5 Ways to Support an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Curriculum
Five states mandate teaching LGBTQ+ history and education in schools, and more may follow.
Representation matters. Including the contributions of LGBTQ+ people in school curriculum can have a positive impact on students. According to the GSA Network, students in schools with an inclusive curriculum hear fewer anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and negative comments about gender expression than students in schools without an inclusive curriculum. Additionally, GLSEN research highlights improved academic outcomes.
LGBTQ+ visibility is important to truly promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom. With the right resources, you can develop an affirming curriculum for all of your students. Here are five tips to get started:
1. Teach Inclusive American History
History is a great entry point for meaningful classroom discussion. You can lean on BrainPOP topics like Harvey Milk, Pride 2020 (an interview with Pride March co-founder Ellen Broidy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first march), and Pride 2021 (an interview with a student working to make the world a more inclusive and equitable place). Beyond learning about events and contributors related specifically to the LGBTQ+ movement, you can also explore how gay rights and identity are related to broad historical events and movements.
When teaching about the Cold War and McCarthyism, for example, you might include a lesson on the Lavender Scare and its implications for LGBTQ+ individuals in the government and the public sphere. Or, teach landmark cases, such as Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges as a way to compare and contrast the journey to marriage equality.
2. Highlight Awareness Days and Events
Use the class calendar to prompt ongoing discussions that support LGBTQ+ visibility. Notable U.S. and international dates include GLSEN’s Day of Silence, International Day Against Homophobia, Pride Month, and World AIDS Day.
3. Explore Pop Culture
Including references to LGBTQ+ culture acknowledges, values, and encourages the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. One way to broaden students’ understanding is to introduce age-appropriate books, movies, music, podcasts, and news articles that include first-person voices from the LGBTQ+ community.
4. Practice Culturally Responsive Teaching
Culturally responsive teaching enables educators and students to talk about LGBTQ+ themes in non-emotional and non-judgmental ways. Teaching techniques may include representing a variety of genders and family structures in word problems or classroom displays.
5. Incorporate Gender-inclusive Language
Being inclusive about gender-neutral pronouns in grammar and language lessons demonstrates respect for the diversity and personal preferences of all individuals. Singular they/them pronouns have become accepted among the major English language style guides, and BrainPOP’s topic on Personal Pronouns is a great place to begin. You can model this practice by offering your name and preferred pronouns.
For more tips and suggestions, review our blog post, How to Talk to Your Kids About Gender.