At The Pearl, we strive every day to create a safe and supportive space for students to thrive. This means actively supporting our LGBTQ students through inclusive curriculums and by respecting their identities.
What Struggles Do LGBTQ Students Face in High School?
High school is a notoriously difficult time for LGBTQ students. As teenagers, our brains are focused on the development of our personal identity. Because of this, during high school, many students start thinking about their sexualities and gender identities.
Self-discovery is difficult on its own, but when it’s coupled with the pressures of conforming to strict expectations of what your teenage years should look like, the weight of learning that you are different can be crushing. LGBTQ students may experience bullying and harassment both from their peers and from authority figures. This harassment can come in the form of being forced into a uniform that doesn’t respect their gender presentation, being disallowed from attending school events with the partner of their choosing, being misgendered and dead-named by fellow students and staff, forced into bathrooms where they are unsafe, or being banned from school sports or other activities.
Supporting LGBTQ students helps students know that they are safe.
What Do We Do Differently?
The Pearl is a democratic school. This means our students are in charge of their curriculum and learn the subjects that interest them. For example, if a student is curious about the history of Pride we can help them find the resources needed to study it. Queer history, philosophy, health, and politics are topics that most students never get a chance to learn about in their entire education experience. Because of this, queer students can feel isolated or like their identities aren’t real or valid.
Another important way we help queer students feel safe and accepted is by respecting their identities and the way they express them. We are happy to accommodate students changing their pronouns or the names they use in our classrooms. This is the bare minimum we should expect of educators. Getting misgendered or dead-named daily is exhausting for Transgender students, especially when they are still trying to understand their identities. When we allow teenagers to explore their gender expression we create adults who are happy and comfortable with who they are.
At The Pearl, we don’t create a standard expectation of what your teenage years should look like. We know that many queer people feel robbed of their teenage years. Films and TV create a heteronormative image of what that time in your life should look like. By supplying our students with access to other kinds of stories we can help shatter that illusion. There are as many ways to be a teenager as there are people.
Whether you are dating someone of the same gender, exploring your own gender identity, or realise you have no attraction to anyone at all you are safe to be yourself with us.
Resources for LGBTQ Youth and Parents of LGBTQ Youth
The Trevor Project – Resources for supporting LGBTQ Youth and Suicide Prevention
The BeYou Project – Support for LGBTQ Youth, based out of the UK
CDC LGBTQ Youth Resource List – Resources for Parents, Educators, and LGBTQ Youth
Trans Lifeline – Trans Run Crisis Hotline