Tag Archives: LGBTQ

An LGBTQ + Identity Toolkit for Educators


We’re living in scary and challenging times as educators. Issues connected to LGBTQI+ people have been brought into a heightened focus in the news, and this means it has never been more urgent for these issues to be folded into conversations within our schools and classrooms. But many teachers find themselves ill-equipped and ill-prepared to guide these discussions and meet the myriad emergent needs of their students in this space. That’s why I’m excited to share a new set of resources I’ve helped to create with you.

WNET, the education department of PBS LearningMedia, convened an advisory boardwhich I was part of—and these five individuals, including educators and representatives from the NYC Department of Education’s Guidance Office and the LGBTQ+ Community Liaison, created The LGBTQ+ Identity: A Toolkit for Educators Collection.

The advisory board workshopped the content to ensure it aligned with instructional goals that directly support educators and students. The kit includes a series of digital media resources that will help administrators, guidance counselors, and educators understand and effectively address the complex and difficult issues faced by LGBTQ+ students.

The collection features short segments of video content from WNET’s groundbreaking LGBTQ+ series First Person, a digital series that delivers candid personal narratives illustrating larger conversations about gender, sexuality, social norms, and identity development. The video content is scaffolded by educational resources (background information, conversation guides, discussion questions, and teaching tips connected to the standards) to facilitate their use in educational settings. When used in tandem, the videos and accompanying educational resources will help promote understanding, awareness, and self-esteem.

The collection is distributed free of charge through PBS LearningMedia (pbslearningmedia.org) and is truly the destination for high-quality, trusted digital content and solutions that can inspire students and transform learning. New seasons of First Person are in the works now.

Please share with others, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions!

For viewing of Season 1 go to: LGBTQ+ Identity Collection on PBS LearningMedia; watch the first video of Season 2Boundless Black Masculinity.

A World Where All People Are Safe And Valued

GSEA/CEE-SJ/LGBTQ Advisory Committee Response to Orlando

the palms of a young man put together patterned with a world map and a rainbow flag. Source: A World Where All People Are Safe And ValuedWe, the members of the CEE Commission on Social Justice in Teacher Education programs, the Genders and Sexualities Equality Alliance (GSEA), and the LGBTQ Issues in Academic Studies Advisory Committee stand in solidarity[1] with the broader LGBTQIA and Latinx communities and all those affected by the recent tragedy in Orlando.

Our parent organization, NCTE, has issued a statement affirming the need to stand with those who are grieving as well as resources to ground this supportive work. And, in order to contribute to the critical resources that NCTE has already shared, our GSEA offers the additional resources included in this link: Resource Repository NCTE GSEA. This is meant to be an evolving list, and we invite NCTE members to share additional resources.

As advocates, researchers, teacher educators, and teachers dedicated to equity in and through education, we take this moment to reaffirm our dedication to a safe and just world for all. We reaffirm our commitment to social justice in all spaces, especially in and through K-12 classrooms and teacher education.

“We believe that classrooms and other learning spaces are ideal sites to make sense of our social worlds and to promote democratic participation and understanding while resisting violence and hatred.” source: A World Where All People Are Safe And ValuedWe believe that classrooms and other learning spaces are ideal sites to make sense of our social worlds and to promote democratic participation and understanding while resisting violence and hatred. In the face of such violent hate crimes, we stand united in strength and resolve. To honor the lives lost in Orlando, we aim to move our mission forward collectively, working to reconstruct systems that build more equitable social arrangements for all people.


We pay tribute here to those critically injured, those mourning the loss of loved ones, and those whose lives were lost in Orlando:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

“Social justice” is a term often used in our field, though what it refers to is, at times, amorphous. We in the Social Justice Commission, Genders and Sexualities Equality Alliance, and LGBTQ Issues in Academic Studies Advisory Committee agree with Moje (2007) that there is a distinction between socially-just pedagogies and social justice pedagogies. If a practice is socially-just, then all youth/people have equitable opportunities to learn. Socially-just practices, however, say little about the systems of power and oppression that privilege some at the expense of others. It is not enough to work for a more diverse representation of people privileged in current systems of power.

