October 15, 2020
(updated October 15, 2020)
Published by Dennis Velco
GLSEN, a US national LGBT+ education advocacy group completed a research study recently and found that an astounding near 97% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender students aged between 13 and 21 reported hearing disparaging comments about their sexuality or gender identity while at school. The GLSEN report, which surveyed students in all 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam, found homophobia was rife within educational establishments.
Almost 97% of respondents stated that they had heard the phrase “no homo” at school, while more than 95% reported hearing homophobic terms such as “dyke” and “faggot”. About 69% said they had experienced verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation, while just under 57% said they had also been called names or threatened because of their gender expression. Just under 10% reported the same experiences due to their gender expression, it added. Comments such as “that’s so gay” and “no homo” are regularly stated on playgrounds, in the cafeterias, and around school campuses. Almost 92% said the remarks had made them feel “distressed”, said the 2019 National School Climate Survey, which surveyed 16,700 LGBT+ students between April and August last year. 11% of LGBT+ students said they had been physically assaulted, or “punched, kicked (or) injured with a weapon” because of their sexuality, the report noted.
Aiden Cloud, a 17-year-old student who identifies as genderqueer and attends at a small, conservative private school in Nashville, Tennessee stated, “At my school, it’s very taboo for teachers especially to talk about LGBT issues. Even though there are a lot of queer students at my school – just as there are at any school – there’s a very big lack of visibility. It feels very isolating.”
“This is a very significant wake-up call about how the progress we’ve won is directly under attack,” said Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
Matthew French (He/Him/His) is the Founder and ‘90s-nostalgic brain behind Awesomely Authentic, a career-coaching, and inclusion organization that focuses on the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ people as they navigate the milestones of choosing a college to attend, searching for that perfect job, or making your company more inclusive.
With ten years of experience working with the LGBTQ+ community, eight years of professional career coaching, and a love of the ‘90s, he has blended all of these aspects together to create an authentically high-energy tailored experience to each client in order to help them reach their professional and career goals.
Why the ‘90s, you ask? This was an era of aberrance, vibrant colors, and animated cartoons that have influenced the way Awesomely Authentic operates. The search for a college, internship, job, or even tackling your D&I Initiatives can be daunting, but we believe that ‘90s-era fun can be achieved along the way!
To connect with Matthew find him on OutBüro here. https://outburo.com/profile/matthew_french/
Join me and Matthew on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, allies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com
Would you like to be featured like this? Contact the host Dennis Velco. https://outburo.com/profile/dennisvelco/
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 present.
Unknown Speaker 0:11 Hi there this is Dennis belko without bureau that’s o UT a bu r o.com. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode. We are trying the videos. Once again we did do a video with Celia Daniels and then just did audios. We’re going to be trying to do more videos as we move forward and extracting that audio for the podcast. on any of the episodes shows. If you’re wondering where to find this on any of the episode shows or the out bureau comm name pad podcast page, simply check out just just right under the main headings. You will see three bars that are in gray and one will say where to listen and follow this podcast. We are on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcast, and many others. Please follow us on your favorite application today. And at any time you can come to the out your episode page to view the full video interviews like we’re doing today with the fantastic fantastic and fun today. Matthew French. Matthew, welcome to the show.
Unknown Speaker 1:27 Thank you so much for having me, Dennis. I’m super stoked to be here. I really appreciate I’ve given to have some time to chat.
Unknown Speaker 1:34 Awesome, awesome and look at that funding background that we have for Matthew and that is because his a company that is called awesomely authentic and where he is a career coach to students as well as professionals throughout their entire career from entry level such as students entering into the career marketplace. mid career and even senior career professionals. He helps you focus on your career and communicating what you have achieved and the value proposition that you have for prospective employers. So very pertinent to not only our out bureau on LinkedIn group where we have over currently 46, nearly 46 and a half thousand global members, but our site is out bureau.com focusing on the LGBT professional and entrepreneurs. So as an entrepreneur who is also focusing on the career space, thank you so much for joining us, Matthew, again, and if you could please let’s start out by giving a little bit of kind of your career background and bringing you up to today which will pivot but give us a little bit of background as to your education, your background, and How that has begun to lead you into the direction that you are now taking as a as I believe you’re more of a startup, and but you have a long history, which has given you the foundation for this new startup. So give us some info.
