City Schools Up Resources on LGBTQ Issues

Part of the Department of Education’s new “Toolkit for Educators” about LGBTQ identity. | Courtesy of PBS Learning Media

BY ANDY HUMMThe New York City Department of Education is stepping up efforts to combat the isolation of LGBTQ youth and educate all students on queer issues, including lessons that integrate historic figures from the community such as the late Stonewall participant Marsha P. Johnson and authors like James Baldwin.

The DOE has developed a “Toolkit for Educators” called “Understanding LGBTQ+ Identity” that features videos from WNET-TV’s “First Person” LGBTQ series, a teacher’s guide, an early grades guide, a GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) checklist, and a handout on “LGBTQ Supports in Schools” that aims to make students aware of the resources available to them and the policies meant to protect them from bullying and harassment.

The DOE says it is committed to “develop supportive policies that affirm and validate LGBTQ students, families, and staff members.”

The brochure also lists “key dates” throughout the school year dedicated to such things a bisexual visibility, LGBTQ History Month (October), intersex awareness, transgender awareness, World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), a gender and sexuality alliance summit (Jan. 28), National Condom Day (Feb. 14), Harvey Milk Day (May 22), the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion (June 28), and more. It lists 20 community resources for LGBTQ youth and their families.

Out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson of Chelsea credits his out colleague Queens’ Daniel Dromm for developing this initiative and securing the funding from the DOE when he served as Education Committee chair last year. (Dromm now chairs the Finance Committee.)

Dromm, who also chairs the Council’s LGBT Caucus, told Schneps Community News Group, “Having been a teacher during the battle over the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum, which was designed to teach tolerance of all of New York City’s diverse communities including gay and lesbian people, I am heartened by this progress. Seeing LGBT-positive programs in our New York City public schools shows just how far we have come over the last 27 years. Teaching LGBT history, learning about LGBT authors, and anti-bullying programming help all students succeed — not just LGBT students. Learning about LGBT history demonstrates to students how we as a society have advanced from the battle to adopt the Rainbow Curriculum to achieving marriage equality. I am proud of the work that the New York Department of Education is doing under Jared Fox, the LGBT community liaison, and will continue to partner with them to make our schools more welcoming and inclusive places.”

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