Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-09-19
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MOMBIAN What's possible in LGBT-inclusive classrooms
by Dana Rudolph
2018-08-29

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


As the hot days of August try to tempt us into laziness, another influence pulls at many of us parents—the increasingly loud voice in the back of our heads that says school will soon be starting for our children. Can we fit in one more trip to the beach or to visit family? What's on the school supply list?

For LGBTQ parents, back-to-school time can also bring worries about whether our children will have their family structure and identities supported. Will the school and classroom climate be safe and welcoming? Will they find a community of supportive peers? Will the curriculum reflect families like theirs? It can all be a bit overwhelming. For those seeking advice and assistance, I've updated my annual annotated list of LGBTQ Back-to-School Resources at mombian.com .

I want to focus here, however, on my favorite new educational resource of the year, for it offers a wonderful model of what is possible in LGBTQ-inclusive education. Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom ( Teachers College Press and GLSEN ), by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth is a slim ( 160-page ) volume to help elementary school English language arts ( ELA ) teachers introduce or deepen classroom discussions around LGBTQ identity and gender. It's full of practical tips and ideas backed by curricular standards and classroom experience—but even if you're not a teacher ( or teach another subject ), it may provide much food for thought. Its brilliance lies in the way it offers tools for teachers who may have varying degrees of experience or comfort in addressing LGBTQ topics, and in showing how classrooms could become more inclusive even in schools resistant to such topics.

Ryan and Herman-Wilmarth each have years of experience teaching in elementary classrooms, although they now hold positions in higher education. They draw not only from their own experiences, but also from those of three other teachers whose classrooms they have studied ( and in some instances, co-taught in ) for several years. Ryan and Herman-Wilmarth both identify as queer, lesbian, cisgender and white, as does one of the other teachers; the remaining two are white, straight, cisgender allies. I wish this panel had been more diverse—teachers of color and transgender teachers would have added important perspectives—but they nevertheless provide a starting point as well as allies' ways of looking at the intersections of gender, race, and other identities.

By including LGBTQ people and ideas in classrooms, the authors explain, teachers provide students with "new windows and mirrors of the world around them." The authors offer many examples of how their panel of teachers helped students use inclusive texts to better understand their own lives or the lives and situations of others. Along the way, students practiced language arts skills, such as learning multiple meanings of words, using more nuanced vocabulary, and crafting arguments.

At the same time, the authors caution that a single LGBTQ-inclusive book cannot show the full range of LGBTQ lives—and indeed, the number of such books for elementary-age readers is still limited, particularly in showing LGBTQ people who are not White, suburban, or partnered. For this reason, and because some teachers may still find it challenging to overcome ( unwarranted ) parental and administrative concerns about LGBTQ-inclusive books, Ryan and Herman-Wilmarth also explore how to "queer," i.e., "mess up and complicate," traditional categories related to bodies, gender, sexual orientation, and love, even when not explicitly reading or talking about LGBTQ people. Classrooms can explore ideas of gender expectations, for example, even in books without LGBTQ characters. The authors acknowledge that this approach can, if mishandled, lead to the ongoing silencing of LGBTQ identities, but as a supplemental approach, it may begin to shift students' understanding, especially in places where discussion of clearly LGBTQ characters may not yet be possible.

Ryan and Herman-Wilmarth also say that teachers should go beyond simply asking if LGBTQ people are represented and look more closely at "how they are represented and what the overall message is to students as a result." For example, how can teachers expand the representation of LGBTQ people but also critique the ways in which portrayals are limited by race, class, or other intersecting identities? Again, the authors provide examples of this in practice, and connect them to specific ELA skills, such as clarifying terms, conducting independent research, writing prompts and engaging in classroom discussion.

They also offer resources for finding support and recommend that teachers familiarize themselves with their states' nondiscrimination and safe-schools laws ( or lack thereof ). Laws aside, they also suggest various ways of talking with parents and administrators about introducing LGBTQ-inclusive books or topics. And they list a small selection of picture and chapter books, media resources, and lesson plans.

Reading the Rainbow is a nuanced, practical volume, showing how a truly LGBTQ-inclusive classroom, benefitting children of all identities, means more than just reading a book or two. ELA teachers should value it—but it may also provide inspiration to teachers in other areas, including history/social studies and art, to get them thinking about similar approaches in their own fields. For us parents, it may even offer a model to guide the ways we read and discuss books with our children at home.

I chose to highlight this book because we deserve something positive to start the school year. I don't want to minimize the challenges we may face, individually and collectively—but I hope we take heart, knowing that such resources—and teachers like the authors and their colleagues—exist.

May our children have a school year full of friendship, inclusion and learning.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( Mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

2018 MIDWEST LGBTQ HEALTH SYMPOSIUM Jessica Halem keynote LGBTQ health symposium 2018-09-19 - Jessica Halem, a former Chicagoan and Harvard Medical School's first-ever LGBT program director, gave the keynote address, "Honor the Dead and Fight for ...


Gay News

BOOK REVIEW Perfectly Clear 2018-09-19 - Author: Michelle LeClair, with Robin Gaby Fisher $27; Berkley; 289 pages Michelle LeClair is an openly queer Scientologist who thought she could ...


Gay News

FALL THEATER PREVIEW Artemisia Fest fights for femme presentation 2018-09-19 - Google Artemisia Gentileschi's 17th-century oil painting Judith Beheading Holofernes. Seriously. Do it. I'll wait. The image is emblematic of Gentileschi's art: Magnificent, lush ...


Gay News

FALL OPERA PREVIEW Operas cover love, lust and lesbians 2018-09-19 - Replete with princes in crowns, queens in leather, women in love and womanizers in lust, the start to this year's opera season is ...


Gay News

Amateur, a trans memoir of masculinity, boxing and being a man 2018-09-19 - Thomas Page McBee is many people: a husband, an uncle, a brother, a son. He's also the first trans man to fight in ...


Gay News

Jean Leigh runs Boystown gallery for everyone 2018-09-19 - Jean Leigh always had a clear vision for what she wanted her Halsted Street gallery to be: "I wanted a gallery where you ...


Gay News

Holly Near in Chicago Sept. 28 2018-09-19 - Musician Holly Near will perform Friday, Sept. 28, at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., at 8 p.m. Near ...


Gay News

BYP100's Charlene Carruthers on being Black, feminist and queer 2018-09-19 - Despite the fact that, in Chicago, Charlene Carruthers and I are neighbors, the only time we can find to have this conversation is ...


Gay News

BYP100'S Charlene Carruthers gets 'Unapologetic' 2018-09-19 - First-time author Charlene Carruthers' Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements was published in August by Beacon Press. Carruthers is ...


Gay News

Chelsea Clinton at W&CF Oct. 21 2018-09-19 - Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton will be at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m. ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.