Unknown Speaker 3:18 Sure. Yeah. So, I mean, I feel like with a lot of people and Career Services, so that’s where a lot of my background comes from. I went to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, from a small town in Virginia, called Pocahontas, Virginia, so you should totally check it out. It’s very small. If you want to ride four wheelers or something in the woods, that’s a great place to go. Then I went to Old Dominion, did an undergraduate in communications, got really involved in the queer community during that time working in student orgs being a part of Hampton Roads LGBT Center, and then I was a column undergrad, so I was not sure what to do with that degree. I had dabbled in the world of entertainment through being a casting director. And that just, it just didn’t fill up my cup, you know. And so I decided to go to grad school. And I went to grad school at Old Dominion University where I focused on lifespan and digital communication, and specifically LGBT identities around fan communities. So around superheroes, and then I also focused on LGBT identities, and how they focused around technologies like using technology to stay connected and specifically looking at apps like Grindr. But during grad school, I got connected to my career center. I was like, cool, I get to plan events. I get to help students, I get to reach out to employers, this will be fun. And so I did that and that really led me on my whole career path of helping others demonstrate communicate their value to employers and how to best kind of demonstrate that not only to employees, what’s been said I feel like a lot of the people I work with really undervalue their skill sets. It’s Yeah, it’s an interesting world when you’re talking to people about their skills and their experiences and how they can utilize those. So working with students at Marymount Manhattan college was my first job out of grad school up in New York City in the Upper East Side, small liberal arts school about 2000 students mostly Performing Arts, some business and then I switched over to UNC Charlotte about five years ago, where I did career advising mostly for again liberal arts and science arts Media Design, and focusing in on an industry of arts media and design. So helping communicate everything from engineering, to communications to business if you want to work with Disney, you fall under my under my roof. So I would talk with those students about how to best frame their experiences for that particular industry and continually through all of them staying engaged with the LGBTQ community through different ways. And once COVID hit, you know, I just had a lot of outreach from people a lot of help was needed. And through leadership that I have and mentors that I’ve had, they really encouraged me to, you know, start my own consulting to help queer people find the spaces where they could flourish. Because I’m a big believer, I’m weird. And I think everyone has that right to be as weird or not weird as they want to be in their job to be as authentic as they can. So I love to keep it fun and funky and fresh and just kind of pulling from the 90s vibe of like bright colors to really set that tone or getting that professional experience started. Gotcha.
Unknown Speaker 6:46 And so you know, sometimes it’s it’s really hard for people to break through the noise. You know, when you’re looking at resume after resume or you know, once you’ve passed that article Official intelligence span and you’re getting to that human. Yeah, um, you know, having having your resume look really polished. Uh, but having that that spin having that that color palette that layout, that main headline and so forth. That speaks to the professional side, but also just has that poppin wow factor. Yeah, that that grabs that attention. I think that’s really important. And from what I seen, it seems like that’s something that you focus on, on bringing out the personalities of the people as well.
Unknown Speaker 7:35 Totally. Yeah. So this is like a fun little tidbit that I always encourage people to do is one way when you’re figuring out your brand and how you’re going to look to employers. A lot of times people are just like, I don’t know where to start with that. So the best way to start is start with yourself and thinking about what are maybe three brands that you love, that you use a lot you like what they’re doing, and the World, anything like that. And then once you have those three brands, go through their Instagram, go through their website, look at their logos, see what colors they have and which ones speak to you. And you’ll usually see common themes around colors, texts, shapes, that you can then kind of take and metamorphosize into your own personal brand that you can then use on your resume that bleeds over into your LinkedIn. If you have your own website, it can bleed over to there, it can bleed over out Bureau, it’s really about creating a consistent narrative about who you are, and letting that be the authentic self so that way employers are like, you come to life for me, you’re more than just a resume I understand you are based off of just looking at the tones and textures across all these platforms.
