September 14, 2012
Back-to-School Voices: Alan Brown
Trustee, The American Boychoir School
Princeton, New Jersey
As a newly-appointed trustee to a small independent middle school, one of the first things I did was to request a copy of the official school handbooks–this included the Employee Handbook as well as the Student & Parent Handbook. To prepare for the new year, I read these documents cover to cover, highlighting all language pertaining to sexuality and or coupling and noting the places where wording was not LGBT-inclusive. This meant looking at everything from non-discrimination and sexual harassment policies to the discussion of school dances to the explanation of spousal benefits.
I am now working with the Head of School to update these important documents that serve as the legal foundation to the school’s policy, but also set a very important tone around LGBT issues as they are distributed to every member of the organization. Just as in our classrooms and hallways, the words we as schools use in our websites, publications, memoranda, and just every day emails can send an important signal to all constituents–parents, students, employees, and anyone else involved–that we respect the contributions of all people to the school community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Resources to help you get back to school
Safe Space Kit – learn how to create safe spaces in your school for everyone!
Model Policies & Laws – sample policies and laws for use at the state, district, and school level to make sure LGBT students are safe and respected
What have YOU done to transform you school? What ideas or tips can you provide to other LGBT students overcoming challenges? Share your story with us so that we can share it with world. Together, we’ll be inspired to make this school year even better than the last – for everyone.