OutBuro Voices Interview Kryss Shane - The Educator's Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion LGBT Entrepreneur GLBT Professional Lesbian Author Business Owner Consultant

Kryss Shane – The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion

An interesting conversation with Kryss Shane the author of “The Educator’s Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion,” the first book of its kind to guide educators, administrators, and school staff to become able and empowered to make their schools more LGBT+ inclusive.

Kryss on OutBüro

OutBuro Voices Interview Kryss Shane - The Educator's Guide to LGBT+ Inclusion LGBT Entrepreneur GLBT Professional Lesbian Author Business Owner Consultant bookcover

Named by The New York Times and many national and international platforms as America’s go-to Leading LGBT Expert, Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW (she/her) has 25+ years of experience guiding the world’s top leaders in business, education, and community via individual, small group, and full-staff training. She is known for making each organization’s specific Diversity and Inclusion needs become more manageable, approachable, and actionable. This includes physical spaces, hiring practices, policies/procedures, and more. Kryss has two Master’s degrees, two licenses to practice mental healthcare, and she is currently working toward her PhD while shaping the minds of learners as a Lecturer at Columbia University and an Adjunct Professor at Brandman University.

Kristen Marie (Kryss) Shane, BS, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW (she/her) earned her Bachelors of Science at The Ohio State University in Human Development and Family Sciences. She has earned her first Master’s degree at Barry University in Social Work where she focused on the LGBT community. She has earned a second Master’s degree at Western Governors University in Education, Curriculum & Instruction for students K-12, as well as at undergraduate, and graduate levels. She also completed Columbia University School of Social Work’s Institute on Pedagogy and Technology for Online Courses. Kryss also holds social work licenses in the states of Ohio and New York, as well as numerous certifications. She is currently attending the University of the Cumberlands working on her PhD in Educational Leadership, where her dissertation work will focus on the needs and best practices of LGBT+ inclusion.

Kryss’ professional social work foci are in the areas of: Sexual and Gender Minorities; LGBT Training and Education; Social Activism; Animal-Assisted Therapy with Youth, Adolescent, and Adult Counseling; Couples Counseling; Family Counseling; Group Counseling; Crisis Intervention and Resolution; Local, State, National, and International Activism work

Currently, Kryss is a Teaching Associate at Columbia University and Brandman University, she is a Curriculum and Instruction writer for a variety of companies and schools, and she is a consultant and speaker on numerous topics in the LGBT+ field.  Her work spans grades K-12 and undergraduate and graduate levels.  Her work covers state and federally mandated subjects and topic areas, as well as elective coursework.  She has additional training in curriculum creation and review for students with individualized needs, ranging from learning disorders and mental/physical deficits to those qualifying for gifted programs.  Kryss is especially well-known for creating lesson plans that consider minority experiences and for finding ways to relate required topic areas to students’ personal interactions with the world at any grade and ability level.

Conversation Transcript

The below was created through voice to text recognition. We will strive to edit for accuracy as time permits. It may not be perfect. It is being provided for the hearing impaired to still enjoy the interview. Currently full interview not resent.

Unknown Speaker 6:49
So true, right. I’ve not quite heard that. But But yeah, I can totally, totally, you know, relate in some of my writings and that I do is I I purposely purpose Li use the language of learned biases, learn prejudice, isms learned religion, and how those are affect people, you know, in the workplace. And, yeah, we didn’t know it was born into this world. racist or homophobic, right? It was all learned.

