For this week’s talking point I will be discussing three quotes from “Safe Spaces-Making Schools & Communities Welcoming to LGBT by Annemaire Vaccaro, Gerri August & Megan S. Kennedy.
The first quote is from page 94: We contend that including LGBT people and issues in the curriculum is an important first step toward creating safe spaces for LGBT youth. We say first step because, as educators, we know that visibility and normalization alone cannot transform our schools into safe and affirming space.
This is a very important lesson for us as future teachers. I feel as though this shouldn’t be an issue. Having a curriculum that does not include lessons or books containing LGBT facts or stories is not creating an equal classroom. It is very sad that this is the reality of our schools and education system. As teachers we are the gateway between our students and the outside world. It is our responsibility to teach them the right attitudes, lessons, and examples regarding anything and everything. How are we supposed to do this when we can’t even have a book like And Tango Makes Three on the shelves in our classrooms?
The second quote is from page 95: Language is a tool. As such, we believe that speech is performative-it does things. Words invite or exclude, recognize or erase, empower or intimidate, examine or assume.
This quote goes along with the first one. Teachers have many tools in their toolbox (thank you Dr. Bogad for the metaphor!) and language is one of those tools. It is a powerful tool. The language we use in the classroom will shape and mold the students we teach. We must use language as a positive tool-inviting, welcoming, recognizing, empowering, and examining.
As much as we may want to change minds or hearts we cannot. We do have the capability and the responsibility, however, to create inclusive and safe classrooms for ALL of our students! Our classrooms should be havens to our students. Those four walls should create an atmosphere of equal opportunities, unbiased by outside opinions.
Points to Share in Class:
I would like to quote Dr. Bogad: "Teachers save lives!" As teachers, we can change the lives of so many students. We will have LGBT students in our class and it will be our responsibility to protect them and treat them with respect and an open-heart and mind.