New High School LGBTQ Club Sponsor looking for readings/resources/etc
November 13, 2016 5:45 PM   Subscribe

I am a new sponsor for a high School LGBTQ club and I am looking for readings/resources/etc to help me lead this group of kiddos with information, grace, and support.

Our school has not had a LGBTQ club of any sort in the past. I am a highschool teacher who has had several students who identify as gay who are looking for some sort of support in the wake of this year.

While I consider myself a strong ally, I don't think I'm as informed about these issues as I might be. I'm looking for some readings that would help me be a better sponsor/ally and give us some ideas about club activities that might be supportive and help these kids feel less alone.

You can assume that I'm an avid reading of Metafilter, so I'm mostly looking for resources outside of this website. In addition, we haven't yet decided what to call our club or if we should be affiliated with any national organizations or not. Suggestions on national groups working on this topic could be helpful. I imagine our first meeting or two might be talking about identification and how we will want to identify ourselves as a group.

I don't think that I'll get any push back from our school administration, but I'm less sure about the community/high school students in general. My biggest concern is that creating this club does not make any students feel MORE targeted. We will definitely talk about bullying, safe spaces, etc.

Any very specific suggestions about starting something like this from scratch in a conservative red state could be helpful.
posted by aetg to Education (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
GLSEN might be a good place to start. It's the The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network [pronounce: glisten]. The mission statement [from website]:
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike.

We recognize that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and we support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.

GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community. We welcome any and all individuals as members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or occupation, who are committed to seeing this philosophy realized in K-12 schools.
posted by the twistinside at 6:07 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Good for you! I'm a 55 y/o lesbian who came out in 1981, 2 years after I graduated from high school. I was raised in a very religious family -- although we lived in the SF Bay Area, I was terrified I was a lesbian. It seemed worse to me than being suicidally depressed. Fortunately, I made it through those years, am happily married (and hoping to stay that way!), and was able to reconcile with my parents before they died. I have also made it back to the church of my youth (Lutheran) and found it quite welcoming.

One resource you may not be aware of is called "Teaching Tolerance" -- here is a link to their sexual orientation material for 9-12 graders. Good luck and God bless you.
posted by elmay at 6:22 PM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Might I recommend YouTube? In my experience with the teenagers I work with, YouTube can be sort of hit or miss as a cultural touchstone for them but for the ones that love it? They really love it and it has helped a lot of them (they've relayed to me) understand and develop important mechanisms to cope with bullying, parental conversations and a range of other topics. And, in turn, it has helped me to show videos focusing on various issues and topics and let the kids discuss how it affects them or how the content helped them/how the content can be used to help others.

One YouTuber who is a hit with the kids I know is Tyler Oakley - a content creator who does a lot of silly fun videos but, also, confronts many serious topics about self-acceptance and coming out and being true to one's self in the face of criticism and pain.

There are a ton of others but asking the kids to talk about who they subscribe to on YouTube turned out to be one main component of building our connections with the teenagers in my program so maybe try it out?
posted by Merinda at 6:27 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

You may want to consider creating a parallel club that just so happens to meet at the same time in the same room to give kids who are not out to their parents cover, especially if you have lots of kids from religious or otherwise conservative families. Usually something vague about "volunteering" gets used for this. Having the club meet during lunch also works, but only if your school has a single lunch hour. (A teacher at my high school finally got to start a GSA after years of trying, but only if he used his lunch hour for it, which happened to be the least common lunch hour.)
posted by hoyland at 6:43 PM on November 13, 2016

Are you functioning in a more liberal/accepting social milieu, or within a conservative or religious one? I have some resources but it sort-of depends what your environment is.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 PM on November 13, 2016

Eyebrows McGee--this is located in a middle-ish sized city in the middle of Kansas. While it is heavily conservative here the focus hasn't been overtly anti-gay that I have seen. Of course, as middle aged married white woman I would probably not know as much?

Like I mentioned, I don't think I'll get push back from admin--but yes parents possibly. I'm not 100% sure who 'approves' clubs, but I'll fight if it comes to that.

I suppose we aren't too far from Topeka so I shouldn't rule any special visitors out....sigh.
posted by aetg at 6:54 PM on November 13, 2016

Hoyland--can you expand on what you mean a bit? Like was the school not wanting to let him because they were afraid that it would potentially out students if they came to the club?

I think I know what you are saying, just trying to make sure I'm getting it correctly.

I had also considered that it could be hard for some students who weren't ready to come out yet. My hopes is that just having the club in the school could be a small show of support and encouragement to them. If anything, we can push the straight allies portion---I certainly wasn't going to have any identify themselves particularly as either gay or a straight ally unless they just wanted to.
posted by aetg at 6:57 PM on November 13, 2016

Hoyland--can you expand on what you mean a bit? Like was the school not wanting to let him because they were afraid that it would potentially out students if they came to the club?

Oh sorry, that was really unclear. The school only let him hold the meetings during lunch because they didn't particularly want a GSA and it was a way of giving him what he wanted while doing the least possible. (There was a looming labor dispute mixed up in this, too.) The point was really that lunch can be a decent option for a meeting time, but only if there's a single lunch.

The thing about homophobic parents is that they don't particularly want their kid being an ally in the first pace and will just assume the kid is gay if they're going to a GSA.
posted by hoyland at 7:46 PM on November 13, 2016

My biggest concern is that creating this club does not make any students feel MORE targeted.

Not sure what the sentiment is these days around this, but back in the old days, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, my high school had a gay/straight alliance. It was a welcoming atmosphere for people who were LGBTQ and their straight-identified friends/allies. I don't know if the goal was to ensure that students didn't feel more targeted, but it seems like that helped. Folks who have participated in groups more recently may have thoughts on whether this is an effective route these days.
posted by Toddles at 10:13 PM on November 13, 2016

« Older How long are dried mushrooms good for?   |   Donate or volunteer at Standing Rock? Both? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.