Unknown Speaker 7:26
Well, and let’s be clear also that most of that is not somebody intentionally teaching youth wrong information. It typically happens that they’re teaching the beliefs that they have. Some of that is through our words in our language on purpose. But most of what we learn, especially as kids come from what we see around us, and we know that back in weight, you know, way back when that the filmstrips being shown in school would explain you have to be afraid of the homosexual man because he will Come, you know, steal your children and do horrible things to them. When that’s what you grew up learning, it makes absolute sense that you’re afraid of gay people. And you would teach your children to avoid gay people. It makes absolute sense. And that’s, that’s someone’s attempt at being a good parent, right? We want to keep our kids safe. And when we’re told that somebody is unsafe, we want to keep our kids away. But what it results as then is people in leadership roles today, who still have those understandings of what it means to be a gay person. So it makes sense then that the way that they treat a gay employee or the idea of having a gay employee isn’t very positive, right? So it’s not just saying, Let me explain to you what the word gay means. And let me introduce you to my gay friend, and let me put a TV show on that has gay themes. It’s really looking at way back in your life. What were you taught about a population of people and let’s break that down into sort of Peel the layers apart and look at that information compared to what our research shows and what life experiences can show. And it’s a long process for some. And I think that that’s okay. I mean, I love the idea of the magic moment on television where the pretty tinkling music plays underneath and someone has that brilliant light bulb because you said one right sentence. Everybody you know, everybody comes together to was going to say sing Kumbaya, but I guess maybe sing Madonna or Gaga. I must really be missing pride parades, because that’s where my brain is today. Right like for a lot of people on learning something you were taught any something is a process. Yeah, because a lot of it becomes it’s ingrained in our in our fibers. And it’s not. We see so much of the thought on TV and film of homophobia and transphobia. is tied to horrible people. do horrible things and everything about them is bad. And everything they do is very overt and very violent. And there are some of those people. Right, we’re seeing that in situations right now of civil unrest. There are white supremacist groups that are coming out with hate messages and doing hateful things. Those people exist. Most of the problems we have, though, are those implicit biases. The ones we don’t know we have to somebody else points them out. Hmm. And those are tough, because nobody’s screwing up on purpose. Right? Right. And it’s, it’s hard to be told by somebody else, no matter how lovingly they tell you, the way you’re doing something is wrong, and it’s hurtful. Mm hmm. And it’s, it’s an effort somebody has to make to tell you. And it’s hard to say when someone says that it’s hard to say thank you so much for letting me know. Because it’s natural to be defensive and in either to say, you know, what I meant was, or you should know me better than that. Or Well, that’s how I grew up.

Unknown Speaker 10:59
Right? All of those could be true.

Unknown Speaker 11:03
But it also means that that person has some work to do. And I think we’re learning now, more maybe than ever, as we’re in a month of racial civil unrest at a time where we are honoring the month of pride, and the Stonewall riots, and all of the moments that led up to them all over the country and all over the world, and everybody’s coming together. There’s some work we all need to be doing on some group of people or another.

Unknown Speaker 11:28
True and I’d like you know, it kind of echo that is, you know, everyone has those kind of things that they they have from their past. I mean, even if you’re, you know, LGBT, they’re, you know, you might not fully realize it, or maybe you do and you try to you know, squelch it as much as possible but, you know, there’s a lot of, you know, communication blunders and and everything else, even within our own community with each other. Absolutely. And and then having, you know, people who are outside of the community, heterosexual and so forth, trying to also understand the language and the nuances and everything else. And you know, like for, you know, I’ll just be honest, for example, you know, the, the pronouns of, you know, I still personally find it very, it takes me a while to, you know, if someone wants to be referred to as de and they’re, wow, okay, well, that’s a plural sense of a person. And that’s a little difficult for me to personally just to get used to. And, you know, I have had conversations with you know, transgender people in the past, and some have been very and you know, sometimes when they’re, you know, for example, male or female, and that’s very obvious was a little easier to stay in. The pronoun you know, proper pronoun for them because, you know, visually they’re visually attempting to represent. But interestingly, I have a friend of mine who is. Well, I have to one actually just, she was one of the first shows, she she goes both as male and female, she considers herself, you know, dual spirit to spirit. And one of my friends here in the Fort Lauderdale area. We’re both tech. She’s also very much into technology, but it’s kind of like he’s very key and hence when you say he, and then he kind of He’s like, Look, you know, it’s difficult because I show up is my male form and I show up as my female form. And I realized that can be a little confusing for others. So know that you know, I won’t get offended but just so if I’m dressed as a male and you refer to me as she no issue, but if I’m dressed as a female And you refer to me as he, you know, or him, no issue, but that’s, you know, the way his life is. And so I could imagine also for, you know, straight people who are who are even further away from the community, you know how difficult that is, and they might make mistakes, and not even realize it.

