For my advocacy project, I attended a K-12 ally training at Humboldt State University (HSU) hosted by social justice educator Jessica Pettitt. The training was aimed at providing future educators the knowledge and skills they need to be allies to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning or queer (LGBTQ) youth. This training inspired my advocacy work and helped guide my approach. After this training, I decided I wanted to engage the public to discuss issues that the LGBTQ community is facing. On three different occasions, I went to various places at HSU and offered people a handout, which highlighted reasons to advocate for LGBTQ youth including their status of higher risk of self-harming behavior and homelessness. It also outlined ways to take action including:
– Invite your elected officials to address LGBTQ rights at a town meeting
– Change the policies of an organization you belong to include specific LGBTQ rights
– Pass a non-discrimination ordinance in your community
– Start a local support or education group
– Volunteer with an LGBTQ advocacy group
– Ask your library to carry books that deal positively with LGBTQ people
– Advocate to make restrooms more accessible to trans people
– Encourage a nondiscrimination policy at your workplace
– Vote for laws that support LGBTQ rights!
Through this advocacy work, I learned that educators play a major role in creating a safe school environment for LGBTQ students. Teachers need to be mindful that their curriculum is inclusive and their school policies reflect the needs of LGBTQ students. Teachers can encourage their schools to implement staff trainings, which can help the faculty recognize and respond to harassment of LGBTQ students. I will use this knowledge that I gained throughout my career as an educator.