For parents and caregivers, finding an affirming school for your LGBTQ+ child can be overwhelming. NYC public schools have policies protecting LGBTQ+ students, families and educators. Here are signs that a school goes above and beyond to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
An Active GSA
A Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is a club where LGBTQ+ students and allies can connect, learn, and celebrate their identities. GSAs exist in Elementary, Middle, and High schools, providing a supportive community. A thriving GSA indicates efforts by both faculty advisors and students to foster an inclusive school environment.
Faculty and Staff Showing Visible Support
When educators show visible support for the LGBTQ+ community, that indicates a staff-wide commitment to making students feel safe and welcome. Watch for these examples during a school tour:
- Pride flags or other pride/LGBTQ+ related materials in the classrooms
- Faculty and staff wearing OUT for Safe Schools badges on their lanyards
- Faculty and staff wearing “ally” or pride pins
- Faculty and staff having their pronouns in their email bios, or on view in their classroom/office
- LGBTQ+ affirming posters in the hallways, including Respect For All, LGBTQ+
- Hidden Voices Curricula, GSA club promotion, and more!
Inclusion of LGBTQ+ Voices in Curriculum
Every student wants to see themselves reflected in their school lessons. When teachers make an effort to include LGBTQ+ people in curriculum regularly, beyond state standards, this helps students feel seen and heard in the classroom. Look at reading lists for LGBTQ+ stories in English Language Arts, check for LGBTQ+ history in social studies, and consider how sex and gender are addressed in biology or health classes. There are numerous ways to integrate LGBTQ+ voices and stories proactively in various subjects.
Completing a Professional Development Workshop on LGBTQ+ Inclusion
Schools committed to inclusion educate staff on supporting LGBTQ+ individuals. Bringing in expert organizations for ongoing learning is a fantastic way for school staff to grow. Ask school leaders if they have participated in this kind of training.
While not exhaustive, these ideas show a school's effort to be welcoming and inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. Keep an eye out, ask questions during school tours and support our LGBTQ+ students!
Shelby Hall Denney is the Safe Schools Program Coordinator at PFLAG NYC.