Setting up a GSA

School Climate Questionnaire and Checklists

School Climate Questions

  1. Do your school's policies protect and affirm the rights of LGBTQ people? Do non-discrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity? Is proactive education regarding LGBTQ policies a priority?
  2. Is anti-LGBTQ language discouraged or encouraged? Is this language and harassment rampant in your school? Do you hear words or phrases like "fag," "dyke," or "that's so gay" often? Or is anti-LGBTQ language rare and is there opposition to it?
  3. Is there a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or other inclusive student group pertaining to LGBTQ matters at your school? If so, was there opposition to this club and do students feel safe attending meetings? If not, does this seem like something that would be encouraged or discouraged at your school?
  4. Are LGBTQ themes, people, and subject matter fully integrated into your school's curriculum and across a variety of subject areas? Do you learn about LGBTQ matters in health and/or sexual education classes? Are LGBTQ topics and people discussed in other classes, such as English, History, and Media Studies? Is inclusive language used in all subject areas, including Math and Science, to make your school's classrooms safer spaces?
  5. Are there books and materials with LGBTQ content and/or written by LGBTQ authors in your school's library? Are there books and materials with LGBTQ content and/or written by LGBTQ authors in your school's classrooms?
  6. Is there school staff support for LGBTQ students at your school? Do staff members show compassion and respect? Is there health and guidance support for LGBTQ students? Is there information about available resources?
  7. Are athletic programmes welcoming spaces for LGBTQ or gender-nonconforming students? Do athletic programmes exhibit practices of gender equity? Are anti-LGBTQ attitudes an issue?
  8. Is there organized and vocal opposition to LGBTQ inclusion at your school? For example, have you heard things like "homosexuality is characterized as 'sickness and sin'"? Is there adult compassion and advocacy for LGBTQ inclusion? Do adults exhibit a commitment to social justice?
  9. Are LGBTQ people visible or invisible at your school? Are there students and/or staff members with LGBTQ parents, other family members, or friends? Do they feel safe being open about their sexual orientation and gender identity? Are LGBTQ students fully integrated into school life? Do LGBTQ students get treated the same as other students?
 

School Climate Outlines

 

The Unwelcoming School

  1. School policies do not protect the rights of LGBTQ people.
  2. Anti-LGBTQ language and harassment are rampant.
  3. A GSA or other inclusive student group pertaining to LGBTQ matters is nonexistent and strongly discouraged.
  4. Curricula are devoid of LGBTQ themes, people, and subject matter and inclusive language is not being used.
  5. Books and materials with LGBTQ content or written by LGBTQ authors are nonexistent.
  6. School staff support, including health and guidance, for LGBTQ students and families and allies is nonexistent.
  7. Athletic programmes are unwelcoming spaces for LGBTQ or gender-nonconforming students.
  8. Organized and vocal opposition to any LGBTQ inclusion exists; homosexuality is characterized as "sickness and sin."
  9. LGBTQ people are invisible and feel unsafe being open about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Resistant School

  1. Non-discrimination policies may include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  2. Anti-LGBTQ language is common in hallways and locker rooms and on the school grounds, though not in classrooms.
  3. There is resistance to the formation of a GSA or other inclusive student group pertaining to LGBTQ matters and, in the case that there is one, students feel unsafe attending.
  4. Curricular inclusion of LGBTQ matters is limited to clinical references in Health or Sexual Education classes and inclusive language is rarely used.
  5. Access to books and materials with LGBTQ content or written by LGBTQ authors is limited.
  6. School staff show compassion, but not necessarily respect and information and support regarding LGBTQ matters, including health and guidance, are not generally accessible.
  7. Athletic programmes are moving toward gender equity, but anti-LGBTQ attitudes remain an issue.
  8. Adults feel discomfort and may believe there is danger in exposure to LGBTQ matters or people.
  9. A "don't ask, don't tell" atmosphere exists for LGBTQ people.

The Passive School

  1. Non-discrimination policies are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, and students are made aware of this.
  2. There are few instances of intentional harassment against LGBTQ students.
  3. The GSA or other inclusive student group pertaining to LGBTQ matters is tolerated and attended by a core group of people.
  4. LGBTQ themes, people, and subject matter are occasionally included in English, History, and Health classes and inclusive language is generally used.
  5. A variety of books and materials with LGBTQ content or written by LGBTQ authors are available.
  6. School staff members, including Health teachers and guidance counsellors, have had training on LGBTQ matters and offer information and support in a respectful manner.
  7. Coaches interrupt anti-LGBTQ behaviour; LGBTQ athletes are relatively safe, though not very visible.
  8. The adult community is open to LGBTQ inclusion, but may not be sure how to achieve it.
  9. LGBTQ people are moderately visible; they may be seen as “different,” but a safe and respectful atmosphere exists.

The Inclusive School

  1. School policy both protects and affirms LGBTQ people; proactive education about such policies exists.
  2. Anti-LGBTQ language and behaviour are rare and dealt with swiftly and decisively; anti-bias education that embraces respectful, inclusive language is common in classrooms.
  3. The GSA or other inclusive student group pertaining to LGBTQ matters is visible, regularly attended, and considered as valid as any other club.
  4. LGBTQ themes, people, and matters are fully integrated into curricula across a variety of subject areas and grade levels and inclusive language is always used and openly discussed.
  5. Books and materials with LGBTQ content and written by LGBTQ authors are visible and available to all students and school staff members.
  6. School staff members, including Health teachers and guidance counsellors, work with outside agencies to provide outreach, support, and education to LGBTQ people as well as members of the school community who have LGBTQ parents, other family members, and friends.
  7. Education around anti-LGBTQ bias is a part of athletic programming; LGBTQ athletes are treated as equals on and off the playing field.
  8. The adult community has prioritized LGBTQ inclusion as part of a larger commitment to social justice.
  9. LGBTQ people are visible and fully integrated into school life; there is a high degree of comfort and acceptance regarding LGBTQ people.

 

Adapted from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s Jump-Start Guide.