Standing in Solidarity with LGBTQ+ Educators and Students
A community letter by Mayme Hostetter, President of Relay Graduate School of Education
As a kid in 1980’s Minnesota, I never learned about LGBTQ+ history or identity in school, unless you count playground slurs and a blacktop clobbering that sent me to the ER. I never even knew anyone who was out of the closet, let alone a fellow student or a treasured teacher. What a difference this would have made!
As an adult, I have–like many in the LGBTQ+ and Queer* community–been committed to existing, speaking, teaching, parenting, donating, dancing, and protesting to ensure that LGBTQ+ people all over this country are seen, valued, and supported. For the most part, it’s felt like a steady march toward progress, not just on LGBTQ+ rights, but on Queer awareness, acceptance, support, and celebration. The last few months have not felt like that.
Recently, we have seen a growing, hateful movement against the LGBTQ+ and Queer community, particularly with respect to kids, teachers, and schools. Most recently, Texas has sought to implement legislation that criminalizes gender-affirming care for trans kids, and just last week, the Florida legislature passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banning instruction related to LGBTQ+ identity and history. This is a lot of hate to contend with.
In particular, targeting kids and teachers who identify as LGBTQ+ and Queer feels particularly vicious, but as we have for decades, the community is rallying. Last week, for example, students in Florida staged a massive walkout to protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Although we center race in the context of our DEIA development at Relay, it is critical to consider the role of intersectionality in student identity development - the need to provide safety, support, and an excellent, inclusive education for all children. At Relay, our move to culturally responsive teaching affirms full engagement in human identity development. We stand in solidarity with all marginalized groups- particularly the kids in those groups - regardless of the tenor of our times. May what we do everyday advance the cause of love and learning for all kids!
* A note on language: When I was a kid, “queer” was a slur. Younger generations of the LGBTQ+ community (and academia) have reclaimed the word “queer” as both a point of pride and a more inclusive description of our full community. I am all for pride and inclusion. In this piece, I use the two terms–LBGTQ+ and Queer–doubly and/or interchangeably, though they are not identical in denotation or connotation.
The following resources were curated by the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group at Relay, and are intended as a starting place for education and inspiration:
- NBC: “From book bans to 'Don’t Say Gay' bill, LGBTQ kids feel 'erased' in the classroom”
- CNN: “Florida students participate in massive walkout to protest the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill”
- EdSurge: “Teachers Should Be Allowed To Come Out in the Classroom. In Texas, An Outdated Law Stands in the Way.”
- Chalkbeat Indy: “Teaching while ‘in the closet’ was excruciating. Coming out changed everything.”
- The Tennessean: “Why LGBTQ curriculum is important in K-12 education”
- ACLU: “Texas Court Partially Blocks Gov. Abbott’s Anti-Trans Directive to Investigate Families”
- The Trevor Project: “LGBTQ & Gender-Affirming Spaces”
- GLSEN: Policy Maps
- SHRM: “President Biden Calls for Passage of Equality Act to Advance LGBTQ Rights”
- Pew Research Center: “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far”
- EdWeek: “What’s Driving the Backlash Against LGBTQ Students”
- Rethinking Schools “Gay Issues, Schools, and the Rightwing Backlash”