As educators welcome students back to school, youth around the country are counting on schools to welcome and include all their identities and experiences. Educators must cultivate school environments that ensure not only young people’s safety, but also that they have the opportunity to thrive -- especially for the most marginalized students.

The positive impact of making schools inclusive places for all people can’t be underestimated. When students have their stories and families represented in the classroom -- through books, images and lessons -- it leads to a feeling of connectedness in school, improves academic performance and creates an environment of emotional safety.

Don’t know where to start? HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools has tools for making schools and classrooms LGBTQ-inclusive.

1. Resources for Creating an LGBTQ- and Gender-Inclusive School

This overview of Welcoming Schools’ lesson plans and checklists is a must-have for educators committed to creating a safe and welcoming learning space for all students. Educators will learn to proactively work to prevent and address bias-based bullying, welcome all children and their families, promote gender equity and support transgender and non-binary students.

2. Diverse Picture Books for Creating a Welcoming School 

These picture books showcase stories about all kinds of families and relationships to help kids feel welcome in the classroom. Check out heartwarming books like Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s “And Tango Makes Three” to help your kids to value all kinds of family structures.

3. HRC Foundation’s Annual Time to THRIVE Conference

Registration is now open for Time to THRIVE, an annual national conference that brings together K-12 educators, counselors and other youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency to better support LGBTQ youth. It provides a comprehensive opportunity for attendees to learn current and emerging best practices and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field. 

4. LGBTQ-Inclusive Picture and Middle Grade Books

This book list offers inspiring selections for students in grades as young as kindergarten through middle school to see stories about a wide array of experiences and identities. Books like Arabelle Sicardi’s “Queer Heroes: Meet 53 LGBTQ Heroes From Past and Present!” give students both role models and possibility models for what their future can hold.

5. What Do You Say to ‘That’s So Gay’ & Other Anti-LGBTQ Comments?

It doesn’t matter if it’s a first grader who might not know what the word “gay” means, a sixth grader trying to sound cool or a 10th grader “teasing” a friend.  All of these situations have the potential to create an unsafe classroom or school environment and must be addressed. This guide provides intervention strategies for caring adults who overhear anti-LGBQ comments. 

For more resources like these, visit WelcomingSchools.org

Housed by the HRC Foundation, Welcoming Schools and Time to THRIVE are national programs designed to help LGBTQ youth succeed. Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier professional development program providing LGBTQ- and gender-inclusive resources to schools to reduce bullying behavior and establish a positive school climate. Time to THRIVE is an annual national conference that brings together K-12 educators, counselors and other youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency to better support LGBTQ youth.


Don't miss a post

Sign up for RSS feeds

Have a news tip?

Share it with us

Community discussion

Read the guidelines