Parents

Talking about LGBT themes with your child's teacher

Educators play a significant role in the safe and healthy development of children and youth. In both the classroom and the broader school community it is important that these educators are equipped with the tools and understanding to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students (including LGBTQ students) that supports their achievement and well-being. With that in mind, here are some tips for discussing LGBTQ inclusion with your child’s teacher.

  1. Talk frequently

    Whenever possible, it’s a great idea to foster ongoing communication and form a positive relationship with your child’s teachers in support of your child’s achievement and well-being. This doesn’t always have to involve direct discussion of LGBTQ issues, but could include more subtle references to the composition of your family, and LGBTQ inclusion in general. Casual references to same-sex partners, gender non-conforming activities, or queer happenings about town, can be great ways to remind teachers about the size and scope of LGBTQ communities outside the school walls.

  2. Do your homework

    Before sitting down in a formal meeting, do some research into the school’s policies and code of conduct, noting whether they contain provisions regarding equity and inclusive education and, more specifically, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Consider researching board policy as well as that of the provincial/territorial Ministry of Education. In Ontario for example, every school is required to have an equity and inclusive education policy in place.

  3. Ask yourself, “What do I want out of this?”

    Before initiating a conversation with your child’s teacher, consider what the desired outcomes of such a conversation are. Consider sharing your desired outcomes with the teacher at the beginning of your conversation. Do you want help with a specific incident, more LGBTQ inclusive resources, a more positive and accepting classroom environment or guidance around supporting your child who would like to establish a GSA or student-led safe space group? Consider making a list of desired outcomes to help stay on track.

  4. Be ready to help

    It can be helpful to come prepared with some resources to share with your child’s teacher. Chances are they’re swamped and will appreciate some easily digestible information on LGBTQ inclusion in the classroom. Refer them to MyGSA.ca’s Educator’s section, and consider bringing in some examples of age-appropriate LGBTQ-inclusive stories and or films.

  5. Take notes and follow up

    Try to keep track of the basics of what was said and when. At least, be sure to note whenever you or a teacher have made a commitment to do something so that you can follow up later. It can be helpful to schedule follow-up conversations with the teacher to assess progress and changes that you have observed. It can also be helpful to know what you’ve tried, in case things don’t improve at any point later on.

  6. Assess your risks

    Before getting into any conversation with your child’s teacher, consider the potential outcomes (including risks) that you might be taking, the potential consequences, and what you and your family are comfortable with. For instance, will you be outing yourself, your partner or your child in such a way as to put them at risk? Could your child face bullying? Do you plan on asking your teacher to keep the content of your discussion confidential, or to help spread the word to other educators?

  7. Seek a support network.

    It’s important to feel supported in all your dealings with your child’s school. If you know of other LGBTQ families or groups in your community, consider reaching out to them for discussion and support. As well, consider whether or not you’ll be scheduling meetings alone, or with a supportive partner or friend. We at MyGSA.ca encourage you to reach out to us at mygsa@egale.ca for help and support!