Unknown Speaker 8:45 Now, you know, I completely agree and that, you know, you you know, as a professional, you really do need to set your your own brand out there. And interestingly forget his name off the top of my head. But there is a person in my LinkedIn connections and he’s also in the group and I wish I could pull his name up right now, but he’s a realtor in the US and Canada, I forget which it’s not one of the main cities are popping into my head. But what was really interesting is as a realtor, he has he he has these small video monologues. And he talks about connecting with his, you know, audience and one video that he did literally just a week ago, already has, like over 250 likes over 100 comments. And, and well, I even commented to him I’m, you know, I rarely reach out and go beyond the purely professional realm but because we’re connected and we’ve had a little bit of dialogue in the past He was questioning whether he should or someone else was questioned whether he should still be doing it and what purpose of it is it and so forth and he’s like, this is my brand. This is what I’m doing. And I actually messaged him I said, Oh, keep it up handsome.
Unknown Speaker 10:15 They’re also love your background, they just got a Danish modern
Unknown Speaker 10:22 bookcase behind and so forth. But, you know, even when looking for a job, what I recommend for for people to do is you know, whether that’s on LinkedIn and hopefully you’re also creating your brand on out bureau.com o ut buro.com. Is I constantly invite people to no matter what field they’re in, to begin writing and publishing articles even if that’s just one or two or three articles about their knowledge their take on the industry, their take on the technology whatever that happens to be, so that in addition to a professional profile, which is indexed and searched, and so forth, and people can find you, and when employers do then find you on that side, they know you identify and are an ally with the LGBT community, which you know, is diversity and inclusion recruiting. But then, as they see those articles that are also being posted, they see, oh, not only did they go to this school and have this degree and have this bit of, you know, professional education, look, there are so look at these articles that they’ve written in and around that topic. This is the kind of person that we want to hire someone who seems very comfortable in their knowledge and their ability to communicate that knowledge because you know, today, in today’s time, it’s very important to not only have the technical skills, but Have those soft skills as well. And being able to communicate, you know, your knowledge and taking complex ideas and theories and so forth and bringing them down into a, whether that’s a video conversation. And of course, you can also post videos on the site, but adore articles that demonstrates that you thoroughly understand your topic. And it’s going to make those employers go, Wow, that’s a really interesting person. I liked the content that they produced these few articles that really has helped set them apart in my mind.
Unknown Speaker 12:38 When value added its value added, right? It’s if you’re able to speak and demonstrate that you’re up on the industry standards. And you’re also able to, again, like you said, communicate those things. Employers are always looking for more tidbits again, to give them a more full picture of your narrative and who you are as a brand. So if you’re able to write those things, out, you know, I have to admit, I am not the best writer, but you put me on a video and I am there for it. So I already like on my website, I know writing isn’t my strong suit. It’s not something I really enjoy. But I really love doing vlogs. So I used transition line from a blog to a vlog because it’s working to my skills and my strengths, but it’s also a part of the brand, you know, right excitement, you know, and it’s trying to get that out there. And that’s what people have to think about. When you’re thinking about your brand. You’re thinking about how employers are going to perceive you. It’s always important to think about what is this demonstrating as a skill set, right? What is it demonstrating that you’re good at public speaking is demonstrating that you’re detail oriented, because the one thing especially disoriented, I cannot tell you how many people I’ve put, I’m detail oriented, and then they have a misspelling in the resume. So it’s like actually demonstrating those skill sets at work. It also gives you work samples, things you can add your portfolio. It’s it. Again, it’s all about giving the employer more information. On the upfront, because that will also help if employers are searching for you. Right? If you’re on LinkedIn and out Bureau and you have your own website, the likelihood of them digging in then and going for let’s say, your Instagram or your Facebook, maybe places you don’t want them to see as much of that’s less likely because they’ve already gotten enough to understand you as a professional from the things that you’ve already put out there that you are controlling.
