5 Best Practices for Being an LGBTQ-Inclusive, Culturally Competent School
A great deal goes into creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools. It begins with training, planning, and resources, but also requires a strong commitment from teachers, staff, administrators, and students. And, perhaps most importantly, it calls for leadership to help create and achieve the vision.
Dr. Sheila T. Gregory, a contributing faculty member in The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Human Sciences at Walden University, shares her education leadership experience with Doctor of Education (EdD) candidates to help prepare them to lead such change with vision and confidence.
“Everyone has the ability to do something amazing,” Dr. Gregory says. “Educators just need to help youngsters discover their gifts and talents, so they can uncover their true treasures and become their authentic best.”
Dr. Gregory, the recipient of an LGBTQ+ students of color grant, recently shared with teachers, school counselors, social workers, and administrators a resource-rich presentation about creating an environment in which LGBTQ+ students can discover their gifts and thrive—and where all students can benefit from growing and learning in an informed, inclusive environment.
Here are five ways teachers, staff, and administrators can help create an LGBTQ-inclusive school:
- Educate teachers, staff, and administration.
To build an LGBTQ-inclusive school, educators must learn all they can about gender terminology and the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. They must learn about issues the LGBTQ+ community faces and stay current on students’ rights and legal and constitutional protections. Professional development days provide great windows of opportunity to impart knowledge and build understanding.
- Develop a vision and goal for cultural competence.
Cultural competence refers to a combination of knowledge, skills, and awareness pertaining to cultural differences and different interpretations across groups. Conduct a school-wide cultural competence audit to assess how teachers, staff, and administrators view the school’s culture. This can provide vital information to help schools determine what cultural competence would look like and the steps they need to take to help achieve and maintain that vision.
- Harness school district and administrative support for LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Schools should seek dedicated and ongoing district resources for LBGTQ+ initiatives and programs. Ideas include creating an LGBTQ+ resource center, LGBTQ+ academic cohort/learning community, and LGBTQ+ student services specialist position.
- Build an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.
Forty percent of schools have “no subject areas” where LGBTQ+ material is present, and just 3% of schools have LGBTQ+ content included in two or more subject areas. This is why building robust support within districts and schools is critical. But teachers and education leaders can find evidence-based approaches through research and respected LGBTQ+ organizations. Educate & Celebrate is one organization that offers lesson plans and other resources.
- Empower LGBTQ+ communities and families.
Begin with an inviting family survey to learn about the family and create a supportive classroom culture. Here are some other important considerations: Keep all holidays inclusive and be open to all family structures. Invite LGBTQ+ allies to speak in class. End viewpoint-discriminatory web filtering that blocks access to LGBTQ-positive web content in public schools. At school events, send a clear and express notice that it is acceptable for students to bring a same-sex or transgender date/companion. All students must be allowed to wear clothing consistent with their gender identity and expression, whether they identify as transgender or cisgender.
Lead Inclusion With an Education Leadership Degree
It takes leadership at all levels to create an LGBTQ-inclusive school. But earning a master’s in education or a doctorate in education leadership can uniquely prepare you to lead these efforts with vision and expertise.
Walden University, an online institution with more than 80% of its students enrolled at the master’s and doctoral degree level, offers multiple options to help you achieve your higher education goals. If you want to become a principal or administrator at the master’s degree level, Walden offers an online MS in Education (MSEd) with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Administration (Principal Licensure Preparation). You’ll also find many other specializations in this master’s in education program so you can tailor your study to your career goals and further develop your leadership style.
Walden’s online Doctor of Education (EdD) can further advance your leadership skills, enhance your decision-making ability, and give you the tools to find solutions to complex problems. Walden’s online EdD degree with a specialization in Educational Administration and Leadership (for Administrators) is designed for K–12 administrators who want to increase their ability to influence and transform education organizations. This online doctoral program also offers multiple specializations.
When you choose Walden as your online education partner, you’ll experience the accredited university’s flexible learning platform that lets you earn a degree while continuing to work and enjoy your family and favorite pursuits. Let an online master’s in education or EdD degree enhance your role as an effective administrator and educator. With the knowledge and skills you gain in your online degree program, you can help develop and lead LGBTQ+ inclusion strategies that create a richer educational experience for the entire school population.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering online MS in Education (MSEd) and Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees with multiple specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.
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