June is pride month in which we highlight the progress there needs to be done in addressing the LGBTQ community, as well as celebrate the progress that we have made. And most importantly, celebrate all the people belonging to that community. Even if you do not identify as LGBTQ, but you want to be supportive of those who do, there are things you can do to help change and/or challenge the stereotypes facing those in the LGBTQ community.

You can start off by being an ally; an ally is any person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBTQ people. It’s important for allies to show that LGBTQ people are not alone as they work to improve school climate, and to take a stand in places where it might not be safe for LGBTQ people to be out or visible. Anybody, LGBT or non-LGBT, can be an ally.

Being an ally is important because even though all students are at risk of being bullied, harassed or called names at school, LGBTQ students face even worse school environments. Your visible support for these students can make a real difference in ways that will benefit the whole school, and make your fellow LBGTQ friends and peers feel more welcome. Nobody should have to fear going to school, and by standing up for them you’d be taking away some of that fear and anxiety because they know someone has their back.

Here are some examples of how you can be an ally:

Don’t make any assumptions about people. When engaging with students, or even other staff and parents, don’t assume you know their sexual orientation or gender identity. Don’t assume that everyone is heterosexual or fits into your idea of gender roles — be open to the variety of identities and expressions.

Use inclusive language. For example, instead of saying “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” you can say “partner”. This helps make it so LGBTQ are more comfortable with themselves and it also lets them know they can come to you for support.

Respond to anti-LGBTQ behavior. If you hear someone saying something negative, question them about it or stand up to someone if you hear them taunting someone for being LGBTQ.

For more information click here: www.glsen.org

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