Representation Matters: The Impact of Inclusive Education & Teaching LGBTQ+ History
In recognition of LGBTQ+ History Month this October, DreamWakers launched a social media series highlighting LGBTQ+ representation across career fields and sharing inclusive education resources with the goal of helping students of all identities feel supported in their learning environments. It is estimated that 11 percent of young people ages 13–18 identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual¹ and nearly two percent identify as transgender,² a substantial, and growing population. For LGBTQ+ youth to thrive in their communities and pursue their dreams in adulthood, they must feel safe and supported in their adolescence.
It can be difficult for LGBTQ+ youth to live their authentic lives when they don’t see themselves represented in the classroom or the workforce. Having LGBTQ+ role models who can inspire and empower students to embrace their identity is critically important for creating a safe and supportive environment for these youth. One avenue to increase representation in your classroom is by utilizing an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum.
By reading, writing, learning, and talking about inspirational LGBTQ+ history and role models, the classroom can be one of the most inclusive and supportive environments for students. Here are a few ways educators can craft an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum:
Along with teaching about LGBTQ+ history in the classroom, educators can support the social and emotional wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth through allyship. This might look like:
- Providing students with LGBTQ+ role models.
- Encouraging students to share their preferred pronouns with you and their peers.
- Speaking out against anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination. Having a plan of action for witnessing discrimination is key.
- Being supportive if a student chooses to come out to you and, of course, respecting their confidentiality.
In addition to being supported in their learning environments, LGBTQ+ youth greatly benefit from being exposed to LGBTQ+ career role models. DreamWakers is proud to work with a robust LGBTQ+ speaker community. Read below some reflections on the importance of representation from several DreamSpeakers:
Ryan Fecteau: Assistant Majority Leader, Maine House of Representatives
Catherine Bonn: Software Engineer, Twitter
Julia Carpenter: Wall Street Journal Reporter
Our DreamSpeakers never cease to amaze us with their insights. Thank you to Julia, Ryan, and Catherine for your candidness and willingness to be featured.
Although October is coming to an end and our LGBTQ+ History Month series is concluding, we know that inclusive education and representation are necessary year-round. We at DreamWakers hope that LGBTQ+ youth will be empowered by their educators and their school environments, and exposed to LQBTQ+ role models, including through our flashchats, to actualize their dreams in adulthood.
Written by Sarah Duval, DreamWakers Education Intern