We must work for social justice–the questioning and eventual reconstructing of these systems. Though there is much we do not know about the tragedy in Orlando, it is clear that healing, understanding, acceptance, and dialogue are needed to create a society and world where all people are safe and valued.

Additionally, on the back of this tragedy in Orlando, which took place only one month ago, we again find ourselves mourning the loss of more innocent lives. The recent events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas are painful reminders of the need for our commitment to dialogue, healing, and understanding, as well as substantial social change for justice, which is at the core of the work we all do. Our society broadly recognizes the tragedy that is the murder of Dallas officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarippa, Michael Kroll, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens, and we have much work to do in terms of valuing the lives of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

I“We reaffirm our commitment to challenging educational practices that normalize violence, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other systems of privilege and oppression.” Source:A World Where All People Are Safe And Valued n this statement, we reaffirm our promise to work for changes in our society that emphasize the value of all human lives. We commit to being a part of community efforts that work for peace and changes that ensure the safety, respect, and inclusiveness of all LGBTQIA individuals, people of color, queer people of color, allies, law enforcement officials who stand on the right side of justice, and the many other intersectionalities and transectionalities that exist within our communities. We reaffirm our commitment to challenging educational practices that normalize violence, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other systems of privilege and oppression.

It is worthwhile to remember that this year our Annual Convention theme is advocacy. The meeting offers a number of resources and support systems, and on the program you will find many LGBT strand and social justice themed sessions that offer suggestions for advocacy inside and outside of our classrooms. We urge you to participate in these sessions and to attend our business meetings to obtain critical resources and continue these discussions.

As we look towards the future of our social justice work situated within NCTE and teacher education, we are drafting new resolutions. Currently, there is a resolution on strengthening teacher knowledge on LGBTQIA Issues, but we believe we can do more. We welcome feedback from members of the NCTE community as we draft, and we invite collaborators. We are here to support your work for social justice, and in our work together, we know we will emerge stronger, more resilient, and more visible in our goals of teaching for a safe and just world.

If you wish to contact us for support or additional information, please contact the following:

NCTE GSEA chair, Nicole Sieben (dr.nicolesieben@gmail.com)

CEE-SJ co-chair, Noah Golden, (ngolden@chapman.edu)

LGBTQ Advisory Committee chair, Toby Emert (temert@agnesscott.edu)


Moje, E. B. (2007). Developing socially just subject-matter instruction: A review of the literature on disciplinary literacy teaching. Review of Research in Education, 31(1), 1-44.

[1] We stand in solidarity as a collective, from a wide range of individual identities that include being members of and allies with these broader communities.

The Importance of Journalism in Light of the Orlando Nightclub Shooting

This is the next post in a weekly series by NCTE member Alana Rome.  

Alana Rome




Last week was an important one for journalism. The myriad tragedies made many turn to the media for insight and analysis and it’s important to consider the role that scholastic journalism can play both in providing a space for students to explore tough issues, and for cultivating the critical literacy skills we’ve all needed to comprehend events like the Orlando shooting.

LGBTQ rights are now addressed more and more within school districts, as my own district recently experienced; but as progressive as some districts are, others remain hesitant to address and accept gay and transgender rights among youth.

Pascack Hills High School’s “Trailblazerprovided continuous coverage of our district’s Board of Education meetings as they approved a transgender policy that would give equal rights to LGBTQ students. They saw the passion to pass this policy, as well as the vehement opposition to the policy, and even witnessed a threat of political action against our district, should we ultimately approve the policy.

Our staff earned a lot of regional and national scholastic recognition this year, but this continuous coverage was undoubtedly my proudest moment as an adviser. Students had a topic they were passionate about and remained dedicated to informing the whole school and surrounding community about it; and although their unsigned editorial on the policy made their personal feelings on the matter clear, their news coverage of the policy remained unbiased.

