Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Invisibility to Inclusivity for LGBTQ Students

November 17, 2020 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

I read with interest “The Essential Traits of a Positive School Climate” (Special Report: “Getting School Climate Right: A Guide for Principals,” Oct. 14, 2020). The EdWeek Research Center survey of principals and teachers provides interesting insight as to why there are still school climate issues for LGBTQ students.

Respondents were asked, “How comfortable do you believe the following groups of students [Black, LGBTQ, immigrant, students from low-income families, Hispanic, students with disabilities, and female students] feel at your school?” Eighteen percent of respondents selected, “We do not have [LGBTQ students] at our school.” About 2 percent and 34 percent of respondents also said LGBTQ students were “extremely uncomfortable” or “very, somewhat uncomfortable” at school, respectively.

We have a steep hill to climb in making schools safe and inviting for these students. School leaders must question those who believe that LGBTQ students do not exist at their school. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ young people are at higher risk for both contemplating and attempting suicide than their heterosexual peers. As a gay woman and an out superintendent (who was an out high school principal for 11 years), it is my professional responsibility to make schools safe places for LGBTQ students and tell students—through institutional word and action—that they are safe.

We have a long way to go before we can say we are getting school climate right for LGBTQ students as well as Black, Indigenous, and students of color. As these students have long experienced and can attest, invisibility is the first step to marginalization and devaluation, particularly within the walls of the school building. In this time of heightened anxiety, political uncertainty, and hate-filled rhetoric, schools must be a refuge for, and a champion of, the invisible.

Terri L. Holden

Superintendent

Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District

Yellow Springs, Ohio

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 18, 2020 edition of Education Week as Invisibility to Inclusivity for LGBTQ Students

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety 'Swatting' Hoaxes Disrupt Schools Across the Country. What Educators Need to Know
School lockdowns can cause stress to students, teachers, and families, even if threats don't materialize.
8 min read
A bald man and a woman with long brown hair tearfully hug a teen girl who is wearing a pale beighe backpack. Three women look on with concerned expressions.
A family shares a tearful reunion after Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas, went into lockdown because of a false report of a shooting.
Kin Man Hui/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
School Climate & Safety How to Spend $1 Billion in School Safety Funds: Here's What the Feds Recommend
A "Dear Colleague" letter from the Education Department puts a priority on creating inclusive, equitable school environments.
4 min read
The U.S. Department of Education urged schools to use federal funds to support the social, emotional, mental, and physical health needs of students in a "dear colleague" letter sent Sept. 15.
Third grader Alexis Kelliher points to her feelings while visiting a sensory room at Williams Elementary School in Topeka, Kan.
Charlie Riedel/AP
School Climate & Safety A Pair of Retired Military Officers Makes a Case Against Arming Teachers
Their comments come on a call organized by a national teachers' union pushing back against the school safety strategy.
3 min read
A man in a black polo shirt with short sleeves holds up a hand gun in front of a projector screen that shows a diagram of a gun with labeled parts.
Clark Aposhian, president of Utah Shooting Sport Council, holds a pistol during concealed weapons training for 200 Utah teachers, in West Valley City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP