Valuing Who You Are
National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day has been celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community and allies since 1988 to demonstrate and share pride in our identity, and solidarity with each other. At Foundation Academy, coming together as a community is the heart of our organization. So we understood how important it would be to celebrate this day together.
On October 11, we held our first National Coming Out Day Celebration for scholars grades 9-12 at our FA Collegiate campus. The event provided a safe space for our LGBTQ+ scholars and allies. At a time when some school districts are restricting or banning information and issues related to the LGBTQ+ community, we believed holding a celebratory safe space for our scholars was crucial.
The event, hosted by Health & PE teacher Nicole Waligorski and myself, provided opportunities for scholars to create arts and crafts projects celebrating their pride, their solidarity, and the LGBTQ+ community. We also discussed topics suggested by the scholars, such as LGBTQ+ visibility, underrepresentation, stereotypes, coming out, and homophobia in a school setting.
Throughout the discussion it became clear we have more work to do in order to make all our scholars feel supported in their identities and/or gender expression. Every student, including those of the LGBTQ+ community, deserve to feel welcomed and accepted for who they are. That is our goal as a learning community; and we are continually moving to dismantle injustice in all forms.
A 2017 National School Climate Survey report published by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) stated that more than 95% of students across the US had heard homophobic remarks. And more than 70% of LGBTQ students nationwide reported experiencing verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation, nearly 60% based on gender expression, and more than 50% based on gender. This survey, and our own open forum, shows more needs to be done to protect and recognize LGBTQ+ students.
Support can be identifying yourself as an ally or person of the community; or intervening when hearing derogatory or homophobic comments. As an openly queer Social Worker at FA, I strive to uplift the voices and visibility of our LGBTQ+ students and allies -- rather than silence them or let them stand alone. In addition, I will continue supporting our scholars by hosting monthly gatherings providing safe space for LGBTQ+ scholars. I will amplify their voices, and highlight their strength and resiliency through collaboration with school leadership and community partners. We hope by gathering each month, scholars gain the confidence to live openly and proudly as who they are both in school and out.
To read more of the 2017 GLSEN National School Climate Survey, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED590243.pdf
Yvette Wade, LSW, C-SSW (she/her) what's this?
Student Success Team Social Worker