April Guest Teacher Blog

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Source: Upworthy

Meet Carrie Colpitts a good friend and fierce advocate for LGBTQ youth. Carrie is  a teacher, zine maker, and cat person.

As we work our way through April heading towards the end of the school year, consider thinking about how you can revamp your inclusion and awareness of LBTQ youth in your school.

The Power of Language, Visibility, and Advocacy

-Root your words and actions in kindness.

I use that phrase a lot, it’s always written above the board in my classroom and I say it as a gentle reminder to students.

Much of the work I do in making my classroom a safe space is done the first few days of school. The first minute, the first hour, the first day, the first week…those are extremely important times that set the tone in the classroom for the whole year. The first things on this list of ideas for making a welcoming classroom should be done on the very first days of school. Taking time to do these things will make the school year easier for every kid in your room who might need a little extra reassurance that you are committed to making a safe(r) space for them.

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Wellesley should admit trans students. Now. Here’s why.

monica byrne

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Photo: empty chairs in Houghton Chapel, Wellesley. Reunion 2013. 

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Early one spring morning in my sophomore year at Wellesley, before dawn, I was on the roof of Cazenove dormitory with my friend Ashley. We were continuing a conversation that had begun in the dining hall the previous night. We hadn’t slept.

We were arguing about gender. On this point, she was far more critical of Wellesley than I. She paced the roof, expressing her frustration the limits of our college’s touted “tolerance.”

I didn’t understand. I said, “So…you’re saying any man who gets sex reassignment surgery should also be admitted to Wellesley?”

“No,” she said firmly. “I’m saying anyone who thinks of themselves as a woman should be admitted to Wellesley.”

And with that one sentence, sex and gender unhooked in my mind as neatly as a necklace clasp.

Which is why it’s frustrating to me that, fifteen years later, my…

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(Trans) Parent Support

The resounding message of this blogger is: We want our children to be happy, healthy confident individuals.

Call Him Hunter

Hunters artworkThis is for all you parents out there who are struggling to accept your child’s coming out and desire to transition. As a parent of a transgender teen (FtM), I feel that I am “qualified” to share these words and sentiments.

Do you know…

Parental Support Matters? Only 15% of trans youth without parental support described their mental health as “very good” or excellent, compared to 70% of trans youth with parental support. (source)

Transgender people are more than 25 times more likely than non-transgender people to attempt suicide some time during their life?  (41% vs. 1.6%) (source)

78% of transgender youth in K-12 had experienced harassment? (source)

Recently I asked my son how our support has affected him since he came out to us two years ago. Do you know what he told me? “I feel confident about who I am. I don’t feel ashamed to be me.”

WOW. Isn’t…

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We Need Diverse Books: Can Children’s Authors End Publishing Industry Prejudice — and Change the Way America Reads?

Another great resource to add diverse books to your lessons and classroom library.

Flavorwire

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As young adult novelists Ellen Oh and Lamar Giles sat together on a panel at a Virginia teen literature conference in early 2014, Oh relished the rare experience of sharing the stage with another author of color. She had already been thinking about an initiative to expand diversity in children’s literature, and that day she wondered: “Why can’t it be like this all the time?”

Both Oh and Giles had grown fatigued with the diversity discussion that repeatedly arose in the children’s and YA books (or “kidlit,” as it’s called) community, only to fizzle out again. Debriefing with Giles after the panel, Oh remembers telling him of her plan: “We have to do something, and we have to do something big.” She asked him, “Are you in?”

A few weeks later We Need Diverse Books, the social media movement that has grown into a well-regarded nonprofit in a matter…

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Day 2: JaNay Brown-Wood

If you haven’t already check out thebrownbookshelf.com. They highlight 28 African American authors and books in the month of February. Add some of these to your classroom library!

janaypic Photo by Michelle Wood Photography

As far back as she can remember, JaNay Brown-Wood loved to write. Whether spinning tales about a Tyrannosaurus Rex named Taylor or weaving mysteries that put her in the starring role as Detective JaNay, stories called to her as a child. She filled notebooks with her imaginings and dreamed of seeing her words in print.

Dream turned to destiny when grown-up JaNay won the picture book category of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Children’s Book Award with her lovely manuscript, Imani’s Moon. The prize was a contract with Charlesbridge.  Imani, her endearing main character, appears on the cover with her arms raised to the sky. We can picture JaNay that way too, smile beaming with arms stretched heavenward in triumph.

JaNay, an early childhood education professor, shares on her website that her advice to children is: “Believe.” Here she shares her inspiring path to publication:

“The children are the bright moon.”

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When Your Child’s Boy Friend Becomes Their Girl Friend

A great insight of how gender is a different experience for everyone.

Raising My Rainbow

C.J. met Samuel about three years ago when Samuel was a boy named Samuel. Now, Samuel is a girl named Sophia.

Initially, C.J. and Samuel bonded over being boys who liked to be mermaids in water and princesses on land. They painted their nails together, celebrated birthdays together and put on fashion shows together.

“Samuel is more gender nonconforming than I am,” C.J. would point out to me privately. It was a fact that often caught him by surprise because he rarely met a boy who was more gender nonconforming than he was.

About this time last year, Samuel decided — once and for all — that he was not Samuel, he was Sophia.

I had emotional talks with Samuel’s mom. We’d both always known it was a possibility that our sons were transgender; but, thinking it could be so and having it be so are vastly different. Nothing prepares…

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