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The Every Teacher Project Recommendations

RISE: Respect, Inclusion, Safety, Equity


Rainbow Spectrum

FOR GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS:

1. Provide teachers and counsellors with clear, effectively communicated assurance of support for LGBTQ-inclusive education from every level of the school system, including school officials, school district administration and the Ministry of Education. The results show that participants were not strongly confident that school system leadership would support them in the event of complaints, and many participants were not confident at all. Support for teacher-leaders who take the initiative to include LGBTQinclusive course content is particularly important.

2. Develop LGBTQ-specific legislation and district policy that address both meaningful inclusion and personal safety. We found that teachers strongly support LGBTQ-inclusive education and see school safety as requiring meaningful inclusion in school life. A number of provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario) now have legislation requiring schools to provide GSAs when requested by students or teachers. We recommend that all provinces and territories amend their education statutes to include requirements for LGBTQinclusive education, that go beyond GSAs and anti-harassment policies, in all publicly funded schools.

3. Develop appropriate curricular content at all grade levels and provide teachers with support to implement it. Make LGBTQinclusive content mandatory.

4. Develop and implement intervention policy to respond to teachers who contribute to a hostile school climate by making inaccurate and pejorative representations of LGBTQ people in public or in interactions with students. These plans should detail the disciplinary consequences for continuing to make such comments.

5. Provide curriculum resources from K through 12. Teachers identified lack of knowledge and resources as an impediment to practicing LGBTQ-inclusive education. A great many resources created by publishers, school divisions, LGBTQ advocacy groups (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, and Pride Education Network), and teacher organizations already exist, but our results show that many teachers are not aware of them.

6. Provide LGBTQ-inclusive education professional development and pay particular attention to the situation of transgender students in all LGBTQ-inclusive professional development. The student Climate Survey showed that transgender students are even more likely to be harassed and feel unsafe at school than LGB students; the Every Teacher survey showed that most teachers felt that transgender students would not feel safe in their schools.

7. Develop legislation/school board policy to require all publicly funded schools to provide a Gay-Straight Alliance (or equivalent club) if requested by students and resource it at a level commensurate with other student clubs. If there is no appropriate staff member to facilitate the club, professional development should be offered to some or all school staff to develop the requisite capacity.

FOR SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS:

1. Ensure that teachers, counsellors and administrators are aware of current legislation and school district policy, and receive thorough training in it.

2. Help students form a Gay-Straight Alliance on site.

3. Use inclusive language that communicates that LGBTQ staff and family members are welcome and integrate them equitably into school life.

4. Provide professional development opportunities on LGBTQinclusive education, and especially on gender diversity and support for transitioning students.

5. Make support for LGBTQ inclusion visible by posting and updating displays (bulletin boards, library books, themed events), resources (books, posters, flyers, pamphlets), and policies.

6. Create opportunities for teachers to dialogue. While knowledge and resources are important, it is equally important for teachers to process any fears and misgivings they might have, overcome the traditional isolation of teachers doing this work, and develop courage from knowing that their colleagues approve of LGBTQ-inclusive education and would support them if there were complaints.

7. Provide clear support for LGBTQ-inclusive classroom practices, including professional development and resources.

FOR TEACHER ORGANIZATIONS:

Teacher organizations represent a broad-based national network that has the professional capacity to mobilize existing support among Canada’s teachers, provide professional development to increase that support, and work with their membership to support LGBTQ-inclusive initiatives from school systems and government.

1. Actively work with Ministries of Education to create and implement effective legislation supporting LGBTQ-inclusive education. Teacher organization members have made it clear that they support this work but they need strong leadership to be demonstrated at all levels of the education system.

2. Actively support school districts to create and implement effective policies supporting LGBTQ-inclusive education.

3. Do effective outreach to stakeholders to confirm and clarify their support (and any limits of support) for members who do this work and for LGBTQ educators in particular. We found that even in provinces where teacher organizations are very strongly supportive, confidence in that support was around 70%.

4. Develop and implement intervention plans to respond to teachers who contribute to a hostile school climate for LGBTQ staff and students.

5. Develop a GSA or equivalent for members.

FOR TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS:

1. Ensure that student coursework has LGBTQ content integrated throughout Bachelor of Education programs.

2. Provide post-baccalaureate and graduate courses on LGBTQinclusive education for the benefit of educators already in the system.

3. Provide opportunities for faculty and field supervisors to learn and discuss how LGBTQ content can be incorporated in courses and field experiences.

4. Work with ministries, school districts, and teacher organizations to ensure provincial and territorial curriculum standards include gender and sexual diversity in all grades and content areas.

5. Provide leadership for local school districts and communities by publicly endorsing LGBTQ-inclusive education and new legislation.

6. Develop a GSA for Education students.

FOR ALL SCHOOL SYSTEM EMPLOYERS:

1. Build system capacity by identifying expertise in LGBTQinclusive education as an asset in candidates for educator and school official positions, and actively encourage individuals with such expertise to apply.

2. Include LGBTQ persons in the list of members of groups whose members are particularly encouraged to apply. This would involve following the practice of including “LGBTQ persons” alongside women and visible minorities in advertisements for school system positions. It is important for LGBTQ students to have role models of successful, respected LGBTQ adults and for other students to see that successful, respected people are LGBTQ. Our results show that LGBTQ teachers were generally not “out” to school officials when they applied for their jobs and out to only a small number of trusted colleagues and administrators afterwards.

3. Provide official support at every level for teachers’ right to identify openly as LGBTQ at work so that they can be role models for LGBTQ students and educate other students and colleagues. The situation reported by LGBTQ participants that they only knew a few individuals at their school who were LGBTQ sends the message that LGBTQ people are not fully welcome at school.

4. Ensure that LGBTQ employees are treated equitably in all respects. For example, provide full entitlement to spousal benefits for partners of LGBTQ employees at a level consistent with the terms and conditions of all other spousal benefits.

FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS:

1. Reconceptualize the common misconception of LGBTQ inclusion as a battle between religious faith and LGBTQ rights. Many religious teachers, including many religious conservative teachers, not only support LGBTQ-inclusive education, but they practice it. Many others would like to do so.

2. Create opportunities for those teachers who oppose LGBTQ inclusion on religious grounds to realize that LGBTQ students have a right to a safe and inclusive education. The fact that LGBTQ rights sometimes conflict with religious rights does not extinguish teachers’ right to maintain personal religious beliefs that same-sex relationships and gender diversity are wrong, but neither does it extinguish LGBTQ students’ right to be safe, respected and included at school.

3. Encourage religious leaders and other people of faith to be more outspoken about their support for LGBTQ-inclusive education.

4. Provide support at every level for teachers’ efforts to practice LGBTQ-inclusive education in publicly funded secular and religious schools.