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Six Actions School Boards Can Take for More Inclusive and Affirming Education Environments for LGBTQ+ Students and Staff

Students in a classroom

Happy Pride Month!

Here at School Board Partners, we are proud to support school board members across the country who identify as LGBTQ+. As many states have spent the last several years ostracizing and excluding members of our community, especially targeting our trans students and families, the visibility of our LGBTQ+ school board members is increasingly crucial.

We surveyed our school board members for inclusive policies and practices that support or empower LGBTQ+ students in their districts. While this list is not exhaustive, we hope it encourages you to consider what can be done in your local context and spurs additional constructive change efforts.

  1. Pass anti-bullying policies with safe space provisions that offer staff training and student services specifically for LGBTQ+ students.

GLSEN, the nation’s leading education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students, publishes a Safe Space Toolkit for staff and school leaders that include best practices for supporting, educating and advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools.

  1. Ensure employment protections for LGBTQ+ staff.

A school district that better supports LGBTQ is likely to have more students who see themselves in their teachers and feel supported and included at school.

  1. Pass resolutions to affirm LGBTQ+ students.

Especially in states where lawmakers , local resolutions can serve as a powerful tool to stand up for LGBTQ+ students, staff and families. They can serve to outline what the board’s vision for – even if operating as a lone enclave bucking regressive statewide leadership.

  1. In New Orleans, LA, the Orleans Parish School Board adopted a resolution to oppose the state’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.
  2. In Indianapolis, IN, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in support of the LGBTQIA+ community
  3. In Tempe, AZ, the Governing Board of the Tempe Union School District passed a resolution affirming and supporting all LGBTQ+ students and staff.
  1. Implement LGBTQ+ inclusive practices at the district level
    1. In Denver, CO, every middle and high school student is guaranteed to have at least one gender-inclusive bathroom at school.
    2. In Howard County, MD, speakers sign up with their preferred pronouns to address the public during school board meetings.
  2. Implement comprehensive sex education
  3. Take small actions in whatever space you can
    1. Post signals to students that your classroom is a safe space or “no place for hate
    2. Integrate LGBTQ+ history or examples into your lessons
    3. Learn more inclusive language
    4. Sponsor a Gay-Straight Alliance or actively LGBTQ+ inclusive student organization
    5. Equip yourself with responses to combat homophobic speech
    6. Get involved with your local PFLAG chapter
    7. Pursue continuous professional development

Remember that no action is too big or too small. Just one advocate or positive interaction can make a student otherwise feel a sense of belonging.