Unknown Speaker 14:23 Well, speaking of those other apps, I will say on out bureau comm I’ve written twice, one article on security and privacy for the LGBT professional and it’s all about, you know, locking your locking your stuff down. And one of the things in a couple of articles that I’ve written is, you know, you know, just be very, very cautious and think really hard about the kinds of things that you post on any platform because once posted you may it’s never gone and you may think that Oh, I’ve deleted it from Facebook so therefore it doesn’t exist ball shit. It’s still out there it’s still on those servers because just because you delete something does not mean it’s truly deleted. And you know when you think about even those those apps like you mentioned Grindr, okay. One there’s also I’ve written about and people can Google This is that you know, the US government has warned about that and tick tock that they could be security issues because they share so much information with marketers and so forth. And and going to a point to is, you know, just, you know, when you think you’re in that one on one conversation with that hot stud, and you’re sending those picks up, know that that can be screen captured. Hello very easily. And used tomorrow against you or us at any point in the future against you. So just be very, very cautious of everyone be very, very cautious about, you know, what you send on any platform. And of course, yeah, and of course on out Bureau, it’s only professionally oriented content, no hot torsos shots, love them from my boys on Facebook. But you know, it’s it’s not appropriate for the workspace.
Unknown Speaker 16:32 So but it’s actually a good point. I would like to touch on that a little bit because it is a different aspect than what
Unknown Speaker 16:38 professional career counselors sometimes have to deal with. When you’re coming from the queer community. We’ve created our own spaces where we’re safe, right? So whether that be a drive bar or LGBTQ center, or you know, it used to be a lot of like Craigslist or you know those types of areas, being aware of your friends. And and how those things can come back to you. So having those conversations around, I do with clients, you know, quite a bit of saying like, what platforms do you use, like be aware that you’re you’re currently around people who are seeing you. So if you don’t want to be out of work, or you want to come out on your own terms that could hurt you. If someone works that institution or works at that company, and they’re on Grindr, or one of the apps, right, so it’s being aware that those things can come to you and being aware like, on your Instagram, I believe me, if I had a six pack, I would show it off as well. But what does that communicate to an employer if most of your shots tend to be of yourself? Barely close in some instances, and a lot of employers I’ve spoke with because, you know, I’ve worked with 2000 plus employers now from across industries. And the thing that they say consistently, especially around millennials, and Gen Z, below millennials is that what they worry about with us the most is that we are self serving and self obsessive. And so I’ve had employers tell me that if someone on their Instagram has too many selfies, that’s a red flag for them, because they really, they’re self centered, and they worry about their team. workability so it’s being aware of like, what does that communicate to you?
Unknown Speaker 18:17 Interesting, interesting. Okay. So it needs to be more group photos.
Unknown Speaker 18:24 From a dog in there, if you got a pop, like, you know, take a picture of some flowers, I don’t know, but it’s really thinking through like that brand. And I’m always very cautious. Actually, I don’t want to I’m cautious. I’m cognizant that you know, I everything I post is going to be seen by someone and you know, even sometimes adding in that little blurb if you’re currently working, like views are my own right because there are a lot of employers are cracking down on you’re not allowed a certain amount of social media. I know of employers in higher ranking government offices where they will actually sit down with you and want to go through all of your private messages on Facebook and Instagram. So yeah, it’s a lot so you just got to be aware that’s the whole that’s really is just like awareness building you know?
Unknown Speaker 19:08 Right right yeah especially in the government entities if you’re going for any level of security clearance you you depends on what you post yeah it can be done you can be over so so so so word of caution for everyone lock your stuff down and keep it clean if you need to go back and do your best yes it will still be out there on servers but not publicly visible. I for one my Facebook is is is locked down only people who are connected with me see what I post but what I post is very simple. Yes, I do go hiking and I occasionally post a hiking picture. But, but I don’t post a lot. Nothing like I do on LinkedIn. You know like once or twice A week on Facebook. And that’s it. So, anyhow, folks heed the warning from a career coaching professional. Be aware, read the articles on out bureau about privacy, and just, you know, take that into mind. So one of the other things that when we had our first conversation a minute ago or so, is, you know, the the concept of, you know, should you be out on your resume, since you’re focusing a lot of your attention, although not exclusively on the LGBT community? Could you talk a little bit about, you know, being out having indicators on your resume that you’re part of the LGBT community and what you have seen in and around that?
Unknown Speaker 20:45 Sure. So the first question I always ask is, where are you at and where do you want to? How open Do you want to be at your place of work? My boyfriend is a perfect example. He is an occupational therapist at a retirement community org working with a lot more elderly So, and he’s not really been involved in the queer community. But in his instance, like he feels more comfortable, like that’s his work life. And then this is his home life. A couple people were no but not he’s not something he’s out about. Whereas me, on the other hand, I am, like, everyone knows that I’m involved in queer things on campus. I’m involved in queer things in the community. So it’s really deciding for yourself, how out do you want to be? And then we work from there. So I let’s take example. And this is when we talked about was it let’s say you’re working at an LGBT Center or you volunteered in the LGBT Center, right? You’re learning a lot of awesome skills there. You can work learn things about communication, working with people during crises, doing programming, building networks, all of those awesome things that you can bring to a company. Now if you’re thinking about, you know, I want to be out on my resume. Those are great little signifiers to just demonstrate that you’re queer or an ally. So you can definitely then focus on those skills. But if you’re being thinking, well, I don’t know, if I want to come right out like that, you could say that you’re part of a community service organization. And then you focus on those skill sets, because those skill sets are the majority and the chunk that matters. But where it really changes up is you got to think past the resume too. You have to think past resume and think I’m going to have to go into an interview. Do I want to bring my significant other to the holiday party? Do I want to have a picture of them on my best? Those are all things you have to think through. And it’s hard to think through that on your own, especially if you’re going into particular industries or sections, or you’re at different hiring levels. These are all things you want to take into account. I mean, my personal perspective is the biggest thing that matters are the skill sets that you’re learning there. And that’s what we want to always communicate right. So I’ve definitely seen a wide array and this goes for everything likes, people who have things like around religion on their resume, party affiliations, anything like that, and there are some employers that I always say get a little iffy if something SJW like social justice warrior comes up in there. They get nervous because they’re like, oh, are they going to cause us think about something? Right? And then the thing, is that a place that I want to be, you know, right, right, it’s okay for you to interview the employer and decide if that’s a good place for you to be. And professionally and personally.