Unknown Speaker 14:20
Absolutely. And to unpack that a little bit more so. So, being straight, sort of as a comparison to transgender are sort of two different categories because sexuality is one which would be straight or not straight with other categories underneath, right, and, and gender identity is is a separate category. Sure. And so, there are plenty of cisgender people, which is the word that means the opposite of trans. That struggle, and there are some trans people that probably do too. And I always see pronouns as the same as a person’s name. Nobody expects you to know somebody’s name before you meet them. If you see someone across the room and they’re not wearing a name tag, you’re not expected to know what that stranger’s name is. But when you meet them, and they tell you what their name is, call them by their name. Mm hm. And it’s truly it’s truly that simple because it would be and, and also, it’s quite bizarre if you introduced yourself to me and I said, you know, you actually look more like a Michael. So, I’m going to call you Michael now. Every single person in the room that would overhear our conversation would look at me like I was cuckoo banana pants, right? Because nobody says that to another human. But for some reason, we often have this understanding or belief that when somebody says, I use he him pronouns, that we can say, either actually out loud or in our own head. Will you look more like a woman to me so I’m going to stick with she her pronouns. Like that’s, that’s equally not a choice. And the more that we are learning these and the more that we test them out and try out, how does it feel out of our own mouths to say like, my name is Chris, I use she her pronouns, as the introduction comes just as easily, it takes just as much time. I mean, unless you’ve got a stopwatch, maybe there’s an extra seconds there. It’s just saying, Hi, my name is Chris. Same thing. Mm hmm. And it’s looking at once we have that piece of information, and as we look at how do we create a generation of people we don’t have to unteach and then reteach. It led me to look at school curricula, recognizing most of our textbooks come from the same few companies. They’re disseminated to the entire country. And so the kids are learning the same thing. And in some ways, that’s great, right? Like we want colleges want all the students to show up. Understanding that two plus two equals the same number no matter where you went. to school. And we need society to have some baseline of generalized agreed upon knowledge. It can’t be that if you went to school in Indiana, two plus two is three. But if you went to school in Florida, it’s seven. That just doesn’t work. So then we look at those textbooks. And what we see in most textbooks, especially in the, you know, looking at K through 12, kindergarten through 12th grade, as opposed to college, is that most of what we see in these books show us that everything good in America was created by white men, straight cisgender white men, right? Right, we get one white woman who served us our American flag. And in the month of February, there’s a section on martin luther king. Sometimes the updated books will talk something about Oprah contributing through the media to our society. But most of the time, that’s that’s pretty much it. So it’s no wonder that we have this The generation after generation of children who grow up with this belief that if you’re white male, you can do great things. And if you are not white male, you could probably do some okay stuff, but also help out the white men. Because they’re doing great things. Right? It’s, it’s hard to see otherwise. And it’s also when your face is not a white male face. And your identity is not a white male identity. How could you possibly contribute at the same level? And we’re learning that and we’re teaching that to generations of children. So it’s really no wonder that they become generations of adults who have that fundamental belief and who minimize others because they’re taught that only one group of people really contributes

Unknown Speaker 18:46
Ray and the the expectations children and teens and young adults, whether explicitly said or indirectly said they really do get a sense Have the level of expectations by by the adults around them, their their educators, their you know, if they will just call them, their mentors, their, their parents, their everyone around them sets a level of expectations. And when those expectations are not clear that you know, you are, yes, an African American young person. And I expect as a teacher, you know, this level of output, it’s like

Unknown Speaker 19:42
they’re receiving the messages that

Unknown Speaker 19:47
that they aren’t going to go anywhere. So what I’m saying is that it’s reinforcing what you’re saying and saying, well, you’re not going to be contributing or you’re not as good as and therefore, then they also don’t strive to be The vast majority, and I mean, they meaning any and every anyone who’s not treated that way. I mean, that could even be from, you know, like my, my ex had a alcoholic abusive father and constantly told him he wasn’t going to amount to anything. And so he struggled with that internal identity of I’m not going to amount to anything for a very long time.

