Educators

Creating an Inclusive School

There are many strategies and resources related to the development of an inclusive school. These are simply a few suggestions of the kinds of steps that might be taken. Any step toward inclusiveness is a step in the right direction

Read the document below or view and download a .pdf version by clicking here.

 

How to Handle Harassment in the Hallways in 3 Minutes

Adapted from the work of the Toronto District School Board.

A very effective way to move toward inclusiveness in school culture is for all teachers and staff to take action when homophobic or sexist comments are heard. Creating a safe learning environment in schools is the legal and moral responsibility of every adult in the school. Often teachers wish to address inappropriate behaviour but don’t feel that they know exactly how to do so. This process gives clear guidelines for dealing with those ‘teachable moments’ in school. There are four steps to this process. It is important that ALL FOUR STEPS be taken WHENEVER exclusive language is heard in the school environment.

Steps

  1. STOP the harassment
  2. IDENTIFY the harassment
  3. BROADEN the response
  4. ASK for change in future behaviour

A specific example that is relative to issues of exclusion based on perceived sexual orientation...A teacher overhears a student in the halls saying, “Don’t be such a fag!”Here is some specific language that a teacher MIGHT use in such a situation. It is important that teachers respond using language that is authentic to them, and not from a prescribed script.

STOP - “Whoa, just a minute there. Stop using that word.”

IDENTIFY - “The word ‘fag’ is not appropriate language. OR “That word you used is not acceptable. Using that kind of language is wrong.”

BROADEN - “That kind of language can be very hurtful to people in our school who may be gay or have family members or friends who are gay. That language hurts other people and makes them feel excluded. Nobody in this school has the right to hurt or exclude others. This is a safe place for everyone.”

ASK FOR CHANGE - “Please stop using that word from now on. Can you promise me that you will do that?”

Not only is the impact of this encounter important for changing the behaviour of individual students, but the positive benefits extend to all other students in the area who overhear the staff member actively building a safe space for everyone.

Creating a GSA or other safer space student-led group

Creating a Gay Straight Alliance or Queer Positive Space in your school is a very positive step. Many resources for this process are available at MyGSA.ca. If there are other equity groups, or social justice groups in your school, encourage and collaborate with them to include LGBTQ issues in their considerations. 

Posters, Stickers, Door Hangers

LGBTQ-inclusive spaces are most useful when many people know they exist. Get the word out by using signs and symbols to mark an area of the school where you and others are working to support LGBTQ-inclusive education. Many posters, stickers (rainbows), and door hangers are available from Egale Canada.

Outreach Ideas

Invite guest speakers to address the whole school population. If there are prominent local figures in your community who are ‘out’ and willing to speak to your students, they can be inspiring role models. Contact Egale Canada for suggested guest speakers if you have an equity event or other appropriate opportunity to invite someone to speak about LGBTQ issues. Other outreach ideas include Pink Shirt Day, Spirit Day, Pride Parades, staff meeting agenda items, and consideration of LGBTQ issues within ‘Community Culture and Caring’ in School improvement plans.

Staff Workshops and Professional Development

Egale Canada offers workshops for education workers that encourage all members of the education team to engage in anti-hate work. Including whole-staff professional development sessions ensures that it is not only those who are already engaged in equity work who take the journey of making a school more inclusive and representative. Write us at mygsa@egale.ca.

Are your schools safe spaces? In the recent national survey “Every Class in Every School,” 64% of lesbian, gay , bisexual, trans, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) students reported feeling unsafe at school. 58% of straight students reported feeling upset by homophobic comments.

Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, with a grant from the Ministry of Education, is supporting Ontario’s vision of safer and accepting schools for all by delivering free professional development workshops to every school in Ontario.

Workshops provide participants with:

A deeper understanding of the impact homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and feeling unsafe have on student success and performance;Concrete strategies for creating safer schools for all students and staff by addressing homophobia, biphobia and transphobia with confidence;Free comprehensive resources to support inclusive classroom teaching and school-wide strategies;Opportunities to network and share resources with other schools and teachers.Breakfast, lunch and workshop materials will be provided for all participants.

What Ontario educators & administrators are saying about these workshops:

“I have been to many workshops in the past 30 years, very few of them have actually shifted my thinking and galvanized me to action. But the information and synergy in this workshop were powerful. Believing in equity is not enough for me anymore. I intend to start moving this community.”

“The workshop facilitators are very knowledgeable, intuitive and accepting. They created a safe space for us to learn and ask challenging questions of ourselves and others”

This was one of the most comprehensive sessions on LGBTQ inclusion that I have attended. The focus on proactive strategies is powerful and easily applicable.”

Request a workshop in your school board.