In the wake of so many tragic bullying incidents and suicides amongst LGBTQ children and teens, school boards, governments, and various private and
Interestingly, a number of the people I have had conversations with outside of the school context have expressed anxiety about such a document, raising concerns about the lack of parental input or ability to opt out of anti-homophobic education. Amusingly, when I ask if white families should be allowed to have their children sit out during anti-racist education, these same people guffaw as though I were suggesting something outrageous. They fail to see the connection.
Yet, as the above mentioned document points out, work that addresses and challenges homophobia and heterosexism is inevitably linked to social justice work on a broader level:
“Although the activities in this document focus primarily on sexual orientation and gender identity, it is important to help students make the connections among the variety of equity issues, including race, gender, class, and ability. For example, all these systems of oppression include biases, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, and as such it is important to work and discuss with students the intersectionalities of these forms of oppression. Teachers should help students develop an understanding of these.” (page 32)
My reading of the document put out by the TDSB convinces me that it is a thoughtfully written and practical resource for teachers wherever they may fall on the continuum of knowledge and understanding about homophobia, gender identity and other LGBTQ issues. The front matter invites us to consider the importance of teaching respect for diversity and provides some excellent resources for further study, including Canadian historical links and tips for how to deal with "faggot", and "that's so gay!" in the hallway or on the playground. The lessons are manageable and very appropriate for the division level in which they are found.
In my opinion, this document offers an important reminder of our duty to accept and celebrate individual differences in families and personal identity amongst the students in our classrooms, and to protect the students in our care from LGBTQ-based bullying.
The domain of LGBTQ represents new and sometimes uncomfortable work for me, but as a Christian, a parent, a public educator and a person who lives within a democratic society, I believe it is my responsibility to address homophobia in my classroom, and to foster a safe and inclusive learning community where all students feel comfortable exploring their beliefs, individual differences and personal identities.