Unknown Speaker 20:27
Absolutely. And, and we saw it a lot, especially in in the earlier democratic debates of it conversations of well, you know, Andrew Yang, who’s really in favor of math, because you know, I mean, of course, he’s he’s Asian, and Kamala Harris,

Unknown Speaker 20:42
who is a really eloquent speaker for a black person.

Unknown Speaker 20:46
And these moments of people thought they were being complimentary. They met well, and didn’t even realize that what they were saying, we’re each levels of racism and that racism exists. Even when you think you’re saying apart positive thing, even when you say, you know, I need an accountant to help me with my math, so I’m going to try and find the best asian guy I can. Some people’s argument is like, but I’m saying a nice thing. I’m not saying something mean, right? Still not okay. And we have people in our society who will still say when they’re wanting to negotiate a price Well, I’m gonna do it up.

Unknown Speaker 21:21
I right. I yeah, we

Unknown Speaker 21:24
have that. So you’ve heard something like that Not too long ago, right?

Unknown Speaker 21:27
We we still have in our vocabulary conversations about when people feel like they’ve been ripped off. They say they’ve been gypped and that comes from the Gypsy population who are Romanian people. It’s all these nuances in our language that exist, and we don’t always know what they are. And when I actually get

Unknown Speaker 21:47
know that that’s where that that’s where that comes from, from interest. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 21:50
And so, we perpetuate these beliefs in our language and we perpetuate them in our action and Some of them are obvious and other ones. Sometimes you don’t know where a language comes from where phrase comes from. But we also look at what does that mean in our school system? And, you know, even basic things like when you’re going to have students line up for the bathroom. And you have the boys to the left and the girls to the right. Which most schools especially early on in elementary school, when the kids can’t go on, attended one at a time to a restroom down the hall, and in a class trip to the bathroom. They split off that way, right? Well, what happens to the transgender kid or what happens to the non binary kid? Most of the time, teachers see that as either that’s a kid in the wrong line, who’s probably behind because if they don’t understand the concept of what line they should get in, we should probably have somebody Look at that. They probably need some testing. They might be a little bit behind. Or it’s a kid that’s goofing off that isn’t listening to directions and keeps getting in the wrong line. Right. And so when we see that, and when a person who’s a teacher is a grown up, and grown ups are people of authority, and also grown ups are people who grade your schoolwork. So you want them to like you and they want to feel like they’re grading you accurately. It becomes this internalized situation of every time I do something that’s authentic to my identity. I get in trouble. Hmm. So kids stop. I’ve yet to meet a transgender person. And I’ve been doing this work 25 years, I’ve yet to meet a transgender person who was shocked by their transgender identity that just showed up in adulthood.

