Story at a glance
- More than 16,000 teachers last year were given resources to better support their LGBTQ+ students and create a more queer- and gender-inclusive learning environment, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) said Tuesday.
- Resources include lessons on gender, a catalog of LGBTQ+ definitions and a list of children’s books with transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive characters.
- The group’s efforts come as hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered in state legislatures. Dozens of them aim to limit discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
More than 16,000 educators last year took part in professional development trainings to foster a more LGBTQ+ and gender-inclusive learning environment for their students, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said Tuesday.
The group in its inaugural Welcoming Schools Annual Report announced that teachers in 37 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Taiwan had participated in training offered through the program, affecting nearly 4 million students.
According to the report, the percentage of teachers who believed they could adequately support LGBTQ+ students more than doubled after receiving Welcoming Schools training — jumping from 41 percent to 86 percent.
“The data is clear. Positive outcomes for LGBTQ+ youth rely on educators who have the skills and passion to create safe, affirming school environments,” HRCF Senior Vice President Jay Brown wrote in a message included in the report.
The Welcoming Schools program — initially launched in Boston in 2004 and adopted by the HRC in 2006 — provides resources to schools nationwide to “embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying, and support transgender and non-binary students.”
Resources include lessons on gender, a catalog of LGBTQ+ definitions and a list of children’s books with transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive characters. Welcoming Schools also provides educators with anti-bullying resources, like how to appropriately respond when students say “that’s so gay” or make other anti-LGBTQ+ comments.
The report comes as more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered in state legislatures across the country, the HRC said.
“As educators across the country are facing unprecedented challenges with both the pandemic and the relentless cascade of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that target students, parents and educators, this inaugural Welcoming Schools report flips the script to highlight nationwide accomplishments and what an inclusive educational environment truly looks like,” Welcoming Schools Director Cheryl Greene said Tuesday in a statement.
“Our work to amplify the voices of inclusive educators and administrators to center the needs of our most marginalized students continues to grow and makes schools everywhere a more safe and welcoming space for all,” she said.
Dozens of bills introduced this year specifically target classrooms and aim to curb LGBTQ+ rights by restricting in-school discussion or instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Those who support such legislation say those topics are too mature or may be inappropriate for young children and teenagers.