Scholastic journalism provides an objective space where students can discuss gay and transgender rights. They can read about what’s happening to and within the LGBTQ community, as well as express their own concerns and opinions through editorials. Writing is cathartic, and considering the following statistics from Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth and Caitlin L. Ryan’s article on addressing LBGT topics in language arts curricula—writing may even be an essential outlet for the gay and transgender community:

  • “Only 18.5% of LGBT students surveyed in grades 6-12 reported having an LGBT-inclusive curriculum” (Kosciw et al., 2014).
  • “. . . 2-3.7 million children [are] currently being raised by LGBT parents” (Gates 2014).

Not only does scholastic journalism help inform and comfort students through the written word, but it also helps facilitate political and social change. John Pruitt, in his article “Heterosexual Readers in Search of Queer Authenticity through Self-Selected LGBT Novels,” said, “. . . these discussions can inspire both large-scale political action and less precarious face-to-face interpersonal interactions to affect social change.”

Political and social change, however, does not stop with gay and transgender rights. Gun laws have also been under heavy scrutiny in the past few years.

Journalism and thorough reporting help to bring incidents like these to light; they inform the public, help readers form their own opinions, and deepen understanding to combat stereotypes and build support for policy change.

“If you are an adviser and are looking for other ways to get your community involved in the conversation, encourage your staff to do the following:”

  1. Write an unsigned editorial. These are great for having staff members collaborate on an argumentative/persuasive piece.
  2. Create a poll. Polls can be created fairly easily on any Web platform, like WordPress. If your Web service does not offer this option, you can create polls on Twitter. Even better, link an article from your school’s website onto the poll or reference a school article that appeared in print.
  3. Have staff members go around the school to ask students, faculty, and administration to comment on the topic at hand. These can be published as a sidebar to a news article, filmed as a video, or recorded as a podcast.
  4. Create an infographic using Piktochart. This can be done with information about the topic or survey completed by staff and students regarding their opinions on the topic.

After tweeting about a student article and providing the link, invite readers to comment either below the article itself or on Twitter with the hashtag of your choice. For example, if you tweet about a student article regarding the Orlando nightclub shooting, ask students to share their thoughts on gun control laws using the hashtag #GunReformNOW.

Alana Rome is an English teacher, newspaper adviser for Trailblazer, and soon-to-be journalism teacher at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, NJ. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in English education, grades 7-12, both from Iona College. Alana is a contributor of English Leadership Quarterly and has provided professional development sessions at EdScape, Global Education Conference, and Columbia Scholastic Press Association on a variety of topics, including global awareness, authentic assessment, classroom technology integration and student goal-setting. 

Say His Name!

The following blog is excerpted with permission from Steven Bickmore’s blog Dr. Bickmore’s YA Wednesday. Steven is Associate Professor of English education in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education at the University of  Nevada Las Vegas. 

Steven Bickmore, associate professor of Teaching and Learning for New Faces feature on September 21, 2015. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Photo Services)
Steven Bickmore, associate professor of Teaching and Learning at UNLV. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Photo Services)

I can’t begin to provide an eloquent eulogy [for what happened in Orlando], but it has been done by others who are closer to the people and the issues. Any senseless death is heartbreaking. The victims deserve to be remembered, not the perpetrator. I appreciated the way that  Anderson Cooper has addressed the loss in Orlando by saying their names. It is a valuable statement.

Reading literature that is vibrant, engaging, and controversial provides adolescents with a place for them to hear the names—even if they are imaginary or vicarious—of those who are neglected, marginalized, abused, discounted, scorned, and bullied. I see the events in Orlando as an ultimate act of hate and bullying from which there is no recovery for those who are gone and no easy recovery for those who survived.
Recently, I have been trying to make the point that scripted curriculum that has students reading fewer books and only snippets of texts has contributed to the language of hate, bigotry, and division that seems to be consuming our political and social conversations. In my opinion, students need longer and more frequent opportunities to discuss complex ideas that might fulfill the promise that Jefferson and other founding fathers offered when they promoted education in the new democracy.
Yes, I know that women, African Americans, and others were denied the vote, an education, and other opportunities [in that early vision], but the idea that an educated populace was essential in the promotion and protection of a secure democracy seems to me to remain a key idea if our democratic republic will continue to flourish. We have made advancements in terms of inclusion, but I fear that current policies have turned us to constant testing instead of promoting and fostering inquiry, critical thinking, and open debate—not just argumentation. (Please listen to Jimmy Fallon‘s short statement.)
The current policies do not prepare our children to participate fully in a democracy. So, while we include more people, it appears to me that we are somewhat short on the quality of education we are providing in many places. Plenty of educators have spoken about this issue more eloquently than I could in a small space. You might consider reading,Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond, and Peter Smagorinsky. I have highlighted these individuals because they are some who have weathered the educational storm of the last 15 years and can point to the ideals that we should adopt, that we shouldn’t have abandoned, and that we should continue.
To conclude, I would like to point to a recent event that does involve Young Adult Literature. It is the recent banning and bullying of Phil Bildner by Round Rock ISD (a school district in Texas). He was disinvited to speak to school children after several years of having successfully contributed in the past. This week, author R. J. Palacio contributed to the support of Phil Bildner. Her support is admirable and speaks to the way so many young adult authors support each other and the education of children. Much of the action of Round Rock ISD seems to be connected to a discussion of the book George by Alex Gino. All three authors—Phil Bildner, Alex Gino, and R. J. Palacio demonstrate the courage to speak names. They speak their own and the names of their characters. Thank you.
Phil Bildner was disinvited from a recent speaking engagement, allegedly because he was book talking a text with LGBT themes. George, by Alex Gino is under possible censorship challenges right now. Wonder by E. J. Polacio has been under censorship challenges.
By promoting censorship in any form we stifle education. We need to work vigorously to promote reading and critical thinking instead of scripted, routinized instruction.

We need to say their names, not only the names of those who are lost, but those who continue on by doing good works through their words and actions. I would like to say a few names that have been important to me lately—in the future, I am sure there will be others. Some you will know and some you won’t. It doesn’t matter, but I will say their names. Some of the people are authors, church leaders, scholars, and many of my former students who amaze me. The only family member is my wife, Dana, who is a rock, but all of my kids should be here and many of my current and recent students. Here are their names: David Levithan, Meg Medina, Jason Reynolds, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Paula Meiling Siebers, Matt J. Stannard, Dana Bickmore, Bernie Sanders, Elder Patrick Kearon, Bill KonigsbergJo Knowles, Teri Lesesne, Corey Whaley,Ryan Williams, Kylene Beers and Amy Albritton.

In two short weeks I will return to Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous. It truly is a book where the author dares to speak his name: Daniel Ellsberg.

Legacy of Pride: We Are Decidedly Not Other; We Are Teachers; We Are One

The following post is by NCTE Vice President Jocelyn Chadwick and is part of a series she is writing about NCTE’s Legacy of Pride

"What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains." —Tennessee WilliamsNCTE’s legacy of identifying the need for—and continued efforts to achieve—not just presence but, more important, substantive inclusion through voice, participation, and collaboration for America’s students began early in its history. Between 1967 and 1968 and 1975 and 1976, the organization made documentable progress with African Americans and women and Latinos, but members knew they still had much work left to do. American Indians, poor whites of Appalachia, Asian Americans, gays and lesbians, the aged, the handicapped, and young teachers (Hook, 234, 236) were added to the agenda through a focus on and commitment to inclusion and collaboration. This focus not only included teachers but also embraced students.

This edition of Legacy of Pride celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month.

