How to Improve Visibility
How to Improve Visibility
Schools and teachers need to be taking action in all of the other areas described in this guide alongside action to increase visibility. The reason for this is that increasing visibility is an important piece of the inclusion effort, but it should not be tokenism (*tokenism is the practice of making a symbolic action or effort that gives the appearance of equality, but does not include deeper practice of actions to ensure equality. An example would be hiring one trans person in order to appear diverse, while not making any changes to practices or policies to ensure inclusion and gender equality.) If a school is increasing visibility and representation of transgender, non-binary and gender exploring people and experiences, then the school also has to have in place, policy, inclusive facilities and resources for transgender, non-binary and gender exploring students.
Here are some ways that we have seen schools in Wales effectively improving visibility of transgender, non-binary and gender exploring people in order to better support students:
- Creating LGBTQI+ student groups where students have a safe space to be themselves. These groups can give feedback to the school about inclusion of LGBTQI+ students, in particular transgender, non-binary and gender exploring students. Example: One of the schools who participated in the creation of this guide has a student group called Skittles who meet regularly and have a supervising teacher who helps plan activities.
- Teachers and staff can show support for transgender, non-binary and gender exploring students in different ways, one of them is visible signalling of support. This can be done in ways such as:
- Lanyards that are in LGBTQI+ pride, transgender pride or other pride colours.
- Wearing pins with pride flags or your pronouns on them.
- Teachers putting stickers or signs on their doors or in their classrooms to show support for transgender, non-binary or gender exploring students.
- Posters across the school that show transgender and non-binary pride or represent LGBTQI+ people. These should be throughout the school, not limited to one hallway or classroom.
- Teachers and staff can also improve visibility by amending curricula and lessons to include examples and stories that represent transgender, non-binary and gender exploring people. For example: math problems that include a character who is non-binary, reading books with transgender characters, history assignments that include gender diverse and LGBTQI+ historical figures and events, etc.
- Supporting teachers who themselves identify as transgender, non-binary or gender exploring to feel comfortable to be out to students and the school community if they choose to be.
- Making Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) inclusive is also VERY important to making transgender, non-binary and gender exploring experiences visible. If RSE is not inclusive of the experiences of LGBTQI+ and diverse genders then students will not ask important questions about safety and leading full and healthy lives.
Stonewall has a guide for making RSE inclusive that can be found here: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/resources/lgbtq-inclusive-rshe-putting-it-practice-guide
- Celebrating the transgender, non-binary and gender exploring, as well as the wider LGBTQI+ community is another great way to improve visibility in schools. Although this can be done throughout the year on a daily basis, as suggested by the previous points, Pride month, which is June every year, is a good time to do even more to make transgender, non-binary and gender exploring youth feel represented and celebrated. Pride events at school or special lesson topics about prominent transgender or non-binary people are ideas that can raise visibility during pride month.
Example: One of the schools who is participating in the creation of this guide hosts a pride event for students in June which is a celebration where students can dance and be themselves. This was mentioned by students and staff at the school as a joyous and powerful event and they hope that it will continue.
Example: Students at some of the schools have mentioned that they do not know if there are any LGBTQI+ teachers or staff at their schools, and they have no way of knowing which teachers will be open and supportive of them. At one school, the wellbeing lead has pride flags in her office and in the hallway around her office, which signals to the students that she is a safe person to talk to.