Going back to school is hard for anyone, but for LGBTQ+ kids there is an added layer of difficulty. Why? Well, they have to deal with pronouns that may not fit, names they have tried to forget, new teachers who may or may not be affirming, school policies that exclude them (like the anti-trans sports bans), gendered dress codes, gendered P.E. classes, locker rooms, bathrooms, and the list goes on…. It was exhausting just to write that sentence- imagine living it. So what can you do to help LGBTQ+ students?

If you’re the parent of LGBTQ+ youth, make sure your kids know they can come and talk to you about anything bothering them at school. Make sure they know you will support them if any issues arise. Ask them if there is anything causing them anxiety. With my kids, sometimes we talk through scenarios and brainstorm how to approach different issues. Bathrooms were something my trans son and I talked about a lot. We discussed what he would say if a teacher or administrator questioned him. Then he would be more prepared if he were called out. As a parent, we often want to solve all our kids problems, but we need to resist that urge because LGBTQ+ kids need to learn how to advocate for themselves. It’s a life-long and neccessary skill they will need to thrive. Once my kids got past elementary school, I always asked them if they needed my help or just needed a good listener (and a hug and maybe some cookies).

If you’re a teacher, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure your LGBTQ+ students feel valued. First of all, use the names your students ask you to use. Don’t ask questions, just mark it down on your roster- and make sure to put it on the roster for a substitute teacher. Use the pronouns your students ask you to use. If you struggle with the correct pronouns, then just stick to using their name for now. Don’t gender your classroom. You don’t need to seperate so-called “girl” things and “boy” stuff. I’m talking about learning centers, toys, books, and anything else in your classroom. And bathroom passes should be just bathroom passes. You don’t need to seperate them by gender. And please don’t make students line up by gender. Lining them up by gender just brings unwanted attention to gender nonconforming kids. It also forces nonbinary kids to choose. And watch your words, don’t refer to your students as “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen”. Just call them people or students or kids (or minions!). Critically examine and unlearn stereotypes and encourage all your students to be themselves. By making a few small changes, you can have a big impact on the well-being of LGBTQ+ students.

So give your kids big hugs this first week of school. Talk through anything causing them anxiety and be prepared to reach out to the school if needed. I worry it’s going to be a rough year for LGBTQ+ students- especially those living in red states. But I try to focus on the positive. There are a lot of teachers who are also allies. Counselors are there to make sure all students are successful. If needed, lean on your child’s counselor and don’t be afraid to ask for whatever your student needs. If you get push back, request a meeting. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

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.