Social inclusion of gender and sexual diversity exists when all people can openly and visibly identify their sexual orientation and gender identity with complete safety and freedom. Their social status and full social participation are guaranteed whatever their gender identity and sexual orientation. The specific experiences and needs of those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gendered, transsexual, two-spirited, inter-sexed, queer, or of those who are questioning our sexual identity (LGBTQ) are recognized, validated and accommodated. At the same time, the many human values, experiences, traits and needs that are shared by all human beings are fully acknowledged and reinforced.
In a society where gender and sexual diversity is fully recognized, accepted and included, all people feel free to embody traits that are labelled as feminine and masculine and to express them through their personality, appearance and behaviour. Equal importance and value are ascribed to those traits, whether they are embodied by men or women (see Understanding Racism, Sexism and Homophobia).
In a school setting, LGBTQ youth are included when conditions enable them to fully express their identity and realize their full potential. They are encouraged and have real opportunities to express themselves, to develop leadership abilities, to take initiative and to participate fully. LGBTQ youth and children with LGBTQ parents and family members feel acknowledged and accepted at school. They feel a sense of belonging, and they see themselves and their family reflected in all activities, both educational and extracurricular. LGBTQ youth and children and their LGBTQ parents and family members feel safe and fairly treated at school. They trust that their specific needs, experiences and circumstances will always be seen as important and valid. They observe such equitable practices modeled by the interaction between the adults (parents and staff) in their school’s community as well.
These positive experiences and relationships are the long-term result of a continual process on the part of school staff to engage all members of the school community in efforts and dialogue to ensure a respectful, equitable and inclusive school climate. A wide range of pro-active strategies to promote inclusive education and respect for sexual diversity in the classroom and the whole school are designed and implemented collaboratively by school staff, students and parents. All members of the school community who witness incidents of homophobia or gender-based violence and discrimination of any kind react and respond consistently to ensure that they are interrupted (see Strategies for Positive Action).
- In my school, how are members of the school community (students, parents, staff) with diverse sexual orientations included and how can I tell?
- In what ways are they (we) excluded and how can I tell?
- How can (or how does) my school benefit from the promotion of inclusive education for students with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities?