Friday, December 21, 2018

GHMS Works to Support LGBTQ Students

GHMS Works to Support LGBTQ Students, Metamora Herald

Wednesday night's meeting at Germantown Hills Middle School concerning the disruption surrounding the distribution of rainbow-heart stickers at school was informative. "We were able to clarify the message intended in the letter emailed to parents on December 12th as well as communicate our plan moving forward. The dialogue with our parents was civil and productive.  Overall, I feel the meeting went extremely well." said superintendent Dan Mair. 

"Our goal moving forward is to elevate the discussion to one about teaching our children to be more civil with each other.  To meet this goal, the staff, students and administration will implement to following steps:

Our Middle School Student Council will review our Warrior Code of Conduct, which is the current set norms under which our students are expected to function.   The student council which has LGBTQ representation will review the Warrior Code of Conduct to address any necessary changes.

After the Holiday Break, the Middle School will implement a positive reinforcement program to recognize students exhibiting behaviors that align with our Warrior Code of Conduct.

We will expand the explicit instruction to our students on how to respectfully disagree with others.  This will include the instruction of logical fallacies and how to avoid them, instruction on identifying reliable sources, modelling how to handle disagreement and conflict, giving students the actual language of respectful disagreement, and focusing on empathy and civility so students learn how to seek out the compelling, underlying reasons why a student may think differently.

We will begin a voluntary program during lunch time to allow LGBTQ students and other age appropriate students the opportunity to have discussions about gender and sexual identity under the guidance of our counselors and with parental consent.  

We have reached out to the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to provide professional development for our staff and administration in the areas of creating affirmative environments for ALL students and support in understanding best practices for serving LGBTQ adolescents, as well as providing our staff and administration with a common language and understanding of gender and/or sexuality and healthy identity development.

We have made arrangements with the Front Porch Initiative to work with our staff and students after the break.  The Front Porch Initiative answers the crisis our society faces due to vanishing conversations, commonality and community.  They are a collaborative group of leaders who are passionate about transforming the community by investing in one another.

While we continue to believe that these issues have the potential for causing disruptions and will not generally be allowed during structured class time addressing other subjects, the administration will not be taking efforts to restrict student discussion of these issues during unstructured time so long as the discussions remain civil and the rights of other students are honored."

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