The importance of LGBTQ+ inclusive education in schools

Nikki Hatzopoulos, iNews class reporter

From sex ed to understanding parts of the community, and even the constant rate of discrimination, one of the main factors in the loss of inclusivity in school-based curriculum is a lack of diversity. Whether this be through sources used for lessons, lesson plans themselves, and even the population of the school – it all has a huge impact on the students’ comprehension of LGBTQ+ issues, history, and significance in everyday life.

So, this leaves both students, schools, and parents with the underlying realization that LGBTQ+ education has little to no involvement in most classrooms. 

LGBTQ+ Sex Ed in Classrooms

Sex education has always been an undercovered topic in schools, but little to no coverage ever reaches the LGBT community.

 “Why is teaching LGBT sex ed so important?” you may ask. According to an in depth article on the lack of sex education in schools, author Hannah Slater states, “Currently, sex-education standards vary widely across the country, leaving many American youth uninformed about basic anatomy, healthy relationship skills, and safer sex practices.“

With countless students uneducated on the safety precautions of homosexual sex, not only can this serve as a danger to their health, but it can also lead to bullying. Slater states that “This not only prevents LGBT students from learning the information and skills they need to stay healthy, but it also contributes to a climate of exclusion in schools, where LGBT students are already frequent targets of bullying and discrimination.”

Educating all students regardless of sexual orientation always proves to be beneficial. “Leaving out LGBT youth in sex education also implies that they are abnormal or not worthy of inclusion“ Walker adds. The less educated students are on topics like this, the more likely they are to view members of the community as less than heterosexuals- which can only lead to harassment, bullying, and homophobia.

Students at the iSchool: Sex ed

When asked about the sex ed curriculum in the iSchool, students had a lot to say about their experiences and observations. 

When asked about their experience, Junior Hanna Kessler-Karp says that “The sex ed classes at the school have not been LGBTQ+ inclusive in the fact that we simply did not talk about it. We didn’t talk about anything LGBTQ+ related and I think that that’s a big problem because there are a lot of queer kids in our school and everywhere.”

Sophomore Oviya Chhaya agrees. “I wasn’t able to take a sex ed class because of COVID, but from what I’ve heard it’s not very LGBTQ inclusive.”

Hanna adds on by saying that “Lack of education is dangerous when it comes to sex, and it’s really important to be educated especially with making sure you’re having safe and protected sex. That can look different for same sex couples somtimes, making sure queer people know that is super important and they can’t know that if you don’t teach it.”

Parts of the Community, Microlables, and Why They Matter

Several unique identities make up what we know as the LGBTQ+ community. Though more commonly known identities such as gay, lesbian, and bisexual are usually mentioned every now and then, it is unlikely for identities like pansexuality, asexuality, and omnisexuality to be discussed. Following this, romantic orientations are rarely touched upon in the way sexual orientations are. 

In an article on LGBT curriculum in schools, it is said that “LGBTQ students without the support of inclusive curriculum are more likely to face harassment and bullying at school. Research shows having LGBTQ storylines in the classroom affects all students positively, not just those who think they may be LGBTQ.”

The discussion on pronouns, gender identities, and so much more deserves proper recognition and attention in schools. Not only will this educate students, but it will allow members of the community to feel safe and validated while stepping into the classroom.

That same article discusses LGBTQ+ history, writing that ‘“LGBTQ+ history is American history and world history. And it’s time that our education system approaches it as such by making the space and providing the resources needed for teaching the next generation a more inclusive and just version of history.”’

Students at the iSchool: Pronouns

Students at the iSchool were asked about their experiences at the iSchool in terms of feeling respected and validated.

Hanna recalls, “When I first got here I was happily surprised with how respectful everybody was of pronouns. When introducing ourselves we would always say our name and pronouns, some teachers naturally add that into the introduction which is amazing.”

Sophomore Lila Wolff-Metternich agrees by saying that she “believe[s] the teachers at iSchool have created a very safe space for members of the community.”

She adds on by mentioning how “The teachers and most students are really respectful of pronouns! It creates a super safe environment for a lot of students.”

Oviya adds onto the element of pronouns, “I’d say it’s a pretty mixed answer. I think they do try and a lot of my teachers did ask for pronouns, and some do a good job but others don’t really ask. Some students have been misgendered because of this, but there was an apology and the teacher corrected themself.”

When discussing the circumstances of online school, Hanna brings up a wide spread realization. “It was a little more difficult over Zoom, and both I and the GSA sent out an email urging everyone to add their pronouns on Zoom calls. We wanted to normalize that and also make it easier for students and teachers to know how to refer to each other.”

“I know for me and a lot of people, pronouns changed over quarantine. People realized a lot of things about their gender and sexuality.” 

Oviya closes by saying that “For the most part I feel safe and respected walking into the classroom, but then again I’m not completely out to everybody. In general though, I think teachers and staff at iSchool do a good job at making everyone feel comfortable.”

Discrimination and Homophobia

One of the most important things schools can do is discuss the discrimination LGBTQ+ memebers have and continue to face every day. It’s a constant issue, and if one has the privilege of not experiencing what members of the community do on a daily basis then they will never truly understand what goes on behind the scenes. 

A Time article states that “The history of LGBTQ people in the U.S. is as old as the country, but the history of this kind of curriculum is relatively short.” Lack of discussion on the history of the community is clearly such an issue in schools, and there is no reason for it to be brushed aside.

Teaching LGBTQ+ history is so important for both the development and recognition of students who are a part of the community. The same article mentions that ‘“It is hugely important that every child understand the complexity of human history in all different dimensions in order to have a full understanding of the past, present and possible futures, and that’s what this is ultimately about.”’

Students at the iSchool: In class discussions

Students were asked to think back on classes they’ve taken and how inclusive LGBTQ+ issues and discussion were.

Hanna states, “I think the fact that we have a GSA is good, even though it’s the bare minimum. We could definitely improve when it comes to being more LGBTQ+ inclusive in a lot of things.”

She also mentions, “When we have conversations about equity, a lot of marginalized communities get mentioned which is so important, but sometimes the LGBT community is not brought up in these conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as recognized as it should be, but I’ve never felt invalidated.”

Oviya expands by saying, “I think they do an okay job at being LGBT inclusive. I haven’t really taken any classes that centered LGBTQ anything.”

Adding onto the GSA at our school, she agrees with Hanna. “I know the school has a GSA and other clubs like that, and there are a lot of queer youth at our school, but I really don’t think this is something iSchool centers a lot. They focus more on centering race and ethnicity and that sense of diversity.”

When discussing English classes at the iSchool, Hanna states that “we read a lot of pieces by queer authors, and in a lot of Ms. Brown’s classes she includes a lot of her equity conversations which include the LGBTQ+ community.”

She adds on by saying that “In English classes if there’s a gay character, we analyze how their life is being gay and their oppression, or in some classes talking about current events revovling the community- but it really isn’t that touched up on, so we should work on that.”


Now that we’re aware of the lack of LGBTQ+ education in schools and how it has been impacting students and the community as a whole, we are left with an underlying question of: How do we fix it?

Based on how students have responded, we can arrive at common understanding that LGBT sex education is a key factor that needs to be included in order to spark some sort of change. Urging schools to work toward including this as a significant factor in sex ed classes is extremely beneficial in every way.

Although the iSchool does an amazing job at respecting pronouns and identities, like students have said, “we can always be better.” Continuing to normalize pronouns included in introductions creates a safe space for everybody.

Speaking on LGBTQ+ issues during and throughout class time rather than just in club-based discussions will educate students, which is the end goal all schools should strive toward.

At the end of the day, all schools should include LGBTQ+ education in their curriculum in order to build trust, respect, and a safe environment for all students regardless of how they identify.