Unknown Speaker 23:39
But sure,

Unknown Speaker 23:40
right, like it’s it’s not a thing that happened. Instead, there’s this consistent storyline of I was two years old, or three or five or six. I knew this for sure. But people in my life didn’t make it. Okay. So I stopped and now I spent a lot of years trying to convince myself This wasn’t true about me. Right? And it’s, it happens a lot also, for gay people have. I was told this wasn’t okay. Or my household understanding or my school’s understanding was that nobody good people aren’t like this. Mm hmm. And I really wanted to be a good person. So I did all these things. I dated people of the gender I wasn’t attracted to where I got married, or I thought maybe having children would make me not gay or not trans or all of these things I did and, and, of course, that’s horrible. And of course, in hindsight, it’s like, oh, you, you know, we want to say like, Oh, you poor thing. Because it’s awful when when a person standing in front of us and we see their face, and we know their heart tells us that story. But what are we doing so we stop creating the next round of those kids who grow up to be those adults with those stories? Right and it leaves To a need for me to re examine those school textbooks, and need them to want to rewrite a lot of them not to take out the impact of straight white people. Right? They’re, they’re great straight white people. They’re also great people who are not straight and great people who are not white. And all of these people have contributed to the best parts of our society. Mm hmm. So looking at when this needs to happen, how do we make it happen? And in reality, our teachers are completely overworked and beyond the level of underpaid. I think we’re seeing that more with the pandemic and every parent trying to teach their child you know, advanced algebra, or long division. Right, right. Like that’s just teaching one kid. It’s not easy to teach one. How anybody teaches an entire classroom full of kids. It’s some level of magic that most of us don’t have. But looking at, we see this as a problem. And most teachers are aware that this is a problem. But you can’t leave it to teachers to make these changes first, because the textbooks they have, they don’t get to choose. So even when they know this one’s not great, they still have to work with it. Second, because the teaching materials that either come with it or that they’ve created over the years, take an ungodly number of hours to create and perfect, right. So it’s not realistic to say, let me point out a problem and then leave you with it to add more to your own overflowing plate. So it led to this creation of the book that I have without called the educators guide to LGBT plus inclusion. And it allows for educators if they know absolutely nothing about LGBT plus people, if there’s no knowledge whatsoever, or if there’s lots of knowledge and they’re just not sure what Do or there’s lots of knowledge, they have ideas, but how do you implement them? All those sorts of different groups of people. This book provides updated foundational knowledge. So that nobody has to come in already knowing things. And no one has to be an expert to pick up the book. I think that ends up being really tricky about a lot of learning material is that it’s either dumbed down, so you feel like you’re reading, you know, life for Dummies. And nobody wants to feel dumb, or it’s written at such a level that if you’re not already an expert, it doesn’t work for you. And if you’re already an expert, you probably don’t need to read the book anyway. Okay. Right. So this was written. For those who already know they can skim for example, the terminology section, and just make sure that the words they use are updated. And for those that don’t have any foundation yet, they can start at page one, and they don’t need to learn from anywhere else to get that foundation. piece. And it, it covers things like, for a long time when we talked about transgender people, we said, for example, male to female transgender, because our understanding was they were once male, and then they became female. Right? And that makes sense based on the understanding that we had they this person, like, used to be a boy when they were a kid, now they’re a girl, okay? Or they were they transitioned in adulthood, so they used to be a man and now they’re a woman. What we’ve learned since then, is that gender is really a social construct.

Unknown Speaker 28:34
True,

Unknown Speaker 28:35
right? So our understanding of gender has been tied to external genitalia, since you know forever and ever, right, right. So a person gets assigned a gender based on that genitalia. The baby comes out and the doctor looks between their legs and then says it’s a boy or it’s a girl because of that piece of anatomy But we know that anatomy doesn’t actually always determine somebody’s gender identity. We know that because when we look at and this is not new, when when a woman, for example has to have a mastectomy because she has breast cancer. We know that doesn’t make her less of a woman. Right? Sure, right. And we know that if if our mom or our grandma or sister said, I have to have my breasts removed, and what if I’m not a woman anymore? What if I’m not attractive anymore? What if I’m not sexy anymore? We’ve all long believed and known to be able to say, well, that’s not true. Those are that’s a part of your body, but it doesn’t define who you are. Right now that we know that if somebody was in a car accident, and their penis got amputated, they don’t stop being a man, because they don’t have that body part.

Unknown Speaker 29:51
Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker 29:52
Because our gender isn’t our body parts. So, we now use assigned male at birth. Or assigned female at birth. Because we know that a person was assigned a gender at birth, but that’s not the gender that they identified us. A person didn’t use to identify as male, and then identify as female. And we’re talking transgender, when I’m talking in general fluid, for example, it would be different. So when we look at a transgender woman that we used to say, male to female, well, that transgender woman was always female. They were just assigned male at birth. Okay. And we recognize by doing that we’re really honoring who they’ve always been, rather than attempting to say, well, you used to be you were a guy for a long time. Which isn’t true. They were always a woman. We just publicly didn’t know that. They just hadn’t told us yet.

Unknown Speaker 30:54
Okay, it was a nice

Unknown Speaker 30:56
are it’s just the world recognize it, and didn’t allow them to be who they really are.

Unknown Speaker 31:04
Right? And I could, if if I’m your supervisor, or if I’m, you know, the the president of the world, and I’m taking you somewhere and I introduce you at a big fancy event, as this is my friend john. Maybe you don’t want to correct me. And so you let everybody call you, john, because sometimes it’s just easier and you just let it go. And it’s whatever. No matter how many times people call you, john, you weren’t john, who’s now Dennis. Mm hmm. You are always dentists. Everybody else just didn’t know. Or everybody else just got it wrong. Okay. So we want to acknowledge that because everybody else got it wrong. You were never john, that was never your name. Maybe because I had power. Maybe I was your boss. And so you let it go. Or you didn’t feel comfortable in the in the party that we were at to correct me or to correct other people. But john was never actually who you are. So it’s looking at what are we doing with our language and the more that we learn, and the more that we understand,

Unknown Speaker 32:12
the more we do better.

Unknown Speaker 32:14
And the more the language matters. We know it matters. We know that when somebody even gets close, but the names wrong, you know, even if it’s at a party, and I say this, my friend, Doug, it’s a D name. It’s close. But it feels weird, right? Because it’s not right. You know, that it’s not who you are. And it makes when I call you the wrong thing. It forces you to decide whether or not to correct me, and to assess our relationship and our power dynamic to decide what the repercussions might be if you correct me. Hmm. Because our name matters because words matter. Right? And we think so often, it’s a politically correct thing and the You know, the PC police. It’s really just being kind to other people. It’s not you being rude, or an awful person or mean to me by saying Actually, my name is Dennis. That’s not rude if I take it that way that’s on me. That’s who you are. Hmm. And looking at, what can we put in then when we know this? How do we make our schools safer? And how do we make it so that these overworked and underpaid educators can be more inclusive in their classrooms? Without it, overthrowing everything, all their lesson planning and everything that they’re required to teach? Because testing happens. And so it’s not about, you know, we no longer will celebrate Black History Month in February, even though everywhere, everywhere else does that. And everybody in every other classroom is doing that. Sometimes it’s just a piece of adding when we talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. We also talk about Bayard Rustin, who was a gay black man Who was Dr. King, the sort of bright hand guy? Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker 34:04
He contributed significantly.

Unknown Speaker 34:07
And it doesn’t require us to go for 30 years in depth about his entire life. It can be just a moment of mention, or if we’re giving middle school students, a list of black people to research and write a report on or do a school presentation on for Black History Month. Let’s also look at, say Marsha P. Johnson, who was an activist that was part of a piece of the Stonewall riots. And it’s been said that she was the person as a trans woman who started those riots and who started so much of our change.

Unknown Speaker 34:40
Yeah, and, and, you know, I kind of to interject here, you know, like, I know, we were chatting a little bit ago. And, you know, like Alan Turing if it weren’t for Alan Turing, you know, the father of the computers, he was also gay. And absolutely, and what’s so interesting too, Your point is, it’s like, I could envision some, you know, families, you know, possibly with, you know, religious upbringing and going, Oh, you’re shoving the, you know, gay rainbow unicorn, you know, down our children’s throat. But at the same time, one has to realize that when you’re when you are omitting that, you know, it’s like it’s not like you have to say, Oh, this person contributed and they’re African American, right? You can kind of see it. It’s very, it’s it’s a parent or they’re of Asian, you know, Japanese, Chinese, Asian descent, whatever. Some of those things are very apparent. But what in the history books and teaching of history, it’s assumed that everyone is heterosexual?

Unknown Speaker 35:51
And cisgender?

