ARTICLE

Celebrate LGBT Pride Month With Perspectives!

LGBT-inclusive curricula can make schools safer, more welcoming places to learn.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 9, 2015.

It’s LGBT Pride Month, an annual commemoration of the Stonewall riots in New York City on June 28, 1969, and continued activism in pursuit of LGBT rights. For K-12 educators, this month represents an opportunity to reflect on the LGBT-inclusivity of their practice and their teaching materials.

Creating—and sustaining—an LGBT-inclusive school climate requires a multi-pronged approach. One area where educators have the greatest opportunity to effect change is in the curriculum they teach. The 2015 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools (put out by GLSEN) shows that LGBT-inclusive curricula positively influence school climate and the experiences of LGBT students. For example, the GLSEN survey reports that LGBT students who attend a school with an inclusive curriculum are less likely to feel unsafe, hear negative or derogatory remarks, miss school and feel disconnected from their school community. [1]

The importance of curricular inclusivity guided Teaching Tolerance’s development of the Perspectives Text Library. Below, you’ll find a selection of Perspectives texts that address LGBT identities, experiences and voices. Check them out today—and bookmark your favorites for next school year. 

 

“Gay Marriage” by Steve Sack

Grade level: 6-8, 9-12
Text type: Visual
Themes: Freedom and choice, rights and responsibilities, struggle and progress
Social justice domains: Justice, Action

In this 2013 political cartoon, Steve Sack depicts legislators at a “wrong-side-of-history photo shoot.” Three portraits of legislators from various periods in American history are already printed and framed and bear the statements: “I voted against freeing the slaves,” “I voted against women voting” and “I voted against interracial marriage.” From the shoot’s set, the photographer calls “Next!” for the Minnesota legislature, slated to pose with a background announcing, “I voted against marriage equality.”

“Gay Marriage” reminds viewers of social justice causes from the United States’  past that were met with opposition, now regarded as an affront to fundamental rights and liberties. It is important to remember during LGBT Pride Month and beyond that resistance to citizens’ full protection under the law positions us on the wrong side of history—but we have the power to change that course.

Margaret Sasser, fellow

 

“Gend-O-Meter” by Debra Chasnoff 

Text type: Multimedia 

Theme: Freedom and choice, individual and society, power and privilege
Social justice domains: Identity, Justice

You don’t have to be a grownup to see that gender stereotypes limit and hurt everybody! “Gend-o-Meter” is a short video featuring the testimonials of young people who have experienced limiting gender norms firsthand. Hearing personal stories makes the message feel urgent—these are real kids whose lives are being affected. It’s a great resource for helping kids and adults see the value in abandoning rigid ideas about what boys and girls “should” do.

Adrienne van der Valk, deputy director

 

“The Misfits” by James Howe

Grade level: Sixth grade
Lexile score: 1160
Text type: Literature 

Theme: Freedom and choice, individual and society, power and privilege
Social justice domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice

Meet “Keezie Tookis,” Addie and Joe—three students who have experience with being bullied because of the way they look or act. In this short excerpt from The Misfits, author James Howe weaves in threads of diversity in appearance, intelligence and creativity. The resulting tapestry is not only a window into individuality and gender expression; it is a mirror for anyone who has lived a day in middle school. The Misfits is accessible, relatable and enlightening.

Rachel Buchan, intern

 

“When Grandfather Came Out” by StoryCorps

Grade level: Seventh grade
Text type: Multimedia
Themes: Freedom and choice, individual and society
Social justice domains: Identity, Justice

In this conversation recorded by StoryCorps, Tony and Jeffrey Perri, a grandfather and grandson, share their disparate experiences of coming out as gay to loved ones, each afraid of the reactions they might receive. While the elder lied about his identity until he was in his 30s, the younger had his grandfather as a role model for being his true self.

This conversation between two family members who love and admire each other offers powerful perspective about what it means to live without hiding, to live authentically. As Tony puts it, “ … that's what I've strived for all my life, just to live honestly. And many years I did not.” This month, as we recognize LGBT history and struggles, the goal of living honestly is worthy of consideration.

Monita Bell, senior editor

 

“Z and Vielpunkt” by Tamera Bryant

Grade level: First grade (read-aloud), third grade
Lexile score: 610
Text type: Informational
Themes: Freedom and choice
Social justice domains: Diversity

“Z and Vielpunkt” is based on a true story—and it’s a love story. Two male Humboldt penguins, Z and Vielpunkt, fall for each other at a zoo in northern Germany. Every year, they prepare a nest hoping for an egg, only to be disappointed to go without one. But one year, the zookeeper gives them an egg rejected by its biological parents. Z and Vielpunkt are overjoyed and soon enough become fathers to a baby chick.

“Z and Vielpunkt” is a simply wonderful story and shows one facet of the diversity that makes up the partnerships and families in our communities. For the youngest of students, this story will be a hit!

Maya Lindberg, writer/associate editor

[1] The 2015 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools, page xx