As a parent or caregiver it’s instinctual to protect your loved ones. When sending your kids back to school, you are putting a significant amount of trust in teachers, administrators, other students, and community members. No doubt, this can be incredibly nerve-wracking. So, how can you best protect your kids when you can’t be physically present at school with them?
Proud mom, former educator, and Missouri’s Regional Director of PFLAG, and founder of PFLAG St. Charles,Jill Aul, affirms, “Our kids have the right to learn in a safe environment,” and encourages parents to “arm yourself with resources.”
In collaboration with PFLAG and TransParent USA, check out this resource guide for parents, caregivers, and loved ones of LGBT students in Missouri.
- Language is constantly evolving. If you aren’t already, get familiar with LGBTQ language. Having the right tools to talk with your children, teachers, and other parents is essential when communicating the rights and needs of your child.
- Identify allies within your school and district early on. Jill Aul recommends reaching out to teachers, counselors, and administrators before the school year even begins when you can.
- Connect with other parents of other LGBTQ children through local support groups. PFLAG and TransParent USA have chapters across Missouri.
- Know that there are other parents and loved ones out there who are having similar experiences. If you are unable to connect with other parents in the community due to living in an isolated or rural location, check out blogs on TransParent USA and PFLAG’s websites.
- Create an affirming environment at home. Aul emphasizes that “Home should be a refuge.” While one cannot control what happens outside of the home, one can ensure that home is a safe space abundant with emotional support.
- Attend their sporting events and extracurricular activities. While it’s not possible to attend every event, studies show that LGBTQ students, particularly teens, are more likely to thrive when parents are highly involved and supportive. Also, encourage your young athlete to connect with other LGBTQ athletes through OutSports.
- Be aware of bullying that comes home. In our current political climate, no one is immune to cyber-bullying. It’s been reported that at least 28% of LGBTQ students have been bullied electronically. To help combat this phenomenon from affecting your child at home, establish home rules, and cultivate a healthy dialogue about how, when, and where computers and phones will be used. And yes, texting and social media have their own language. Fortunately there are guides to help with this, too.
- If you are concerned about the way a policy is being handled within your child’s school, do not hesitate to go to the school board and administration. (PROMO), the (ACLU), (Lambda Legal) are here to help you navigate policies. Policy is constantly in flux because of ongoing court cases and state and federal guidance. But no matter how policies are currently being interpreted, ALL students, including those who are LGBTQ, deserve to learn and participate at school safely and authentically as themselves. And everyday, schools have a responsibility to keep all students safe from bullying and harassment.
PFLAG: 20 Ways to Make School Safe
Growing American Youth (St. Louis Area)
Columbia MO- Prism @ Center Project
GALAGXY @ The GLO Center (Springfield & Southwest MO)
Tuesdays, 3pm – 8pm