Introduction

Out in Schools recognizes that media is a powerful tool for social change, as well as a marvelous teaching aid. By combining independent film and video with facilitated group discussion, the materials address issues of inclusion while valuing diversity. The primary objective of the Out in Schools program is to inform students of the negative impact that discrimination toward Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirit, and Queer and Questioning (LGBT2Q+) people has on their school and on their community at large. The Out in Schools program aims to create safer spaces for all BC students to learn in.

We are confident that educators will see the benefits of integrating the OiS Learning Hub into the classroom. Educators can use these resources to prepare for or follow-up on an Out in Schools presentation or to support learning if an Out in Schools workshop is not available in their community.

The content on the Hub includes a wide range of materials and draws from established knowledge of media literacy/analysis and research based critique. The teaching material on the HUB is best taught using an experiential learning model. This model includes teaching about respect, exploring values and finding common ground when making decisions on the treatment of marginalized communities. Out in Schools addresses personal as well as systemic issues of injustice through discussion and self-reflection taught by experienced and trained facilitators from the LGBT2Q+ community. This Hub is innovative in its approach because of the diverse perspectives presented through independent media on important LGBT2Q+ subjects. These issues include: identity, allyship, anti-bullying and anti-violence, effective decision-making, creating and maintaining healthy relationships, personal and family values.

Principles and Objectives of the Out in Schools program

The content of the Out in Schools program is based on the following fundamental principles about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer and Questioning people (LGBT2Q+):

  • LGBT2Q+ students have the right to feel safe and supported in BC schools
  • LGBT2Q+ people have complex, dynamic, evolving cultures that are continually adapting to changing world events and environments
  • LGBT2Q+ values and beliefs are diverse, durable and relevant
  • LGBT2Q+ cultures and history have an integral place in the evolution of BC and Canadian society
  • All students benefit from critically examining the issues of social justice and human rights
  • All students benefit from considering how their own speech and actions either promote or undermine inclusion for all students.
  • All students can create positive change in their schools and in their communities

 

The primary objectives of this Hub are to:

  • Increase youth awareness and understanding for the richness, diversity and positive contributions of LGBT2Q+ people on our communities
  • Increase understanding of concepts and lived experiences related to sexual and gender diversity.
  • Understand the serious, negative impact that discrimination has on LGBT2Q+ communities and on LGBT2Q+ youth
  • Support teachers to bring curricula into the classroom and modelling facilitation to build the capacity for teacher led lessons
  • Use independent and alternative forms of media to tell stories and inspire youth to develop their cultural voices
  • Develop critical thinking skills to create safer schools for all students
  • Employ students’ critical thinking skills to create safer schools for all students
  • Increase youth awareness and understanding of intersectionality and the connection between homophobia and transphobia and other forms or systems of discrimination, exclusion, oppression, and domination such as racism and sexism.

Out in Schools’ Approach to Learning

Out in Schools utilizes the experiential learning model to deliver its screening/presentation. This popular model was created from a broad range of cognitive and social science research and is outlined in the Ministry of Education’s “Environmental learning and experience: an interdisciplinary guide for teachers”. The Out in Schools program emphasizes critical thinking, understanding and self-managed learning for students which are inherent in the experiential model. Below is a brief explanation of the cycle.

 

Direct Experience

Direct experience with homophobia/heterosexism and transphobia, both individually and in groups, is an important and vital way to learn about social justice and inclusive practices. These opportunities must be provided in order for the studies to be relevant. They help provide students with a deeper understanding of their own experiences of gender identity discrimination and its impact on their peers. Direct experience allows students to challenge other cultural perspectives regarding homophobia and examine them critically.

 

Critical Reflection and Negotiation/Discussion

For direct experience to be relevant to students, a safe and open space needs to be created for them to reflect upon their own experiences. When students are given adequate time to reflect on their learning, they are better able to evaluate their own experiences against the experiences of others. Central to this process is allowing students to negotiate and discuss multiple perspectives and ideas about homophobia and gender identity. Negotiation involves actively pursuing differing ideas and experiences, as well as looking for common ideas or themes in an effort to have students find meaning in their own experiences.

 

Experiential Learning

The combination of direct experience, critical reflection and negotiation/discussion sets the foundation for the experiential learning cycle. The process of this cycle includes: choosing a concept (homophobia/transphobia) and an appropriate experience to be taught (inclusion, safety, health implications of discrimination, media representations of LGBT2Q+ people). By having students explain their own experience and evaluating their ideas against those of their peers, students begin to apply their learning to activities of daily living. In this model, social justice knowledge is not to be viewed as stable and can often be conditional as our developing knowledge grows from continued exposure and experience (Ministry of Education, 2007, p. 9).

Social Responsibility Performance Standards

The Out in Schools program and Learning Hub are aligned with the BC Performance Standards for Social Responsibility which provides a framework that enhances social responsibility among students and improves the social climate of their schools. The Out in Schools curricular foundation is based in these standards so that educators, students and families are able to have a greater understanding of our approach in addressing homophobia/heterosexism and transphobia.

1. Contributing to the Classroom and School Community

  • Students share an understanding of what constitutes physically and emotionally safe environments
  • The youth are actively engaged in creating these safer spaces

 

2. Solving Problems in Peaceful Ways

Students critique differing opinions on sexuality and gender identity and are able to manage them appropriately. Students present views and arguments respectfully and consider others’ views. Students will identify various problem solving strategies and how to apply them in the proper context.

