Supporting LGBTQ+ Rights and Inclusion
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All young people—including LGBTQ+ youth and children of LGBTQ+ families—should have the right to safe, affirming and inclusive schools; on this point, responsible adults agree.

But currently, discriminatory laws and censorship policies threaten the well-being of children. LGBTQ+ young people and families are being targeted, and their histories and experiences are being misrepresented and erased. In the current hostile learning environment created by censorship laws and policies aimed at prohibiting the teaching of honest history and further marginalizing LGBTQ+ students and educators, social justice education is essential.

The insidious combination of racism and queerphobia can seriously affect the mental health of our Black, Indigenous and other LGBTQ+ youth of color, especially amid the political attacks on human rights through efforts to control bodily autonomy including reproductive rights and identity. And with the increase in politically motivated attacks on the rights of transgender youth to receive affirming care, we must all work to create safer spaces in our schools and communities for trans and nonbinary young people.

We offer the following Learning for Justice resources that provide information about inclusive education practices that help all children to thrive. And recognizing that LGBTQ+ history is American history—which all of our students deserve to know—educators can use these LFJ resources to acknowledge, remember and teach intersectional LGBTQ+ history. 

We all need to work to provide space for LGBTQ+ people. We encourage parents, caregivers, educators and community members to support the rights of all children to safety and representation. Advocate for the children and families in your communities who are being harmed.



Articles About Supporting LGBTQ+ Children and Families

Building a Just Future (2023)
In this Learning for Justice magazine feature, four transgender high school activists courageously share their stories and explain how educators and allies can help them amid the hostile attacks on their human rights.

A Refuge for LGBTQ+ Young People (2023)
This magazine feature highlights how student-run Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs are a federally protected space for young people to survive and thrive in the increasingly hostile anti-LGBTQ+ climate in schools and across the country.

Dear Young Person, You Are Valued (2023)
In this magazine Q&A, activists Nikole Parker and Brandon Wolf emphasize the need for each of us to advocate for safer schools where all young people are valued.

Changemakers for an Inclusive and Just Future (2023)
In this installment of LFJ magazine’s Youth Activism column, LGBTQ+ youth activists from the ChangeMakers Leadership Institute advocate for inclusive education and community resilience in the face of oppressive legislation in Florida.

Inclusive Education Benefits All Children (2022)
This magazine feature emphasizes that in confronting attacks on LGBTQ+ students’ rights to representation and safety in public education, we hold firm to creating inclusive and affirming learning spaces.

Visibility Is Power (2022)
In this installment of LFJ magazine’s Why I Teach column, elementary educator Skye Tooley emphasizes the power of LGBTQ+ visibility in fostering positive spaces of understanding and empathy where all students feel visible and accepted.

Gender-Affirming Care: What It Is and Why It’s Necessary (2022)
The willingness to learn, the active step of acknowledging and affirming LGBTQ+ students, and empathy in recognizing the difficulties for these young people help create safer spaces for trans and nonbinary children.

My Pride Is Black, My Juneteenth Is Queer (2022)
The celebration of Pride and Juneteenth offers an opportunity for reflection on intersecting identities and highlights the need to support and make space for Black LGBTQ+ youth.

Talking With Students About Transgender Athletes (2021)
As lawmakers across the country continue to restrict the rights of transgender people—particularly transgender young people—educators can take this moment to start a conversation about transgender identity, justice and ways to take action. This article by transgender/nonbinary educator Skye Tooley provides recommendations and resources.

Supporting Nonbinary Educators in the Workplace (2019)
In this Q&A, 2019 GLSEN Educator of the Year Ace Schwarz explains how educators can support nonbinary colleagues and create more inclusive school environments.

They Didn’t Back Down (2019)
Florida educators were targeted for standing up for LGBTQ+ students. This 2019 article examines how they stood strong.

Let’s Talk About Nonbinary (2019)
This article offers a helpful description of what it means to be nonbinary as well as some concrete first steps for how you can support nonbinary young people.

Is “Queer” OK To Say? Here’s Why We Use It (2019)
Queer: pejorative or reappropriated term? Yes and yes. But after members of our community questioned our use of the word, we want to explain.

The Book of Matthew (2018)
Matt Shepard died decades ago, but his name lives on in stories, on stage, in the law—and in the classroom.

Nothing About Us Without Us Is for Us (2017)
Youth activist Hazel Edwards recounts her journey from being pushed out of school to teaching her district how to serve transgender students.

Honoring LGBTQ Voices During Hispanic Heritage Month (2017)
Too often, curricula and media position racial and sexual identities as either/ors. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to change that.

Being There for Nonbinary Youth (2016)
Many nonbinary youth experience bullying and discriminatory policies at school—sometimes compounded by a lack of support at home. This article and its accompanying toolkit delve into some strategies for supporting nonbinary young people at school.