Unknown Speaker 23:29 Right. Well, I think that that’s a good point there. And it’s, uh, you know, especially in today’s time, you know, you have to make those personal decisions. And I have, you know, been in a LinkedIn group that I’ve had people say, you know, the well because also their career paths and there, they have none of their skill set has come from working with LGBT organizations and therefore, they you know, was was not pertinent to their Rear. And you know, so people have been like, well, it adds no value. So why would I put that? Well, of course, but there’s also people who have, you know, there’s very some very wonderful large LGBT focused organizations that, you know, have 50 100 600 employees, and you could be working in their IT department for several years, and maybe you’ve done some amazing things within that organization and you work there for three or four years and now transitioning to a different job and, you know, putting that skill set is very pertinent and, you know, having the, the having it on your resume, it’s, it’s, you know, everyone has their own personal journey and their own personal comfort level. You know, some people are again, like, well, it has no pertinence. I’m, you know, this is my career, and I just Treat it as a non issue and it’s nobody’s business what I do at home, and then other people are like, you know, no, I want to make sure that that they’re going to accept me and my full rainbow self and if they don’t screw them because I don’t want to go to work for someone who’s not going to accept me at all. I’m like fabulousness. Right, exactly, you know, everyone is on their own spectrum. And and so there’s no right or wrong answer to that question. It’s for you to answer for your individual self with you and your individual career path. And, you know, maybe for your career, you need to work for period at a homophobic organization, just because you want that skill set that they are going to offer for a year or two, but you know, it’s going to be like, Alright, I’m going to walk in there. I’m going to keep my head down. I’m going to get that on my resume, then I’m going to be like, you, bye bye. Next. I mean, I’ve had people talk about that too, like they knew that they were walking into an extremely homophobic environment, but they knew they were going to injure that just to because it was the only place that they could get the particular stuff on the resume that they needed for the next jump. And I think that’s also very important when you’re looking at your career. Because I get hit with questions all the time. And I’m always looking, let’s like, Look, I’m not I’m not the professional, you know, career coach. I’m not a professional diversity and inclusion consultant, but here are the people who are FYI. So do you. But as I, as I tell people in the past, it’s like, Yeah, sometimes, you know, when you’re looking at your career, you need to think about where you’re going to be where you want to be five years from now. And look for a job and a company that’s going to give you the skills that you’re going to need for your next Next move, you know, honestly be looking at because that’s why you have to interview essentially, and assess that organization. Does it have the job, the reputation that’s that you want? And does it have the the job opportunity that’s going to take you to that next level, either within that company or another company? Because let’s face it, companies are not loyal to you. They’re only loyal to they’re only loyal to their profits. Yeah, so most work most companies are you know, like, even here in Florida, it’s worth work at will estate or at will estate, meaning that they can let you go for no calls whatsoever at any time with no recourse. So many states are like that. And as soon as and, you know, unfortunately, with the COVID, you know, we’ve seen so many people have been laid off. I mean, with cause but you know, just realize that
Unknown Speaker 28:00 Companies are not going to look out for you.
Unknown Speaker 28:04 Period, you have to look out for you. So you are the numero uno, because as soon as their profits start dipping, they’re going to say goodbye. They’re going to say, so sorry, we’re laying you off. So you need to take that into your mind. And you need to realize that it’s no longer like my dad worked for two employers his entire life, you know, it’s no longer that way. And so you have to think of strategically What does this employer add value to me? Do they have all the benefits that I want do or do they have domestic partner benefits? Do they have all the LGBT benefits and inclusivity that I can actually go to work, be proud to work there. And for those people that I know throughout my career history, is this the type of employer that I would recommend to others. And if not, again, maybe it’s a strategic move. on your part, but you know you as an LGBTQ person need to seriously think is this the kind of employer that I want to work for because and just don’t take and hopefully all of you out there will start rating your encourage and recent past employers anonymously on out bureau calm, because, uh, frankly we’ll see I’m not trying to beat folks up. I’m not I just facts, just facts sweetie. But you know when you look at the list of employers who rank 100% on the HRC Human Rights Campaign on corporate Equality Index, don’t think at all that that hundred percent score is much more than yes effort. But But mostly a lot of marketing. are many of the organizations very proud and so forth. Yes. However, don’t think that just because a corporation has achieved that Very few limited 1000 level companies who have the privilege to be on that list and paid the money to be on that list $21 million a year
Unknown Speaker 30:13 total. So it’s not cheap.
