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While there have always been students belonging to the LGBTQ+ community in schools, there has been a movement for inclusivity in education in recent times. This is likely due to the laws that have taken effect recently that has allowed members of this community to have the same equal rights that those who are not part of the community have. Inclusivity is important. It makes the human species stronger and promotes minds and hearts working together to solve challenges and create a more peaceful environment. Without barriers, advancement and improvements can be made both in society but in every sector of business, the arts, science, and technology. 

Inclusivity begins at school. Educators play a vital role in how those who are not part of the community accepts those who are in it. Bullying in schools has become an epidemic. It's often to blame for school shootings. Instead of allowing children to further marginalize students, educators should strive for inclusivity and acceptance. This article will discuss the inclusivity of those in the LGBTQ+ community and how educators can promote that inclusivity. 

Proper Terms

Before educators can stimulate inclusivity in their students, they first need to understand the LGBTQ+ community themselves. There are a lot of terms that can sometimes be missed. While these terms and labels may seem arbitrary to those not in the community, they are often extremely important to those in the community. The following is a list of common terms that every educator should know. 

Ally: These are the individuals who are not part of the community but support those who are. They typically advocate on their behalf or, at the very least, offer a safe place for those individuals to be themselves. 

Asexual: This covers a category of individuals who are not sexually attracted to either sex. Understandably, there is also a spectrum involved in asexuality. 

Bisexual: This category denotes those who have an emotional and/or sexual attraction to members of both sexes. 

Cisgender: Those who identify with the gender or sex that they were born with are considered to be cisgendered. For example, a girl who was born with female genitalia and considers herself a girl is cisgender. 

Closeted: These are the individuals who belong to the community but have not yet made the choice to reveal themselves as members of that community. 

Coming Out: Involves the process that an individual goes through when disclosing their sexual or identity to those around them. 

Gay/Lesbian: This term includes those who are emotionally, sexually, or romantically attracted to those who possess the same gender and sexual identity as themselves. 

Gender-Expansive: This is a belief that there is a wider spectrum of gender identities than just the traditional 'male' and 'female.' 

Gender Expression: How one chooses to express one's chosen gender. This could be done through behaviors, outfits that they wear, and the manner in which they speak. 

Gender Identity: Sex is not the same as gender. Gender identity is the gender one chooses for themselves. 

Gender-Neutral: This involves the removal of gendered terms used in speech. For example, "it's a man's world." Often, it is better to use neutral gender terms. 

Queer: While some students may still feel that this term has negative connotations, many in the community have repurposed it as a matter of pride. 

Questioning: This includes those who are experimenting with their identity or romantic or sexual interests. 

Transgender: These are individuals who do not accept that sex equals gender. A transgender male is an individual who was born with female genitalia but expresses themselves as male. A transgender female is the opposite.

Transition: This is the period in time in which a transgendered individual goes through a few steps, be it medically or legally, to change their appearance or name in order to better suit their gender identity. 

Being Inclusive In The Classroom

Once you have educated yourself on the terms, you can move onto the next step of promoting inclusivity in your classroom. You can begin by understanding the rights of those who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. Title IX bans schools from discriminating against those who belong in the community. If you notice this discrimination, you should report it. This action is the best way to show inclusivity and to stand for what is right. 

LGBTQ+ students also have the right to privacy. If they do not wish to come out, then they should not be forced. Students who pressure other students into admitting that they are part of the community can be considered bullies and should be handled accordingly. Gender discrimination is illegal all across the country. This means that students can express their gender identity in a way that they need without punishment. 

Schools should also have a GSA, or Gay-Straight Alliance, club at their school. Understandably, the biggest risk that LGBTQ+ students face at school is bullying. It's up to you to recognize the signs. 

Preventing Bullying

Inclusivity means that everyone should be accepting of those different from them. Bullies are stalwart opponents to inclusivity. As an educator or principal or another faculty member, you should do everything that you can to prevent bullying. The first step of achieving this is to trust your students when they tell you that they are being bullied.

After that, you must act quickly. Inform the rest of the administration so that they are made aware of the situation. You should also continue to listen to the student who is likely in a lot of emotional--if not physical--pain. You can also introduce that student to resources that can protect them. 

Because bullying can be done both in school and online, it's important that you understand the signs of bullying. You can encourage your students to come to you with bullying problems by intervening whenever you see it happening. Never turn a blind eye to bullies. 

Introducing LGBTQ+ Material Into The Curriculum

The sooner schools introduce LGBTQ+ communities to students, the easier it is for students to accept them as normal. Because they are normal. There are numerous books for elementary schools that can introduce sexual identities and gender identities in a way that is tasteful and understanding. It's not a bad idea to introduce a day for recognizing those in the community and celebrating it in the classroom either. 

In secondary school, teachers and introduce their students to laws that have passed in regards to marriage. This can be a great time to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity in a more legal manner. 

Even college has valuable resources that can be added into the curriculum like celebrating LGBTQ+ pride month, challenging assumptions that students might have of the LGBTQ+ community, and watching "Who I Am," which can promote powerful discussion over homophobia, racism, and stereotypes. 

Final Word

LGBTQ+ students are just like any other students except that they're more vulnerable. Educators can make those students feel welcome by including curricula and behaviors in their classrooms that welcomes and includes the LGBTQ+ community. While you can't battle the perspective and prejudices that students may receive from their home life, you can offer them a different perspective in your classroom.

In so doing, you can create a safe place for members of the LGBTQ+ community. This new perspective can also further forge bridges between the LGBTQ+ community and its non-members. Through better understanding and inclusivity in classrooms, the LGBTQ+ community can finally become normalized and wholly accepted by society as a whole.

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