Monday, February 13, 2017

Safe Schools Are Better Schools

by Russ Becker

Middle school tends to be one of the most tumultuous time periods in a person’s life. If you don’t believe me simply ask a group of adults how many of them would love to go back and relive their middle school years. Chances are most people would like to leave the bad hair, braces and inherent awkwardness of that time period as far in the rearview mirror as possible. The truth of the matter is that that age is so chock full of new experiences and upheaval that every day can be a struggle to navigate the ever changing waters of what it’s truly like to be a middle schooler. Between hormones running amok, schoolwork becoming more demanding, and no one being quite sure of how to mingle at school dances, it’s no wonder that many people look back on grades 6-8 with terror and angst. Now imagine attempting to making sense of all that while simultaneously deciphering your own sexuality or gender.

All too often those in the LGBTQ community report issues of struggle far beyond those of just your average middle schooler. On top of the already turbulent social nature of this age group, members of this community are constantly having to find and assess safe spaces and individuals where they can express themselves and be supported for who they truly are. This constant evaluation and estimation of acceptance is not just a battle for many members of this community, but it can also be an all encompassing distraction. How can a student possibly be engaged in the curriculum if he/ she/ or they cannot feel comfortable and safe in that classroom environment? In order to combat this notion I will be taking part in a three part professional development series aimed at making our schools a more LGBTQ inclusive environment. The workshop will be lead by Daisey Boyd-Berkes, LICSW, who has worked in a variety of different capacities to target this issue. By educating ourselves and attempting to employ some of these strategies I look forward to making our education accessible and engaging for all members of our district. If we are able to provide an inclusive academic lens to all of our students, inherently we will be removing barriers that we may not even realize exist and making sure each one of our students can access the lessons and experiences that we wish to produce.

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