Unknown Speaker 30:17 So realize, though, that even for example, Goldman Sachs again, not trying to beat folks up, just fat, just truth and facts and news is in the news, okay, they’ve been on the list of HR C’s corporate Equality Index ranked 100% for several years, and even just this past year yet again, was was touted as one of the best places in the financial sector to work for, okay, and they just had to settle a lawsuit where someone was after eight years of working there, got a new boss, and that new boss was a homophobic asshole, and started making comments like are you doing that? Because you’re gay. Why do you have to sound so gay? And making comments like that to the point where he brought it to HR, no action was taken until it got so bad that finally guess what they hired him saying that he was not interested in his work any longer. Well, excuse me, there’s a hostile work environment where I’m constantly being berated and discriminated against and harassed for being who I am as an LGBT person. HR hasn’t taken any actions against it except to so yeah, it might it might someone’s work performance declined a little bit because they don’t feel comfortable in their workspace and they don’t feel safe. Sure, but they used that as a reason to fire that person, which is been retaliation. So there was a lawsuit in and around that. So just I’m just saying, Be aware
Unknown Speaker 31:59 that Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 32:01 like bets. And I think that’s, you know, from the Career Coach perspective, I would say if a client came to me about those issues, I always, you know, definitely talk about what are your legal protections. But the thing that a lot of us, as LGBTQ people have to sometimes take on, that we don’t always want to take on right, is the spaces that we inhabit. by us, just being there is politicized and is, is made different, right? So a lot of times what we’re what we’re charged with is when we encounter those spaces is I always encourage clients to think through like, is this a space where you want to try to make change as a space where you want to back away and again, helping them kind of think through those things. I mean, I’m an educator, I’m from education. So I’ve been a part of a lot of like LGBTQ equality things over the years. So I’m usually in the space of like, I’m going to educate and I’m going to kind of changed from within and try to find ways that I can make that change like going to people and being like, we need to start go to the LGBT RG, we need to talk about this like making making a rustle about the things that like, are not connecting, right? If they’re on the HRC Equality Index, why is this happening to me and going into many organizations, organizations don’t do not that people based on their their perceptions on diversity and inclusion. And you have to like hit those people sometimes head on. And it’s really that decision. It’s not fair that we have to take up the mantle of being an educator or an activist and our role sometimes. But it’s kind of sometimes the name of the game of thinking through and I always like to think through it as you know, as a queer person who I’m okay with speaking up, like at least if I speak up now in an organization. Hopefully that makes at least some sort of change for the future. And that’s really what it’s about is Again, a lot of you know, career coaches, sometimes we use blanket type of advice. It doesn’t work that way, with queer people. We’re all coming from such diverse backgrounds, we’re all facing different intersectionalities of our identity around race, gender, socioeconomic status, that every single instance can be handled in a different way, depending on your personal preference. And so the person that’s there like, you know, I would have definitely have, like, encouraged them, like, what resources are available there, what resources are available, you know, around the surrounding community, and how do you connect those to make do or do what you know, if you’re not if you’re not longer able to do your job, because of those types of threats and those types of feelings that someone is targeting you. I mean, I think it’s very well to like go the go the legal route. It’s something that has to be done because change a lot of times can be messy and it’s important for people Not to go into looking at an employer like all they have these ratings, and there’s a lot of different rating systems. Just because they have those ratings does not mean that everyone in that company has that perception, I think we’re able to troublesome to is if your human resources departments are not stepping in, and that’s where I’ve never been one to be like, hierarchy, right? Like, oh, I report to this manager. And so I tell them that and then they’ll go and tell that person, I am the first one, like, if my direct supervisor does not do anything, or I feel like there’s nothing being done, I’m the first one to jump over everybody, and be like, okay, we’ll just go to the head honcho, because clearly, you know, so it’s really kind of like setting up those steps. And that’s where someone like, you know, talking to local community members reaching out on LinkedIn posting about hero, that’s where you can find what are some strategies of working around a lot of these things.
