It’s that time of the year again. Many kids are heading back to school after more than a year of distance learning. The beginning of the school year always brings a combination of excitement, hope, and nerves. But this year is different because the pandemic is not over. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that kids of all ages will be able to get the vaccine soon.

My kids have been back in school for two weeks. They are in high school, so they are fully vaxxed. I am trying to keep the risks of attending school in perspective. After more than a year of distance learning, it was really important for them to go back. My kids lost contact with everyone except their best friends. Discord and DM’s can’t take the place of real-life interactions. And a computer program or a computer screen is not a substitute for interacting in a classroom. My kids learned while they were at home because they had dedicated teachers, and if they needed help, we were available. However, group projects and discussions weren’t the same in an online environment. How could they be? So I’m glad they are back in school, but I’m also worried. I guess it’s just part of being a parent during a pandemic.

LGBTQ+ students have the added stress of wondering how teachers and other students will treat them. This is a worry they have during a typical school year. Now it’s compounded by the fact that kids have been home for a very long time. Some kids were in middle school when the pandemic started. Suddenly they are sophomores attending a new and unfamiliar school. My oldest left campus for spring break his sophomore year, and now he is a senior. I can’t decide if time slowed down or sped up during the pandemic, but it’s finally sunk in that my kids are quite a bit older than they were when the world shut down.

A lot can change in a year and a half. Kids have had time and space during the pandemic to focus on themselves. So some kids have transitioned during the time away from the classroom, and some have come out. And let’s face it. It’s been a rough ride the last 17 months: a pandemic, virtual school, a presidential election, January 6th, voting laws shenanigans, and an alarming number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in state legislatures. LGBTQ+ kids have been in the spotlight. It’s caused a lot of anxiety.

The best thing we can do for our kids is continue to love and support them unconditionally. Check-in with them often. Ask about their day. Virtual learning has been isolating, but being thrust back into school can be stressful too. After so much time away, it’s possible they don’t know as many kids at school. Families might have moved away or decided to home school. So kids might not have as many friends to get them through those first weeks. Hopefully, they can find their friend group quickly. Hopefully, they will have at least a few supportive teachers. And maybe they will be able to join a Gay-Straight Alliance where they can connect with other LGBTQ+ students. Fingers crossed.

The U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services recorded a Back-to-School message for Transgender students. I love that they did this. Watch it here Back-to-School.

Categories: Advice

Rainbow Advice

I'm the parent of LGBTQ+ children and I want to empower other parents to advocate for their children. If you can't find an answer on this site, please email me at admin@rainbowadvice.com. I will try to locate helpful resources for you.