Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Photograph by Fanny Ashkenazi
Far too often, LGBTQ+ kids are forgotten in our education system; they are excluded in the lessons we are trying to impart on our kids, but in a heteronormative society we are missing the point of education for everyone–to make sure kids get the best life they can achieve through learning.
By not teaching about sexuality and gender in schools, we are leaving far too many kids feeling like there is something wrong with them and like they do not belong. If we simply began to teach that gender and sexuality are a spectrum, as opposed to a binary, we would have far fewer kids wondering why they feel the way they feel and thinking that they are invalid for feeling that way.
Teaching about sexuality and gender outside of the heteronormative way we teach now would also educate children who would otherwise likely grow up in an environment which taught them to be hateful and confused instead of loving and accepting towards the LGBTQ+ people in their community. It’s important to teach non-LGBTQ+ kids about gender and sexuality so that they can become more understanding and accepting towards the LGBTQ+ individuals they encounter.
More inclusive speech used during everyday lessons (for instance, using “they” instead of “he” or “she” to acknowledge more genders than just two), and including more LGBTQ+ people in school work (for instance, including more trans-rights activists in history, gay artists in art, etc.) would create a more open and accepting environment at school, which would hopefully lead to children feeling safer therefore enjoying school more.
Too many kids feel unsafe in their schools due to bullying based on being part of the LGBTQ+ community, and if schools treated this as more of a pressing issue, teaching students such intolerance is wrong, the problem would likely subside. Including LGBTQ+ people in sex education is another important issue that needs to be addressed in schools.
Too many kids have to rely on the internet and are left feeling confused or guilty because they are not taught about queer sex practices or are taught that they are “wrong” or “dirty”–which is untrue, harmful, and easily avoidable by practicing safe sex. It’s also a common misconception that LGBTQ+ relationships (especially ones between gay males and men) are volatile and that abuse is normal, and that since it is between men it’s okay; this is not true and it should be taught very clearly that all relationships are supposed to be supporting and loving.
We need to include LGBTQ+ issues in our education system so that kids aren’t taught that it’s okay to be pushed around.
The bottom line is, schools need to start supporting and protecting their LGBTQ+ students. There are so many simple ways to make these students feel included and to provide a more open and accepting education and educational environment. Every child deserves to know that there is nothing wrong with them, not only the straight, athletic, white males. Include all children in our education system![share]