Anti-heterosexist education


Like the rest of the world, most teachers and administrators were raised and schooled in a society that considered homosexuality a sickness--a topic unsuitable for discussion in both classroom and faculty room. Though mainstream attitudes have shifted in recent years, LGBT issues remain largely taboo in school communities. Despite the preponderance of character education and anti-bullying programs in American classrooms today, it is evident that schools are not safe and affirming places for a significant number of students and their families. It is therefore essential to question the nature and effectiveness of the trainings and interventions schools use--if they use any at all--to build secure and inclusive learning communities. Though much research has explored prejudice based on race, sex, ethnicity, and religion, little attention has been devoted to bias rooted in attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. This lack of attention is characteristic of the practices that surround these issues, and the tendency of many to view anti-LGBT bias as an acceptable form of prejudice. While anti-bias education must address the social, emotional, and intellectual roots of prejudice, research indicates that limited attention has been paid to the cognitive perspective. An application of the Riddle Scale represents an approach based on the basic right of every student to enjoy an educational free from harassment and discrimination. Building ethical schools, needless to say, is a complex and arduous task. How, then, does a school approach such a task? It is perhaps most essential to begin by considering schools as moral entities.

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