According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), children “thrive when they are supported, valued and recognized in the environments that surround them. Their identities are deeply linked to their families, and thus the messages given to them about their families affect their own sense of self. Educators give messages every day that impact the degree to which a family feels welcome or unwelcome in the classroom. This message is conveyed through language, materials, forms, and images available in the environment.”
In a national survey of elementary school teachers, 80 percent do not include LGBT examples when teaching about family. Yet 7 million LGBT parents have children in U.S. schools. For these children, not seeing their families represented can create a disconnect that interrupts their learning. It also can prevent an environment of acceptance from other students.
How inclusive of LGBT families is your classroom?
Give yourself one point for each of the following statements that is true of your classroom. If you earn at least eight points, be proud of your inclusivity. If you earn fewer than eight points, look for opportunities to be more inclusive.
___ My classroom has books and curriculum materials about LGBT families.
___ Displays in my classroom include photographs, posters and drawings of many kinds of families, not just those with one mother and one father.
___ All children are welcome and encouraged to play with dress-up clothes in my classroom.
___ All children are welcome and encouraged to play with the kitchen sets in my classroom.
___ All children are welcome and encouraged to play with cars and trucks in my classroom.
___ The parental paperwork I send home is labeled “parent or guardian” rather than “mom or dad.”
___ When I ask my students to share information with parents, I ask them to tell a parent or grown-up rather than their mom or dad.
___ When we make holiday projects for parents, I am sensitive not to say that it’s “for your mom or dad.”
___ I ask my students about their families and encourage them to share information proudly, regardless of their family situation.
___ When we talk about family, I regularly include examples of LGBT families.
My classroom could be more inclusive by: