LGBT students will feel most supported in a positive school climate where teachers are aware of their own biases, where students feel engaged enough not to be "bystanders" when they see peers being bullied, and where students who are struggling with self-acceptance, depression, and anxiety trust school employees enough to seek out help when they need it. That was the big takeaway from last night's #ewedchat, a Twitter discussion on LGBT student issues.
So just create that environment and everything will be fine. Easy right?
It might not be easy, but it's important, said participants, who included teachers, administrators, and LGBT student advocates. Like many issues related to student well-being and engagement, the answer isn't found in a single, silver-bullet policy, they said. Rather, schools must take countless small incremental steps to develop an ecosystem of support that will benefit all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or life circumstances, they said.
Involving all students in more areas of school life and decisionmaking will help them feel empowered to shape the environment for their peers, tweeters said, and teachers need adequate professional development to support all students.
Here's a brief recap, courtesy of Storify:
For further reading on these subjects, refer back to my post that previewed the chat. Thanks to all who joined us. Education Week and Education Week Teacher plan to host additional #EWedchat sessions on issues like curriculum, policy, classroom strategies, and student issues.