I am loving love these days and I love a good love story. Here are Michael and Ernst with some warm fuzzies to keep you toasty on an icy cold day. Happy February, a month for celebrating all of the ways that we find love and share love and make family. (Pam Baer)
This week we are featuring an audio clip from Vincent who talks about the importance of allyship in educational settings. Vincent eloquently articulates the importance of listening to students and their needs as a way for teachers can support their students as allies. Vincent argues that teachers who help move the barriers and obstacles that queer and trans students encounter in schools, can ultimately help each student chose their own path on their journey of self-discovery. (Yasmin Owis)
This week, I chose to highlight Ruby and Wendy's clip on family. They discuss the dynamics involved in navigating school as an LGBTQ family. Ruby talks about how she explains her family structure to her peers and about the moments she chooses not to engage in discussions about her alternative family (Edil Ga'al).
In this video, Catherine and Nazbah talk about the idea of “sitting with uncertainty” in teaching and how it’s important to inhabit that space as teachers because it keeps us present in the work of thinking critically about what and how we teach. Nazbah says it’s important for educators to reflect continually reflect on their own positionalities, politics, as well as their strengths and limitations as teachers. Critical reflection invites teachers to consider a range of possibilities for learning—for both students and teachers—and the impacts of teaching methods on students. Nazbah also suggests that critical thinking skills should be taught at all grade levels, and that drawing on community members to teach certain parts of the curriculum would be an excellent way to bring diverse perspectives and stories into classrooms. (Kate Reid)
In this interview Dan talks about the challenges that come with identifying as non-binary, particularly the challenge of using they/them personal pronouns in both English and French. (Tara Goldstein)
This week we’re highlighting one of the videos from our interview with Stella and Jess from the Skinner Family. Stella and Jess talk about wanting schools to have a place for discussions about gender and gender identity. By anticipating having students in your class who are not cisgender, Jess notes that we can be more inclusive of everyone. Jess brings up an excellent point: by focusing less on accommodating our trans and gender non-conforming students, and instead anticipating them in our school environments, we can shift the narrative from accommodation to celebration. Check out the rest of the videos with Stella and Jess here! (Yasmin Owis)
In this video clip, Dale talks about his involvement with his school’s GSA, what they refer to as their Gender Sexuality Alliance. What I find inspiring is that Dale and his GSA peers and friends take the initiative to make their school a more welcoming place by getting involved in the kinds of school clubs that work to meet students’ needs. I like how he says that he didn’t necessarily believe that their school needed a GSA because, presumably, he sees his school as an accepting place. Yet, he makes the point that “you can’t do nothing” in terms of continuing to work to improve school spaces so that all students and staff feel welcome and accepted. Dale talks about the importance of the GSA as a positive space where students can hang out and talk about the issues they are interested in; work at increasing LGBTQ+ visibility; and continue addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ students, by, for example, campaigning for a multi-stall gender-neutral washroom in the school. (Kate Reid)
In this video, Mohan talks about some of the challenges he experienced growing up in the East-end, mostly-white suburbs of Scarborough in the 1970s as the multi-racial child of immigrants in a multi-faith household (+ a school system that did not correspond to either of his parents’ religious backgrounds). When asked about his hopes for his young children as they move through the public school system today, Mohan explains:
“…I don’t mind them being treated differently.
I don’t want them to be treated unkindly…”
(benjamin lee hicks)
Today I want to feature a video clip from Nicole Tanguay and Mita Hans’ interview. In the clip, Nicole talks about an Indigenous dance her daughter’s class was doing at school. The dance was supposed to be a circle dance or a round dance but “it was awful how it turned out because … [the kids] were being pretty, like, racist … doing the war dance thing [they’d seen on television].”
In response to Nicole’s story, Mita Hans says, “And this is where you hope that the teacher would have stepped in and said, ‘Well, actually this is how people do what they do and it’s not appropriate for everybody to do what they do and sometimes it’s really inappropriate when somebody who’s not from that culture does that.’”
Recently, I listened to an episode of a podcast called Code Switch which speaks to Mita’s expectations of the teacher who was responsible for bringing the round dance into the classroom. The episode was called “Ask Code Switch: School Daze”. A white teacher asked Code Switch whether or not she should be teaching her black students a South African dance called the Gum Boot dance. The answers to her question pick up on Mita’s concern about who should teach the round dance. To listen to “School Daze” on Code Switch follow the link below. (Tara Goldstein)
This week I want to introduce you to Michael and Ernst. In this clip they talk about the conundrum that many LGBTQ families face which is Mother's Day and Father's Day at school. I find this clip really interesting because it addresses the heteronormative assumptions that are often made about queer and trans families. In this case it is the assumption that the kids don't have mothers because families have two parents and in this case those two parents are Michael and Ernst. I am sharing it today because I want to continue to expand and reimagine the definition of family to include a multitude of relationships and identities. Advice to teachers would be: get to know the students in your class, ask them who they want to celebrate on these hallmark occasions, and try not to make assumptions.
One approach that I think really works is highlighted in a bonus clip of Jess and Evan below. Their school sent out a simple message to parents saying who identifies as a mother in your family? No assumptions made and not one student or family was singled out. Win Win. :) (Pam Baer)