Sunday, February 23, 2014

Safe Spaces


        These authors Annemarie Caccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy argue that the LGBT community should be welcomed at schools. Through out the article they give examples of how teachers handled the topic of LGBT kids. In the beginning of the article they talk about the classroom and what it should represent. They say it is a place where common interests and individual differences coexist, also where differences are explored, expected and embraced. I could not agree more, I think teachers are still working on the appropriate way to talk about LGBT because it has become more and more common in America. 


        One part of the article that I thought was interesting is when they say that "If our homes are incubators, keeping our children safe as they grow into the patterns of family life, schools are 'outcubators' -- places that introduce new ways of thinking and behaving"(pg 84). To think that you are kind of sheltered from everything that is not your family and then you go out in the world and see a black kid for the first time, or a LGBT kid for the first time. It must peak your interest, but you have to be aware that they are there for the same reasons you are, to learn. 

        The curriculum that some schools have are half the problem, they portray negative representations of LGBT people. For example in some health or biology classes they might relate HIV/AIDS as a disease of gays. Or when learning about families in elementary school they talk about single-parent families, adoptive families, divorced families, and foster families but not families that have two moms with children or two dads and their adopted daughter they just don't make the curricular cut. History classes essentially erase any influence moments from the past that have to do with LGBT, which isn't fair at all because they talk about everything that has to do with topics like civil rights and women's suffrage. 

        One of the stories they told was about a girl named Maria a sophomore in college and an "out" lesbian, she liked her Spanish class and her Spanish teacher. She had answered a question on a test that asked 'do you have a sweetheart?' she wrote 'yes, I have a girlfriend' the teacher marked the question wrong and said it should be boyfriend not girlfriend. she then asked what should she do about this, should she explain to the teacher her situation and ask to change to grade, should she just let it go. Maria was tired and disappointed that as a young lesbian the teacher's red pen had just erased her identity all together. 

        The authors also talk about the idea of mirrors and windows in schools, "our classrooms need to be 'mirrors and windows' for all students-- mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own" (pg 88). It is important for students to feel like they belong especially at a young age where it will effect them the most. 

        “She [Megan Boler] suggests that to make up for years of invisibility, classrooms should over-represent the experiences of those who have been excluded or erased from history.” (page 92). I found this statement to be possible but within reason. I think that having a day of silence or a week during school where you celebrate the LGBT community, is completely fine. But not to all of a sudden decide that the curriculum should be all about LGBT and not about anything else. I think that would do more damage than not talking about it at all. 

“Good intentions are not enough; trying to see all students as the same is not enough. Being a fair-minded individual is not enough.” (pg 98)

Overall I think the argument of what is the appropriate way to make LGBT and inclusive part in elementary, secondary and high school classrooms is still a work in progress. 

This is a clip of Disney Channel introducing their first on-air gay couple on the show Good Luck Charlie. 


  1. Hi Mariah! Good job picking out and analyzing these quotes! I agree with you when you say that although we should represent LGBT relationships in our curriculum, we shouldn't over-represent them. Over-highlighting it would bring too much attention to the issue; sort of like when we talked about spotlighting children with disabilities. It marks it as "different" when it should be equal. I also like the link to the video - I hope more children's shows include LGBT couples! Nice post! :)

  2. I haven't seen that Disney bit before... interesting! Good stuff here!

  3. There are two points that you make in this blog post that I really liked. The first was what you said about history erasing the contributions and struggle of the LGBT community in classes and textbooks. As a future history teacher, it's important to me that everyone is represented in the historical narrative, because only then can we paint an accurate and significant picture of the past. The second point I liked was the one you made about avoiding over representation of LGBT experiences. I agree that that seems a bit like overkill and more harmful than anything else. Great post this week!

  4. Hey Mariah, you did a really nice job with this topic. And I particularly appreciated the acknowledgment that creating safety is a work in progress. I think it always will be. It is the nature of life, for things to always be shifting and flowing. And if we can get it down to grass roots and remember that we are all human, and have non judgmental compassion for one another, it would be a really good thing.