Tragically, this month has been a horrific one for our LGBTQ families, not only in Orlando, Florida, but also around the country. And we say and feel “our families” because we are all a part of the amazing and unique human tapestry. Families and friends and even strangers are grieving this massive loss of lives, lives violated, and irreparable memories of violence in Orlando. We grieve along with so many others; in addition to our grief, we are keenly concerned about our students around the country, who are also an integral part of our wonderfully diverse and multifaceted human community.

walker2In the late 1970s, NCTE began to chart a path forward by insisting that as an organization we had to have a more substantive focus and concentrated attention on inclusion. Subsequently, through publications and conventions, this focus narrowed, with topics such as “homosexuality in literature and in the classroom” (Hook, 236) being discussed and explored. And characteristic of NCTE’s proactive nature, a resolution was put forth and passed by the membership, affirming the pedagogical and philosophical stance “that a teacher’s rights should in no way be abridged because of his or her homosexuality” (Hook, 236). Our members have remained steadfast in this focus and commitment—not for us alone but especially for our students. We continue to insist on a panoply of texts—canonical and modern—that encourage and spark the difficult conversations, the curious conversations, the fascinating and surprising conversations among our students, students who eagerly engage with us because they feel safe and accepted for who they are and how they think.

“But we have also learned to be vigilant, that just because progress is made does not mean that it cannot be undone. The journey has been at times heartbreaking and frustrating, but the Council has been responsive, and real change has occurred. Perhaps at some NCTE Convention in the future, a gay teacher will invite some of his faculty members to our GSEA meeting and there, as an openly gay man, proudly tell his story about his love for teaching the English language arts.” —Roxanne HenkinI have had the pleasure of marveling at how bringing LGBTQ perspectives, issues, and ideas to texts resulted in engaging classrooms and pushing students and me to expand our thinking. Thanks to the real and substantive commitment and support of organizations like NCTE, the “traditional” ELA classroom has been transforming into a living-literacy laboratory. We have come to expect that this space be reflective of our diverse human tapestry. We have come to expect that classrooms become places where all student voices are encouraged and welcomed, places where our LGBTQ students know they are safe and supported—instructionally and emotionally.

I have had the privilege of witnessing such safe and supportive classrooms around the country with dynamic ELA teachers such as Kimberly Parker, Kristin Comment, Matthew Kim, Daniel Bruno, Winona Siegmund, Jason Torres Rangel, Janis Mottern-High, Courtney Morgan, and so many others. Our one, founding identification—we are ELA teachers—is enhanced by our unique diversities. We are one.

"The day we stop resisting our instincts, we’ll have learned how to live.” —Federico Garciá Lorca, poet, playwright, including Canciones and Bodas de SangreNot everyone can travel to these classrooms for inspiration, but NCTE holds another treasure trove of informative and instructional conversations in the articles our members write and share about LGBTQ issues, pedagogy, research, and instruction. These brave and innovative works further expand and affect how we all reread, rethink, and reenvision the literature we teach, as does the realization that our students were never, ever one-size fits all. Articles by Jill Hermann-Wilmarth and Caitlin L. Ryan, John Pruitt, Amanda Haertling Thein, R. Joseph Rodriguez, Caroline T. Clark and Mollie V. Blackburn, Becca Chase and Paula Ressler, David L. Wallace, and many, many others reveal how committed we all are as ELA teachers to substantive inclusion, presence, and privilege for ourselves and our students.

“. . . Not he, with a daily kiss, onward from childhood kissing me, Has winded and twisted around me that which holds me to him, Any more than I am held to the heavens, to the spiritual world, And to the identities of the Gods, my lovers, faithful and true, After what they have done to me, suggesting themes. O such themes! Equalities! O amazement of things! O divine average! O warblings under the sun—usher’d, as now, or at noon, or setting! O strain, musical, flowing through ages—now reaching hither! I take to your reckless and composite chords—I add to them, and cheerfully pass them forward.” —Walt Whitman  While the tragedy of Orlando clearly reminds everyone we still have a long path yet to travel, for us as educators, especially as ELA teachers, NCTE will continue its forward-thinking leadership and action in creating safe spaces for students and our educators to engage, collaborate, explore, express, and learn about themselves and others. This is so critical to meeting the realities and needs of society as a whole for the twenty-first century and beyond.

NCTE’s own uniqueness, relevance, and strength lie with its commitment to diversity and to the understanding that the word diversity is more than a term or a label. Our members reify this understanding every day: we live it; we model it; we teach it.


Work Cited

Hook, J. N. A Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE’s First Sixty-Seven Years (Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1979).