California Educator

December 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 63

H ow can you transform school culture so all stu- dents feel safe and valued on a daily basis? This question was discussed throughout CTA's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Issues Conference held in November in San Jose. More than 250 educators attended the gathering, which addressed issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, questioning/queer, intersex, ally/asexual (LGBTQIA) youth, school employees, parents and community. In the workshop "Ideas to Transform Your School Culture," two Glendale Teachers Association members shared their ongoing efforts to create a more supportive environment for LGBTQIA students at Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS) in the San Fernando Valley. It starts with creating "allies," said David Platt and Alicia Harris — two educators who have done just that. Platt is a physics teacher and the only openly gay educator on campus. As sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance, he worried about LGBTQIA students being bullied, and wanted to create a more welcoming, caring school environment. He he sent an email to colleagues asking if they were also interested in this goal. An emphatic yes came from U.S. history teacher Alicia Harris, who is straight. It's been four years since they teamed up to foster school climate change. It 's still a work in progress, but steps they took included: * Distributing a survey to determine whether stu- dents felt safe on campus. Platt was shocked by results showing that many students were treated badly because of their sexual orientation and gender identification. Nearly one quarter — or 22 percent — reported they By SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN GLBT Conference Examines School Culture David Platt and Alicia Harris, educators at Crescenta Valley High School, have led efforts to creative a more welcom- ing, supportive environment for LGBTQIA students. What did you learn from CTA's GLBT Conference? "Teachers need to be aware of our biases and understand differences within the GLBT commu- nity. These days many students define themselves as gender nonconforming. Gender and sexuality are much more fluid than in the past." RAY CLARK, U.S. history teacher, United Teachers Los Angeles "Knowing about specific legislation can be helpful if something is going on at your school that's not right. I learned amazing things about Title IX protecting GLBT students from harassment. Some- thing needs to be done to help transgender kids. They have a hard enough time as it is; we don't need to make it harder." MARY BETH WEST, Modesto Teachers Association "It's definitely made me more aware and sensitive about what I say to students. Instead of saying 'Please give this to your mom and dad,' I will say 'Please give this to your parents,' because maybe they have two moms or two dads." RAMON MACIAS, fih-grade teacher, Cabrillo Unified Teachers Association "What I got out of the presentation is that students are never too young when it comes to starting a discussion or opening a dialogue. Sometimes to support students, you must reach out to them." KIM ILVENTO, middle school social studies teacher, South Tahoe Educators Association 52

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - December 2015