Unknown Speaker 35:52
Yes. And so they’re they’ll talk about you know, Alan Turing and others. For example, Tesla was also from what I understand gay, and the you know what, but but they don’t talk about it and then it’s assumed and so therefore they don’t know and again, people just automatically assume that person was, you know, heterosexual and but just simply saying, you know oh and Tesla was an amazing inventor he happened to be gay bla bla bla bla bla, I mean, just a little mention, which would make a big difference that would make possibly there’s, you know, at least maybe some students go Oh, really? Oh, that’s interesting. And, you know, but as you’re just hearing, it doesn’t have to be some, you know, it’s not graphic. It’s talking about, you know, graphic sexual content is just clarifying that these were important individuals in the course of overall history. And oh, by the way, gay, lesbian, trans, whatever it might be, just to help set that frame of reference, I could see where that could make that small little adjustment could make a huge impact. I also could see at least for a while, a lot of push back from again, religiously conservative folks, you know, demanding that their child is not going to be taught, you know, gay, anything. How have you thought about how that does that at all get addressed in your book on how, you know, as an educator who’s looking at that book, who’s your book and wanting to begin educating their students? Is there any thought or on how they address that within just out of curiosity? I know that’s kind of maybe a question out of left field for you.

Unknown Speaker 37:56
Nothing too much out of left field for me. There actually is There’s an entire section about opposition. And it breaks down within the section, depending who the person is, the opposing ways on which to counter that. And, and none of it is based on argument. I don’t think argument for the most part gets us very far. It tends to make both sides feel defensive. Mm hmm. And for me, I have master’s degrees in both mental health care and education. So I look at not just the learning piece of it, but what the learning process feels like. And so much of what happens is that we have these parents, or grandparents, whoever, guardians who are raising these children feel like, well, this is not okay. Because what they were taught was gay people are scary and bad and corrupt our children. And if that was true, right, like if that was actually true, they would be completely right. Why would you encourage my kids to learn about people People who are bad and scary and do horrible things. I don’t want my kids to learn about those people. Right? And we don’t talk about john Wayne Gacy. In our classrooms, we don’t talk about Charles Manson, in our K 12 classes, because they were mostly terrible people who did horrific things. So when your understanding of what it means for someone to be a gay man, is they’re terrible, and they do harmful things. Those parents are correct and what their argument is. So it’s not insane to them. Like, you know, you’re old and dumb and you don’t know things. It’s looking at where their belief system comes from, and understanding. They really want what’s best for their kids, and they’re trying to make sure that their kids stay safe. So it really breaks down in the book different ways of helping parents and guardians to understand. Here’s the actual knowledge we know about what gay people really what it means to be gay. And here’s what we know about what happens when we don’t teach inclusion in our classrooms. And we know that it encourages bullying. We know that LGBT plus kids are significantly more at risk of being bullied, we know that they’re seven to 11 times more likely to attempt suicide. This isn’t an opinion. And this isn’t political. It’s just factual. And when we know that there’s a population of people at higher risk of death, or at harm, as educators and as parents and guardians and people with nieces and nephews, and, and you know, daycare providers that work with kids, and all these sorts of roles that we have in our society as grown ups, were obligated as grownups to behave like the people who know the answers. You know, I mean, whatever age we all are now, we secretly know we’re mostly just winging it in life. Right like we know, more than the pandemic has taught. When we don’t have a set schedule given to us by someone at a job, we barely even know what day it is. For dinner sounds great ice cream for breakfast makes sense. Why not? None of it like, right? Nobody’s put on, you know, fancy clothes for the most part when they’re working from home. I’ve reached the point now where I’ve decided that like any pants you wear to work in my head. They’re called hard pants. Because my soft pajama pants and yoga pants are all I want to wear forever. I put on jeans the other day and my dog went right into his crate. Because he’s learned there’s no way she’s putting those out unless she’s leaving the house.

About the author: Dennis Velco
An LGBTQ rights activist who focuses on the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur community. Enabling employer brands to thrive and demonstrate their support for their LGBTQ employees and the community.

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