HRC’s Back-to-School Tips: Add LGBTQ Topics to Math Problems, Check Pronouns

By Lauretta Brown | August 17, 2016 | 2:47pm EDT
(AP photo)

( – The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) “Welcoming Schools Initiative” released back-to-school tips for educators Tuesday that include introducing LGBTQ topics into math word problems and "checking in on each other’s pronouns twice a year" to increase “accountability.”

The tip to integrate LGBTQ topics into everyday lessons includes a suggestion to “make sure that you suggest some LGBTQ people that your class can study such as Harvey Milk or Alan Turing.”

“Creating word problems?” the HRC classroom guide asks. “Rather than asking students to calculate the speed of a car carrying ‘Gabby and her mom and dad,’ ask them to calculate the speed of a car carrying ‘Gabby and her two moms'.”

Another tip emphasizes the need to remind students that “they can follow their interests, and make this especially clear when your students are picking between activities that are often gendered.”

The guide recommends telling the class: “During recess today you have a choice between learning a dance or playing soccer. Remember that girls can play soccer and boys can dance, so do whichever you’d like to do more.”

“Consider what values would help LGBTQ students feel welcome,” the guide suggests, asking teachers: “Should your class agree to check-in on each other’s pronouns twice a year? Do you think your class can agree to never use anti-LGBTQ slurs like ‘that’s so gay’? Should your students agree together that students of all genders can follow their interests?”

HRC recommends “a list that you can post in the classroom,” since “posting the list will increase accountability among students and you can always add more values as the school year progresses.”

The "Welcong Schools" guide also advises that educators censor “anti-LGBTQ language and comments” to prevent bullying.

The guide provides anti-bullying tips, telling educators  that “gender stereotyping happens early on –– even before birth. During pregnancies, friends and family will often ask the sex of the baby in order to buy different gifts and colors according to gender stereotypes. Gender stereotyping happens all around us, and it can be hard to notice, but ending gender stereotyping allows both children and adults to be themselves.”

“Gender stereotyping and bias-based bullying is particularly prevalent in elementary school. Stereotypes can get in the way of children seeing people and their classmates as individuals,” it adds. “These stereotypes can then lead to bullying, harassment, exclusion and even physical violence.”

Last year’s tips from HRC’s “Welcoming Schools Guide” included one asking that teachers address their classes using words like “friends or students” rather than “girls and boys”.

It also recommended eliminating the use of “father” and “mother”, suggesting that "if a form requires the name(s) of legal caregivers(s), the form can just say ‘parent,’ ‘guardian,’ or ‘caregiver.’”

Related: HRC's 'Gender Inclusive Classrooms' Guide: Say 'Friends' or 'Students' Instead of Girls and Boys

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