Straightlaced Goes to the Head of the Class GSA Network’s Study Proves Inclusive Curriculum Makes Schools SaferMonday 18 Mar 2013
By Debra Chasnoff, President/Senior Producer | blog, It's Elementary, Latest News, LGBT, Straightlaced
Many years ago when Helen Cohen and I were producing It’s Elementary—Talking About Gay Issues in School, we came up with a list of all the reasons why it is important for educators to find age-appropriate ways to incorporate respectful discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into K-12 curricula.
We knew it was critical to help those young people who were in the process of coming out or who would some day. It was important for all the children who have LGBT family members to feel like they were included in the school community. It was essential knowledge that today’s students need to function well in our diverse society.
But the bottom line, number one reason was that talking about gay issues and people in school is absolutely essential is creating a safe learning environment.
Now, there is a study that proves that reasoning is true.
The report, “Implementing Lessons That Matter: The Impact of LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum on Student Safety, Well-Being, and Achievement,” is distributed by one of GroundSpark’s longtime partners, the Gay Straight Alliance Network.
“The report clearly shows that LGBTQ-inclusive lessons increase school safety,” says Stephen T. Russell, an author of the report and University of Arizona Professor. “At a time when there is more concern than ever about LGBTQ bullying and safety in schools, this research confirms that students need to see themselves reflected in lessons. When they do, they feel safer and more connected at school – and the school climate is healthier for everyone.”
The research primarily took place in California after the passage of the FAIR Education Act, which updated state education guidelines to end the exclusion of LGBT people and people with disabilities from social studies and history classes.
Despite the many obstacles teachers still face in being able to successfully implement this kind of curricula, the results were impressive.
The research also showed that while any type of LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum in any single subject increases perception of school safety and support for LGBTQ people and issues, a broad approach to implementation across the school institution likely has the greatest impact on school climate.
One of the types of lessons that were evaluated was Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up (another one of our films and its accompanying curriculum).
“LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can substantially improve safety, engagement, learning, academic achievement, self-esteem, and success in school and beyond,” says Hilary Burdge, the research project manager. “Our study points to Straightlaced as an outstanding resource—in fact, the school in our study that yielded the most positive results included Straightlaced as one of its implementation tools.”
We are encouraged as we see the numbers of high schools starting to use Straightlaced continue to grow. And we are heartened to see the message that “teaching about LGBTQ issues is an fundamental to safe school learning environments” is being broadcast once again through this study. Thank you GSA Network. It is elementary.