In safe spaces by Gerri August, August argues that the LGBT students (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identities) are not properly accounted for in the classroom and teachers often, and a lot of the times unknowingly, offend and make the LGBT students feel alienated and invisible. August says that “We adult’s need to pay attention because the stakes are high; these moment’s shape attitudes and ideologies have physical and psychological consequences- particularly for LGBT youth.” In essence by this he means that we as educators and adults need to educate ourselves deeper in regards to sexual orientation tolerance and awareness so that we do not inadvertently offend our students who may not meet our typical heterosexism template.
My opinion of this piece is that it has the right idea. I personally believe that in regards to LGBT students a neutral acceptance policy should be taken. I as a teacher accept you and your family’s sexual orientation and gender identity but I do not have to go out of my way to bring it up in discussion or promote it. Also I believe that as a teacher I am obligated not only professionally but also morally to defend you if you fall under verbal or even physical attack due to you or your family’s sexual orientation or gender identity. I agree with a lot of August’s points on this matter, however I believe some of the examples used cannot be included because the offenses displayed were not intended to be of harm and honestly the offenses seem a bit mild and not worthy of mention. An example of this is the story of Erica the transgender student who was asked to stand to stand up if you identified yourself as a boy or a girl in the classroom. As much as I wish that Erica was not offended I am sorry but this could not have been avoided. The world officially recognizes two genders, male and female. I wish I could ask Erica if she would want the teacher to say “if you a transgender please stand up.” I would find her response very interesting. Even if she responded to my question with “yes” I would have to ask how she expected the teacher to do so? Is the teacher supposed to automatically know that there is a transgender student in the classroom? Is the teacher supposed to assume that asking such a question will not upset anyone? It is a very touchy subject that I believe, as does August, that it is an ongoing and complex issue.
What is your opinion? Do you think the teacher can be held accountable for this?