Unknown Speaker 35:53 Absolutely. And, you know, I’d like to clarify been very,
Unknown Speaker 35:58 very vocal. In my writings on it, you know, get I’m not trying to beat up. It’s just news facts right? And there and there’s other other organizations that I’ve, I’ve used in my examples in the past. But, you know, the thing is, is that the the policies of a company are the intent, and also the CIA, frankly,
Unknown Speaker 36:28 to help mitigate litigation in the future.
Unknown Speaker 36:33 For example, a lot of the companies who have LGBTQ inclusive policies also have what’s called forced arbitration. Which means when you come on board as an employee, you are signing away your right to publicly sue them, which so if you get discriminated against or harassed, you cannot put forth a public lawsuit you are forced into arbitration Which doesn’t see the light of public day, it keeps it out and no, so you can’t talk about it. So that way it keeps their image from being from it being known. So those are that’s why when you when you do post on out Bureau, it’s anonymous. We know who you are, but it’s anonymous publicly, so that you can still share it also, just in case you still feel like there’s a potential issue. I actually created a catch all employer box called out bureau so that because it’s really important for those those issues to be to become known as a collective. And over time, the goal is is that that will be able to as more and more people utilize the services and input the demographics and all those kinds of things as part of their review. That will actually be be able to partner with folks like yourself And the educational side provides to statistical data through it, but but realizing, as you pointed out that, you know, these larger organizations who have these, you know, wonderful and I do applaud everyone who has them, it’s a step in the right direction. But when they have 100, you know, just using the example of 100,000 employees, as you stated, The though all of those employees when someone when an organization enacts you know, LGBT friendly policies, non discrimination policies and so forth, that doesn’t just automatically, you know, overnight, turned all 100,000 employees into your day. Yeah, right, Rainbow waving, unicorn writing, loving, magical land, right. They still have their, they still have their biases, and so forth, those lifelong learning prejudices and biases that it’s a lot to overcome. We’ve seen that on race and we’ve seen In it on sexual harassment, you know, sexual harassment has been illegal here in the United States since 1978. Every year corporations put all kinds of effort into annual training, signing off and so forth. And yet it still happens. Right? So, you know, that’s something too. So it’s not that I’m necessarily I’m not trying to beat up organizations at all, but I’m just trying to, you know, reality check. Because when I don’t want companies to think that just because they are on those corporate Equality Index lists, that we think they’re perfect, because they’re not perfect.
Unknown Speaker 39:40 The work is never done, the work is never done. When you’re dealing with these identities, our I mean, our identities, guys that are politicized and it’s it is what it is, and that’s where we’re having to work within the spectrums of like, heterosexual life daily. So it is truly self worth. Just to kind of like work through.
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.
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.
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.
November 15, 2018
(updated October 13, 2020)
Published by Dennis Velco
Texas A&M has been ranked in the top 20 “Unfriendly Schools for LGBT students” in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 by the Princeton Review. Until now, the Texas A&M University Student Senate has never passed any legislation to support the LGBT community. This week, in a historic move, the Texas A&M Student Senate has passed two resolutions in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Aggies.
The first resolution approved Wednesday night expresses support for the school’s GLBT resource center, acknowledges several past-students who pushed for student equality and recognizes Texas A&M for sponsoring, for the first time, an appearance at the 2017 Houston Pride Parade.
The second resolution encourages A&M to establish more gender-inclusive restrooms on campus.
Gender-Inclusive bathrooms are public bathrooms that people of any gender, gender identity, and people with disabilities are permitted to use.
According to the resolution, A&M has permitted two psychology buildings to have gender-inclusive bathrooms, but the Student Senate calls for the administration to continue taking steps towards creating a university-wide gender-inclusive bathroom policy.
“I truly hope that these resolutions inspire more young prospective and current Aggies to continue to fight for inclusivity and equality at Texas A&M,” said Zach Huebschman, one of the students who introduced the resolutions.
“I want to also thank all of the students who attended the meeting to express their voice and I would like to thank the Senate for taking a bold step towards a better University for all students,” he said.