Creating an inclusive school
Schools are places of learning and also miniature societies. The climate of a school has a direct impact on both how well students learn and how well they interact with their peers. Teachers and administrators work hard to make their classrooms welcoming places where each student feels included. But despite these efforts, students who are—or who are perceived to be—lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) continue to face a harsh reality.
Studies have shown that creating a supportive environment for LGBT students improves educational outcomes for all students, not just those who may identify as LGBT. Any educator, regardless of personal beliefs, can be a resource for LGBT students.
School climate is a broad, multifaceted concept that involves many aspects of the student’s educational experience. A positive school climate is the product of a school’s attention to fostering safety, to promoting a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment, and to encouraging and maintaining respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community no matter the setting—from Pre-K/Elementary School to higher education.
A positive school climate is critically related to school success. For example, it can improve attendance, achievement, and retention and even rates of graduation, according to research.
School climate has many aspects.
Engagement: Strong relationships between students, teachers, families, and schools and strong connections between schools and the broader community.
Safety: Schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and controlled-substance use.
Environment: Appropriate facilities, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health supports, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy.
It all starts with awareness. Often educators are unsure how to support their LGBT students in a meaningful way. Through inclusive policies and nurturing practices, administrators, counselors and teachers have the power to build an educational environment that is truly welcoming to all students. These best practices were compiled to give school leaders the knowledge they need to create a climate in which their most vulnerable students feel safe and valued.
Ways to create an LGBT-inclusive School Climate:
The following link will direct you to other resources to help you create an LGBTQ-inclusive climate in your school: http://www.tolerance.org/lgbt-best-practices