Jun 08, 2021

5 Ways to Build a More Inclusive Classroom

As teachers, we want all students to feel safe, seen, and celebrated. So how can we make sure our classrooms reflect those values? Here are 5 ways to start building schools and classrooms that meet the needs of our LGBTQ+ students.

  1. Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Identities and History
    1. Elevate diverse LGBTQ+ voices in your curriculum and classroom. Learning Justice has a useful guide to Integrating Queer Voices Into the Curriculum.
    2. Include LGBTQ+ history in your classroom. Whenever possible, uplift LGBTQ+ historical figures. If those figures are missing, discuss the gap with students - how does context and oppression shape history? For specific resources, check out the curriculum by Black Lives Matter at School, this middle school lesson from Welcoming Schools, and this Pride Month History slideshow. 
    3. Celebrate LGBTQ+ experts, leaders, and heroes. For example, Teaching Outside the Binary has compiled resources to celebrate diverse scientists in their classroom. 
    4. Create inclusive classroom norms with your students. 
    5. Discuss current events that may be impacting students, like the recent spate of anti-trans bills. As always, be careful to respect and protect students in these conversations. 
  2. Avoid assumptions and the gender binary
    1. Invite students to share their identities - or not! Give students a chance to introduce themselves to avoid making assumptions about their gender, sexuality, or pronouns. Some activities to explore: Get To Know You Sheet (Teaching Outside the Binary), or Who Am I? (Facing History). Always allow students to decide what they feel comfortable sharing; they may not want to share some parts of their identities and that’s okay!
    2. Don’t assume a students’ pronouns! More on pronouns in part 3. 
    3. Use gender-neutral language, not binaries or stereotypes. Avoid using language like “boys and girls” that reinforces the idea there are only two genders. 
  3. Talk About Pronouns
    1. Include your pronouns in your email and personal introductions, especially if you’re an ally who is cisgender. As an ally, sharing your pronouns poses little risk to you, normalizes the practice, and fosters inclusion. An important exception to this - nobody needs to share their pronouns if it makes them unsafe or inauthentic. Consider linking GLSEN’s pronoun guide in your email signature as an explainer for families. 
    2. It’s “pronoun” not “preferred pronoun”. Pronouns are important and way more than just “preferred”!
    3. Learn more with these short videos Gender Identity and Pronouns and Smarter in Seconds: Pronouns, What are pronouns?
  4. Build An Inclusive School
    Thinking about how your school could be more inclusive? Check out the infographic below from Trans Student Educational Resources, as well as the Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students guide from Learning Justice and GLSEN’s Respect for All Policy Recommendations to Support LGBTQ Students
  5. Learn More
    1. Classroom Resources and Educators
    2. Book Lists
    3. Organizations


About the Author

Kathryn Dawson

Kathryn (she/her) is excited to join the NGPF team after 9 years of experience in education as a mentor, tutor, and special education teacher. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in policy analysis and management and has a master's degree in education from Brooklyn College. Kathryn is looking forward to bringing her passion for accessibility and educational justice into curriculum design at NGPF. During her free time, Kathryn loves embarking on cooking projects, walking around her Seattle neighborhood with her dog, or lounging in a hammock with a book.

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