How to Build an Affirming Classroom in the Face of Anti-Trans Legislation

Posted by Julie Halterman on April 19, 2022

iStock-847839366During the 2021-2022 school year, legislation has been enacted across the country that targets transgender people, and as educators, we at Facing History are particularly concerned about the impact this legislation has on the lives of transgender students. We believe deeply in affirming the identity of all students and creating classrooms that are inclusive, welcoming, and foster belonging. While we are quickly approaching the end of the school year, it is never too late in the year to build community, offer students opportunities to express themselves, and ask students to share feedback with you on their experience in your classroom. The following resources can help you continue to build an affirming, welcoming class community for your students, especially trans and non-binary students, as the school year ends and to plan ahead for the next school year.

Supporting Trans Students in Your Classroom 

Toolkit for "Being There for Nonbinary Youth" (From Learning for Justice)

This toolkit invites you to read Being There for Nonbinary Youth and then to reflect on practices that you can implement, beginning this year, to support transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in your own school and classroom.

Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools (From the Human Rights Campaign)

This guide can help you learn about the concept of gender, and it includes school policies and practices that both teachers and administrators can implement to support transgender students. In addition, it offers guidance on how you can navigate conversations with parents and different legal landscapes.

Trans Action Kit (From GLSEN)

This collection compiles a variety of resources that can help both teachers and students, including lesson plans, teacher guides, personal narratives, and student resources. 

Reflect:

  • How did your own education help to affirm your identity and life experiences? How did it provide you with opportunities to engage with life experiences different from your own? Where did it fall short in these two respects? 
  • What opportunities do you have to include the voices or experiences of trans people in your curriculum?

 

Building Community in Your Classroom 

How Can You Close the School Year? (From Facing History and Ourselves)

This Teaching Idea contains six activities that can help students share their reflections on the past school year, celebrate their school community, and look ahead to what comes next. Each activity can be used on its own, so you can choose any combination that will work well for your class.

Student Journaling During Coronavirus (From Facing History and Ourselves)

Journaling can provide students with a safe, accessible space to share their thoughts, feelings, and uncertainties. This resource is designed to help both teachers who are setting up student journals for the first time as well as those who have already established practices around journaling in their classrooms. It contains journal prompts you can use with your students, which guide them to reflect on their own identities, experiences, and communities.

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter?  (From Facing History and Ourselves)

We may be able to share our views easily with those who agree with us, but how do we express our opinion while leaving room for someone else’s viewpoint? How can we seek out or listen to those who hold different beliefs from our own? The ideas and tools in this guide are designed to help you prepare your students to engage in conversations that are emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, and relevant to their own lives. 

Back-to-School Toolkit  (From Facing History and Ourselves)

As you look ahead to next school year, you can use this one-week unit to help plan your teaching in the opening days of the school year and to develop students' social-emotional skills in order to engage in an open and supportive classroom community. These first class periods are important to establish classroom norms and an inclusive environment where students honor and value differing perspectives, question assumptions, and actively listen to others. While the final activity is specific to US-history courses, the first four lessons can be used in any classroom.

Reflect:

  • This school year, when have you observed students to be most motivated in your classroom?
  • How might your students’ identities and life experiences have shaped their encounter with the materials you taught this year?
  • What can you plan to do at the start of next school year to build community in your classroom? 

 

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Facing History and Ourselves invites educators to take a deeper dive into this issue by reading our blog Anti-Trans Legislation: How We Got Here and Why it Matters.


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Topics: LGBTQ, transgender

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.

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