Educators

Why Do I Do This?

Why do I, as an educator, take action to support LGBTQ people in my school?

Safe and inclusive schools give children and youth the strong foundation they need for a healthy development and high academic achievement.  At the same time, safe and inclusive schools serve as the base for more accepting and diverse school community, and even society at large.  When considering why one should support LGBTQ people in your school community, we encourage you to think about the children, youth, parents and teachers who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum, and are already part of school communities across the country.  Consider what it might feel like for them not to be represented, included, or even safe within their school community, then read some of the information below that details the impact of homophobic, transphobic and biphobic educational environments. Everybody deserves to feel safe, secure and included within their educational environment, or that of their children.  Furthermore, safer and more inclusive environments benefit the entire school community by including and engaging all community members, allowing them to reach their full potential and contribute wholeheartedly to community activities.  Working towards a safer and more inclusive school means working towards the goal of a more successful, diverse and dynamic school environment, one that truly represents the unique nature of the school community as a whole.

“We believe that Ontario’s diversity can be its greatest asset. To realize the promise of our diversity, we must respect and value the full range of our differences. Providing a high-quality education for all is a key means of fostering social cohesion, based on an inclusive society where diversity is affirmed within a framework of common values that promote the well-being of all citizens. In reaffirming the values of fairness, equity, and respect as essential principles of our publicly funded education system, the Ontario government’s equity and inclusive education strategy will help ensure that all students have the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential.”

Equity and Inclusive Education in Ontario Schools: Guidelines for Policy Development and Implementation (2009)

Moral Responsibility

“If we are to succeed, we must draw on our experience and on research that tells us that student achievement will improve when barriers to inclusion are identified and removed and when all students are respected and see themselves reflected in their learning and their environment,” (Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and former Minister of Education, in Realizing the Promise of Diversity: Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, 2009).

Legal Responsibility

Policy Requirements

Ontario Ministry of Education Policies and Procedures:   These policies provide direction to boards on engaging in positive equity-building practices to help ensure students are free from harassment in the school environment:

Developing and implementing equity and inclusive education policies in ON schools (P/PM 119)

The Provincial Code of Conduct and School Board Codes of Conduct (P/PM 128)

Bullying Prevention and Intervention (P/PM 144)

Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour (P/PM 145)

 

Legal Requirements

The Education Act of Ontario

The Ontario Human Rights Code

The Criminal Code of Canada

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Positive Benefits of Embedding LGBTQ into all teaching and all schools:

“ … many of you who are our heterosexual allies might be better able to afford the risks inherent in taking such action than are young students or your more vulnerable LGB[TQ] colleagues. You can use your outstanding reputations in your schools, your tenure protections, your union clout, and your life experiences as an adult to educate your colleagues and sway their thinking in support of addressing LGB[TQ] concerns” (Harbeck, K. “Invisible No More: Addressing the Needs of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual [Trans, Queer and Questioning] Youth and Their Advocates.” New York: Routledge. 1995).

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual [trans, queer and questioning] youth sit in every classroom, in every school in our communities. Often invisible they are required by law to attend institutions of learning which often ignore or stigmatize them. Some of their teachers are unprepared to recognize their existence publicly or to respond appropriately to their needs. Other teachers, including many who are, themselves, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, [trans, queer or questioning,] are engaged in ongoing efforts, often in the face of tremendous resistance, to ensure that the school experiences of lesbigay youth are positive ones” (Monahan, N. “Making the Grade: Responding to Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth in Schools.” Central Toronto Youth Services: Toronto. 1997).
“Over two thirds of those students who identified as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and two-spirited, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) feel unsafe at school” (Egale Canada,  2011).

“Many adults in young people’s lives, both parents and educators, are aware that fear often makes young people go against their own sense of right and wrong to follow the crowd. This silence of teachers not only helps to validate homophobia, it helps to ensure the recirculation of fear by teaching students that they’re on their own on this issue and that adults won’t help them” (Taylor, C. & Peter, T. with McMinn, T.L., Elliott, T., Beldom, S., Ferry, A., Gross, Z., Pacquin, S., & Schachter, K. Every Class in Every School: Final Report on the First National Climate Survey on Homobhobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools. Toronto: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. 2011).

“The single most important struggle on the face of the planet is the struggle for gender equality... If schools can do nothing more than to get young boys to understand and respect young girls, you will have made an immense contribution" (Stephen Lewis, 2008).
“Anti-homophobia education works towards ensuring the physical safety of every student and that each student has a safe environment in which to learn” (adapted from document by Nadia Bello for T.E.A.C.H.)

Tools for the inclusive engagement of reluctant communities

MyGSA.ca has produced a variety of print resource documents to assist you in discussing LGBTQ school inclusion and safety.  Check out the full MyGSA.ca Lesson pack for more materials.