Peter DeWitt’s 2012 book, ‘Dignity For All: Safeguarding LGBT Students’ is a call to action that is just as relevant now as it was five years ago. Written is a highly accessible way it focuses on the building the understanding of the needs of LGBT and the practical steps that can be taken to ensure safer schools.
Importantly, DeWitt makes it clear that this isn’t just about a minority group of students, this is about having a positive impact on the whole education ecology and everyone within it. “Without addressing the needs of LGBT students, educators are not addressing the needs of all students” (32).
Some of the key ideas he puts forward as action points include:
- Educate staff about LGBT issues.
- Participate in GLSEN’s ‘no name calling week’ which could reinforce NZ’s Bully Free Week, Day of Silence and Pink Shirt Day.
- Read literature and use content that contains LGBT subject matter.
- Do not be afraid to use LGBT language, like the word “gay”. Whispering the words or avoiding them suggests there is something that is wrong.
- Encourage diverse thinking and for students to step outside their comfort zone by introducing the perspectives of minorities.
- Ensure your school offers a GSA (commonly referred to as a QSA in NZ)
The best quotation I have heard was from a Rochester, New York, LGBT student who said, “You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do something” (11).
DeWitt, Peter (2012) Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students. Corwin Press: California.