Our Family Coalition, who works for the betterment of LGBT families across the Bay Area held the first annual LGBTQ Inclusive Elementary Schools Forum last Thursday night at the Red Gill Elementary School in Redwood City. Two more forums will be held in San Francisco and the East Bay on Nov 2 and Nov 17, respectively.
A new program called “Welcoming Schools” is being launched in some areas and the details were laid out for the audience. Teachers, through this program, are being trained to interact with students with sensitivity and relay methods of understanding so that when the popular phrase, “that’s gay” comes up, there is a plan of action on how a teacher approaches this subject matter. Teaching children at a young age the right and wrong ways to treat people may go a long way in helping the child decide how to treat someone when they are older and better the LGBT community tenfold.
Our Family Coalition’s spokeswoman, Judy Appel, conveyed the message to the crowd that the main goal is not to combat homophobia, but rather the feeling to the child that one must be heterosexual or have heterosexual parents to be normal. Work is currently being done in several schools, such as in Pacifica, with a Celebrate Diversity Day, or in Mountain View, where a new LGBT chapter is just getting started at one elementary school and has been initiated by a single parent. It’s not numbers that make a difference, it seems, but rather initiative that will help the LGBT community.
With the FAIR Education Act going into effect at the beginning of the year, teachers will now be including historical events (such as the Stonewall Riots) and people (such as Bayard Rustin & Harvey Milk) that have had an impact on society regardless of their sexual orientation, into the curriculum. It has been emphasized that lessons will not include intimate details about LGBT figures, a huge fear of the opposition.
The forum also showed a film put together by the Human Rights Campaign showcasing young students and what they’re meaning of ‘gay’ is. Children learn very early on and it is up to parents and teachers to intervene in appropriate ways for them to learn about usage and terms early, just as they learn other facts of life. The groups involved are hoping for a social normalization of LGBT rights as a proactive approach towards helping our community in the future years to come.
Check out the film here.
For more information on the upcoming forum in San Francisco, click here.
For more information on the upcoming forum in the East Bay, click here.