The role of school counselor is integral to creating an environment where all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression, feel safe and accepted at school. School counselors may feel hesitant to address issues affecting LGBTQQ students and families because they lack experience or awareness in working with LGBTQQ youth or children of LGBTQQ parents. Others may work in environments where they feel powerless to change the status quo or to address a discriminatory school climate. Between scheduling, parent-teacher conferences, classroom guidance lessons, and a heavy caseload, it is often difficult for school counselors to find the time necessary to proactively address LGBTQQ issues – such as bullying or prejudice in schools.
GSSC is here to help. The following is a list of detailed suggestions that will facilitate positive systemic change within your school:
Work with your principal and/or school board to include a comprehensive non-discrimination and anti-bullying policy, one that protects all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Sponsor a Gay-Straight Alliance (consider a name change, one that is inclusive of transgender, bisexual and questioning students).
Let students know your office is safe. Place a “Safe Zone” sticker on your door and encourage others to do the same.
Encourage media specialists to carry books that are inclusive of LGBTQQ people and issues.
Always remember that the real experts on LGBTQQ youth are LGBTQQ youth; students are an integral part of transforming school climate and should be involved in creating sustainable systemic change.
Incorporate diversity and social justice into your classroom guidance lessons. For lesson plans, visit www.tolerance.org
Be inclusive of LGBT families
Avoid dichotomizing gender (e.g., using phrases like, “boys aren’t supposed to…).
Address school personnel on issues affecting LGBTQQ students or request a training from Georgia Safe School Coalition
Encourage your school to participate in a Day of Action:
Day of Silence
Think B4 You Speak
No Name-Calling Week
*For more information on Days of Action, visit www.glsen.org
Supporting Trans Students: An Overview for Secondary School Personnel– recorded webinar of GSSC co-founders Dr. Anneliese Singh and Maru Gonzalez discussing basic information to best support transgender and gender non-conforming students. Along with the recording you can download the powerpoint slides here.
“What Can Counselors do to Help Create a Supportive Climate for Learning for Gay and Lesbian Students?” – Presentation by GSSC member Ken Jackson at Clayton County School.