LGBTQ and Muslim are Not Dichotomous Identities (2016)
Many people in United States hold the mistaken belief that LGBTQ people and Muslims are fundamentally at odds. As educators, we can teach the reality that LGBTQ Muslims exist and honor the voices of this identity group.

Sex? Sexual Orientation? Gender Identity? Gender Expression? (2015)
Knowing the difference can make all the difference to students who do not conform to binary norms.

Seeing All Identities of LGBTQ Youth of Color (2015)
Giovanni Blair McKenzie gave this speech about supporting LGBTQ+ youth of color and “interlocking forms of discrimination” at the 2015 Human Rights Campaign’s Time to THRIVE conference.

Caroline Is a Boy (2005)
This article powerfully examines the challenges faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming students in schools. With the current increase in politically motivated legislation targeting the rights of transgender students and rolling back progress for more-affirming school spaces, these challenges continue to be a reality today.

Publications and Multimedia Resources

Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students
(Note: This guide is being revised, and a new version will be published in 2024.)

This guide provides resources for making curriculum and policy decisions that include LGBTQ+ students and prepare all students to thrive in a diverse democracy.

The LGBTQ Library
This booklist, compiled to accompany the current Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students resource guide, offers a good starting place for educators who need to diversify their curricula and classroom libraries to include more LGBTQ+ identities. 

[Podcast Series] Queer America
From Learning for Justice and hosts Leila Rupp and John D'Emilio, this 13-episode series takes listeners on a journey that spans from Harlem to the Old West frontier, revealing stories of LGBTQ+ life we should have learned in school.

[Film Kit] Bibi
The film Bibi tells the story of a Latinx father and son who can talk about anything in the letters they pass back and forth when conversation seems too much. When Ben, affectionately called “Bibi” by his father, hands his father a letter that reads, “I’m gay,” their relationship is challenged to its core.

[Webinar] LGBTQ Best Practices: Classroom Culture and Curriculum
Based on our publication Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students, this 2018 webinar models how to create an inclusive classroom culture and build an intersectional curriculum that incorporates queer history and perspectives.

[Webinar] Gender Savvy: Creating an Inclusive School Climate
In this 2016 webinar, LFJ teams up with Johanna Eager from Welcoming Schools to exploring how to better support LGBTQ+ students and colleagues at school.  

[Webinar] Let’s Talk! Discussing Gender in the Classroom
In this 2016 webinar, LFJ teams up with Gender Spectrum to help educators think beyond the gender binary and to create gender-inclusive classrooms.

Understanding and Teaching LGBTQ+ History

Queer People Have Always Existed—Teach Like It (2021)
Educators must commit to undoing the systemic silencing of queer figures throughout history. Here are some ways to more inclusively explore the past.

Teaching Stonewall (2019)
Stonewall’s true history remains largely forgotten—and often unknown among young people. In the cultural imagination, it remains shrouded in myth. But the true Stonewall story can be taught. This article explores how—and why.

Black LGBTQ History: Teachers Must Do a Better Job (2017)
Our curricula should not present a narrow, monolithic narrative about Black history that omits certain voices and identity groups, such as LGBTQ+ individuals.

[Lesson] The Role of Gay Men and Lesbians in the Civil Rights Movement
This lesson series introduces students to four key figures in LGBTQ+ history who made incredible contributions to the Civil Rights Movement: James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Pauli Murray and Bayard Rustin.

[Film] Hawaiians Live in Aloha
This animation sequence from the film A Place in the Middle explains traditional Hawaiian gender roles and their conception of māhū, or the middle. Kumu Hina, a teacher at Hālau Lōkahi—a public charter school in Hawaii—also discusses the history of colonization and its impact on Hawaiian culture.

StoryCorps: Stonewall Riots
In this audio segment from the oral history project StoryCorps, Michael Levine shares his memories of the 1969 Stonewall Riots with his friend Matthew Merlin.

StoryCorps: Gay in the Marine Corps
In this audio segment from the oral history project StoryCorps, former Marine Kendall Bailey talks to his friend Don Davis about his experience when a staff sergeant discovered that he was gay.

Paragraph 175
Paragraph 175 was the long-standing German law that criminalized sexual activity between men. This version of the law, passed in 1935 under the Nazi regime, imposed harsher restrictions and led to a dramatic rise in the number of people prosecuted.

A map of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi with overlaid images of key state symbols and of people in community

Learning for Justice in the South

When it comes to investing in racial justice in education, we believe that the South is the best place to start. If you’re an educator, parent or caregiver, or community member living and working in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, we’ll mail you a free introductory package of our resources when you join our community and subscribe to our magazine.

Learn More