Three Ways to Support an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Classroom

Ensuring all students are accepted and proud of who they are is important to the growth and development of children. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ rights are still controversial in many areas of the country. It is much easier to ignore these issues than to face the controversy and address them. But the fact of the matter is, for change to happen, for the suicide rates of LGBTQ+ children to decrease and for acceptance to improve, educators must be intentional in providing a safe and inclusive classroom. Here are three ways teachers can work toward a more LGBTQ+ inclusive classroom.

1. Support Open Dialogue:

Allow a safe space for open dialogue. Allow students to have conversations about family structures, bullying, and acceptance. Allow students to ask questions, even if you do not have all of the answers. Having open dialogues, especially about how to handle issues of discrimination and bullying, helps all students think more critically about how they see and treat each other. This can help create a safe learning and social environment for all students, which can help you foster an LGBTQ+ inclusive classroom.

2. Incorporate LGBTQ+ History:

LGBTQ+ history should not be omitted from curriculums. Important historical figures who are LGBTQ+ should be incorporated into studies. Key events in LGBTQ+ history that mark the advancement of rights should also be part of our history studies.

If you are looking for a resource on LGBTQ+ history and change makers, check out my Virtual Field Trip to the Pride Parade. This resource is designed for 2nd – 5th grade.

Tablet showing an image of a woman holding an LGBTQ+ inclusive book with text that says The Pride Flag and colorful hearts under it.

If you teach Kindergarten – 1st grade, I also created a virtual field trip resource about family structures to help facilitate discussion and understanding with students in primary grades.

3. Incorporate Inclusive Literature:

Our classroom libraries should incorporate a variety of literature that shows many different types of family structures and types of people. Children should have the opportunity to see themselves, their families, and others that are not like them.

Here are my favorite picture books that incorporate diverse family structures and LGBTQ+ stories. These books will support your LGBTQ+ inclusive classroom.

Books About LGBTQ+ Families

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

“Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day celebration, but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy, who take care of her, and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel special and supported every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in this sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.”

In Our Mother’s House by Patricia Polacco

“Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them. They say they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. And they teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. And no matter how many moms or dads they have, they are everything a family is meant to be.”

Books About Gender Norms

Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman

“Pink is for boys . . . and girls . . . and everyone! This timely and beautiful picture book rethinks and reframes the stereotypical blue/pink gender binary and empowers kids-and their grown-ups-to express themselves in every color of the rainbow. Featuring a diverse group of relatable characters, Pink Is for Boys invites and encourages girls and boys to enjoy what they love to do, whether it’s racing cars and playing baseball, or loving unicorns and dressing up.”

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley is the story of Mary Edwards Walker

“Once upon a time (but not that long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had an idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! This bold, original picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.”

Teddy’s Favorite Toy by Christian Trimmer

“Teddy has a lot of cool toys. But his very favorite doll has the best manners, the sickest fighting skills, and a fierce sense of style. Then one morning, something truly awful happens. And there’s only one woman fierce enough to save the day. Can Teddy’s mom reunite Teddy with his favorite toy?”

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

“While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.”

Books About Pride

Be Amazing: A History of Pride by Desmond is Amazing

“Desmond is amazing―and you are, too.

Throughout history, courageous people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and RuPaul have paved the way for a safer, more inclusive society for LGBTQ individuals, and it’s thanks to them that people just like Desmond can be free to be who they really are.”

This Day in June by Gaylee E. Pitman

This picture book shows the excitement and pride associated with attending a Pride parade.

Love is Love by Michael Genhart

It’s love that makes a family.

When a boy confides in his friend about bullies saying he doesn’t have a real family, he discovers that his friend’s parents―a mom and a dad―and his two dads are actually very much alike.”

Books About LGBTQ+ History and People

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders

“In this deeply moving and empowering true story, young readers will trace the life of the Gay Pride Flag, from its beginnings in 1978 with social activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker to its spanning of the globe and its role in today’s world. Award-winning author Rob Sanders’s stirring text, and acclaimed illustrator Steven Salerno’s evocative images, combine to tell this remarkable – and undertold – story. A story of love, hope, equality, and pride.”

I am Billie Jean King by Brad Melzer

“This [book] features Billie Jean King, the world champion tennis player who fought successfully for women’s rights. From a young age, Billie Jean King loved sports—especially tennis! But as she got older, she realized that plenty of people, even respected male athletes, didn’t take women athletes seriously. She set [out] to prove them wrong and show girls everywhere that sports are for everyone, regardless of gender.”

Incorporating LGBTQ+ Resources in Your Classroom

Ensuring all students are accepted and proud of who they are is important to the growth and development of children. There are so many ways to share different perspectives with students, and I believe we owe it to our students to promote inclusion, understanding, and diversity in everything we do. Teachers should strive to have an inclusive classroom that includes LGBTQ+ perspectives. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ rights are still controversial in many areas of the country. Please review all material and consider whether you have the support of your school and families before using these resources in your classroom.

For more information about teaching Pride in the classroom, you can check out my blog post that covers strategies for incorporating inclusion for different grades and ages.

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