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Are you a good fit for a career as a teacher?
When you believe that teaching is a call to action—that your unique background, experiences and skills can change lives—you have the ability to transform lives around you.
This Pride Month, help us honor LGBTQIA+ teachers and the inclusive communities they're building. Learn best practices for growing a teaching career that supports educational equity from Ryan Hill, Casey Lawrence, Turner Cooper, Maria Kennedy, Andrew Deacon and Joseph Schmidt.
In Connecticut, Ryan Hill's school hosts a Pretty Brown Girls Club, a Gentlemen of Museum Academy club and is working to create a Gay Straight Alliance. "These spaces are necessary for students in my school, and each school should demonstrate support for the needs of their specific students."
In Casey Lawrence’s north Houston school,100 percent of the students receive free breakfast and lunch and many students have histories of trauma. When Casey defines classroom inclusion, she envisions a space where everyone has “the opportunity to learn, play and explore without judgement.” For Casey, inclusive books are a big part of this work.
Dallas teacher Turner Cooper understands that children know themselves from a very young age. To help each student self-actualize, he gives them the power of language to describe themselves. "I try not to use “boy” or “girl.” I use their names. I introduce them to a myriad of adjectives to describe themselves. Triumphant. Resilient. Passionate. Powerful. Poised. Dynamic. Amazing. Phenomenal. Different."
Andrew Deacon, a literacy specialist and assistant principal in Connecticut, presents nationally on the topic of bringing social justice issues into the reading and writing program so that students have an opportunity to explore differences and develop an appreciation for and understanding of others. As part of this work, he researches the ways schools “can use queer literature to support students' understanding of LGBTQ issues.”
Casey, Andrew, Maria and Turner all recommend expanding the traditional reading list to include underrepresented voices. You can build your own inclusive reading list, starting with Casey's suggestions and this inclusive booklist from the American Library Association. 📖
Ryan and Joseph encourage teachers, administrators and others to develop supportive communities that nurture students where they are. If you're interested in learning more, Teaching Tolerance magazine offers many resources, including toolkits for serving LGBTQ students and being an ally.
Maria has received a Fulbright, is a Teach for America fellow, heads up the History department at her school and still makes time to share coffee with her wife, Lis. When teaching history, Maria includes “pertinent historical events from the perspective of people of color, women and queer people that need to be represented in the country’s mainstream narrative.”
Joseph Schmidt, a middle school teacher and TFA alum, discusses sharing his identity with students to create an inclusive culture. "Through my experiences in education, I finally feel like I can truly be myself, and know that in the coming year when I am openly gay in my classroom, I will create an all-inclusive space that generates kind, generous and compassionate leaders of our country."