Cultivating belonging for LGBTQ+ individuals is a cornerstone of safeguarding, human rights, global citizenship, and inclusion. Doing this in an understanding and inclusive environment can still be complex. In diverse cultural and legal environments, so much more so.
It's our goal at CIS to strengthen LGBTQ+ advocacy through community collaboration and a wealth of professional guidance and expertise from subject-matter experts and CIS school voices.
We asked Cath Brew, Lindz Amer and Shaun Delenty, our keynote speakers at our upcoming workshop on 27–28 March—Cultivating inclusion for diverse genders & sexualities—about the key challenges educators face with this work.
Cath Brew (she, her) is an artist who illustrates and educates about LGBTQ+ experiences for positive change—focusing on identity, belonging and expat life. She works with schools on whole-school LGBTQ+ inclusion, helping teachers, students, and parents move into active allyship and empowering LGBTQ+ students to be proud.
I consider the key challenge for educators in cultivating inclusion for diverse genders and sexualities is their own knowledge and confidence. I meet many people who are passionate LGBTQ+ inclusion allies at heart but don’t know how to be or who to ask. They find themselves worrying about accidentally offending people or doing or saying the wrong thing. This uncertainty eats away at their confidence, and they find themselves feeling unsure about how to lead in LGBTQ+ inclusion and especially how to deal with issues in conflict.
Dr Shaun Dellenty B’eEd, NPQH, (he/him) is a multi-award-winning educator/advocate for LGBT+ inclusion in education, widely reported as the first UK gay primary school leader to publicly ‘come out’ in the international press in 2009. Shaun wrote the acclaimed Bloomsbury book ‘Celebrating Difference—A Whole School Approach to LGBT+ Inclusion.’
The key challenges I see right now are:
- Fear of reprisal or pushback, whether this comes from parents, leadership, media or other political or faith-related organisations.
- A lack of subject knowledge leads to anxiety about terminology/making mistakes.
- In the UK, a lack of clear and consistent government guidance around trans inclusion.
Lindz Amer creates LGBTQ+ and intersectional social justice media for kids and families. They created their beloved LGBTQ+ family web series Queer Kid Stuff in 2016, which now has 4M lifetime views and counting! Their debut book 'Rainbow Parenting: Your Guide to Raising Queer Kid and Their Allies' will publish this May.
I think the challenge is two-fold. First, in thinking about the lack of resources and support systems for LGBTQ+ educators, administrators, and students, and hand in hand, the lack of awareness and education for educators, administrators, and students outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Information on LGBTQ+ topics that centers queer and trans joy, innovation, and timelessness is simply not as internationally widespread as it needs to be to properly nurture allies and support community members.
How can an LGBTQ+ educator, administrator, or student take pride in their authenticity when they aren't in an openly accepting environment where their pronouns aren't respected or they're worried about discrimination and bullying? And how can accepting peers hope to become true allies when they don't have access to LGBTQ+ history or don't understand how to practically use they/them pronouns?
What will workshop participants be able to put into action as a result of your keynote?
Shaun: The importance of values-based leadership in formulating a whole school approach to LGBT+ inclusion. Aspiring for better, moving beyond tokenism.
Lindz: Participants will have a clear understanding of the stakes at play and why education on gender and sexuality, particularly in early childhood, is not only important but urgent with the still horrific rates of suicide, houselessness, and mental health on LGBTQ+ youth. They'll also come away with practical tools for making their classrooms more LGBTQ+ inclusive, including simple, approachable, and kid-friendly definitions of seemingly complex topics like queerness, gender, and sexuality that they can use with their students.
Cath: As a result of my keynote, participants will be able to ‘see through queer eyes’, enabling them to embody inclusion in ways they haven’t before. It will help them to apply inclusion according to the differing contexts in which they find themselves.
Hear more from Cath, Shaun and Lindz on 27–28 March
Our members are invited to register for this workshop and join their keynotes: Inclusion via Diversity, Equity, & Anti-racism Deep Dive Workshop: Cultivating inclusion for diverse genders & sexualities
Members can also log into the CIS Community portal> KnowledgeBase > Inclusion via diversity, equity, & anti-racism (I-DEA) to explore more resources to guide safeguarding and inclusion work for LGBTQ+ students. Whether you're looking for bite-size learning (a 6-minute blog), a more in-depth briefing (15 minutes), an on-demand webinar (1 hour), or dive deeper in the workshop above (2 days on 27–28 March), we have resources to help you develop your understanding and support for the safeguarding and inclusion of LGBTQ+ students in your school.
Available to everyone on the blog: How international schools can safeguard LGBTQ+ students & faculty | Recognizing & addressing identity-based harm in schools | Child protection challenges in an evolving world
- Diversity (I-DEA)
- Student well-being