August is the month when parents and students anticipate the start of a new school year. It is an exciting time for many. For others, however, it is a terrifying time. Some students are terrified that they are entering middle school or high school for the first time. Some fear that they will not have the same or any friends. Some fear that others will not accept them because of their clothes, hair, or for other reasons. Some of our LGBTQI students will return to school in fear of bullying.
We must do what we can to end this.
I read that some students had proposed a Straight Pride Club at a local high school here in Indiana. This seemed strange to me for the simple fact that many schools are beginning to have GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Clubs. It only makes sense that one of the goals of a GSA Club would be for LGBTQI students and straight students to meet together to discuss their differences, feelings, and perspectives in order to honor the lives of each other. There would not be a need for a Gay Pride or a Straight Pride Club if we are using our GSA Clubs correctly.
There is training available for teachers to help them work with our LGBTQI students.
Before undergoing such training, one must understand what the letters LGBTQI stand for: L = Lesbian – A female person who is homosexual (sexually attracted to another person of the same gender) G = Gay – A person, oftentimes a term used for a man, who is homosexual (sexually attracted to another person of the same gender) B = Bisexual – A person who is sexually attracted to both men and women (sexually attracted to another person regardless of that person’s gender) T = Transgender – A person whose self-identity does not conform to conventional notions of male or female gender Q = Queer – A person who deviates from what is expected or considered normal Q = Questioning – A person who is uncertain of their sexuality I = Intersex – A person who has conditions where there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes and ovaries) (Special note: A hermaphrodite is a plant or animal that has both male and female reproductive organs. Until the mid-20th century, “hermaphrodite” was used synonymously with “intersex”. Using “hermaphrodite” to refer to intersex individuals can be stigmatizing and misleading.)
Please notice that each definition begins with A PERSON. These are people with feelings, families, friends, hopes and desires. To harm or bully a person because he or she fits into one of these categories is unacceptable. To stand by and allow others to harm or bully a person because he or she fits into one of these categories is equally unacceptable. As students return to the classroom, they need support for a variety of reasons.
Teachers are key to ending bullying and to teaching tolerance and acceptance. With proper training and support from the administration, teachers are very powerful role models. It is essential that parents and community members also join in the efforts, as teachers cannot do it all.
With proper education and information, we can make the return to school a positive experience for all students. (Okay, I realize that they would rather be sleeping in and swimming than returning to school, but we can’t fix every situation!)
Happy August! Please don’t hesitate to help a student in need of adult assistance!
This post comes straight to you from Kim Fidler. Kim has been a member of the Spencer Pride Inc. Board of Directors since 2013. This post is part of a series entitled “Voices of Spencer Pride” where we share perspectives from our volunteers about topics that they find important. We hope that you find this post meaningful and if you think someone else would also find value in it, we encourage you to share it with them as well. THANK YOU!