  • Valuing Diversity and Defending Human Rights

Students will explore the importance of inclusivity and valuing diversity of LGBT2Q+ people and investigate the legal responsibilities of Canadians in this regard. Out in Schools outlines harmful scenarios, from the serious implications of using expressions such as, “that’s so gay”, to educating students about Canada’s Hate Crime legislation which forbids violence based on sexual orientation.

 

3. Exercising Democratic Rights and Responsibilities

The Out in Schools program values the democratic rights and responsibilities of students which is why the films selected to screen are made about, or by youth. Students are presented with films that focus on the rights of young people both locally and at a national level.

Students are challenged to envision an end to discrimination and are encouraged to describe their role in bringing that about. Change and action are stressed as community responsibilities.

Considerations for Selecting Films and Guest Speakers

The Ministry of Education has created a list of considerations to achieve a successful guest speaker presentation. They include:

  • determine the nature of the presentation (e.g. lecture, question-and-answer, debate, response to students’ presentations, facilitation of a simulation or case study). Ensure that guest speakers are clear about their purpose, the structure and the time allotted. The content of the presentation should directly relate to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes. Review any materials speakers may be using, especially any handouts, for appropriateness.
  • be aware of any District guidelines for external presenters and ensure that guests have met these guidelines
  • where appropriate, have students take responsibility for contacting the speaker(s) beforehand and making any logistical arrangements
  • provide time for students to prepare for the guest speaker or panel by formulating focus questions
  • begin the guest speaker presentation with an introduction to the topic and end with a debrief

Building a Support Network and Connecting with the Community

Each educator will find themselves in a unique situation depending on the policies set by their local School District, the demographic composition of the community, school and classroom, and whether or not there are LGBT2Q+ support staff such as School District anti-homophobia coordinators, allied teachers, and the presence of or potential of creating a local GSA.

It will be important to draw upon the support of colleagues within the School District and educational leaders within the LGBT2Q+ community. In some cases support networks will already be in place and protocols will have been established.

The support networks in place will help to identify additional resources or qualified and willing speakers to visit the class before or after an Out in Schools presentation.

Planning a Visit

Follow the appropriate channels that have been set up in your school or District to set a date and time for the visit.

  • clarify expectations with the guest speaker
  • ensure the goals for the lesson are clearly identifiable
  • provide context to the guest speakers as to how their visit fits into the students’ learning outcome
  • prepare the students for the visit. Make sure they know the person’s name, the purpose for their visit and what the students’ involvement will be
  • use an activity related to the topic prior to the visit to help set the stage. See our list of activities.
  • inform the school administrator and office staff of the name of the visitor and the time and purpose of the visit
  • follow School District protocols

On the day of the visit, choose one or two students to greet the guest at the office and accompany them to the classroom. Remember that your visitor is not a school teacher. Be ready to handle class management issues that might arise during the session. If necessary, assist the guest speaker to reach closure with the students. At the end of the presentation, have a student assigned to thank the guest.

You may want your students to do further research based on the information the speaker presents.

Educator’s Lesson Planning Guide

General Framework for Curriculum

The Out in Schools program employs a wide variety of pedagogical strategies in delivering its presentation including emphasizing and practicing listening skills, exposing students to multiple points of view, providing opportunities for critical discussion and debate and providing a departure point for writing and more concrete and relevant learning.

Out in Schools uses a variety of interactive tools to engage students in learning including:

Icebreaker: An activity that allows participants to get to know, and become more comfortable with, one another and prepares students for the lesson ahead.

Brainstorm: A technique used to generate ideas without judgment. In this activity quantity is emphasized over quality.

Round: A facilitator technique used to hear from everyone in the group. Each participant shares their thoughts in turn.

Discussion: An oral exploration of a topic, object, concept or experience. Learners generate and share their questions and ideas in small group and whole class settings. Facilitators encourage and accept students’ questions and comments without judgment and clarify understandings by paraphrasing difficult terms in order to stimulate the exchange of ideas.

The purpose of discussion is to:

  • help students make sense of the world in which they live
  • stimulate thought, wonder, explanation, reflection and recall
  • provide opportunities for students to clarify and expand their ideas and those of others
  • promote positive group interaction and conversation
  • demonstrate questioning techniques
  • promote active listening
  • learn inclusive and responsible discussion techniques
  • reflect on their attitudes and behaviours
  • identify opportunities for allyship

Debrief: This Learning Hub offers suggested debrief questions. Debriefing is a technique that allows students to provide feedback on discussion. Students can comment on ways in which their understanding and perspectives might have changed, what surprised them, what was new to them and how they felt about the discussion. Debriefing discussion need not be limited to prescribed areas. Learners should be encouraged to identify new topics or ideas generated during discussion. It is important to note that regardless of what topics are discussed, a debrief occurs in order for students to achieve proper closure on the subject.

Inclusive Concepts and Practices

The following inclusive concepts and practices are included in the delivery of this Out in Schools Package. These are not meant to be complete definitions. For definitions of terms and concepts, please see Qmunity’s Queer Terminology Resource.

Age – This Learning Hub uses concepts and supporting materials which are appropriate for secondary students of all ages and grade levels. The films tell the stories and struggles of LGBT2Q+ people at various stages of their lives and demonstrate the positive steps that young and old are taking to break down discrimination barriers.

Ally – Everyone has a role to play in making safe school communities for all students.  Students who actively work to do so are allies. This Learning Hub will equip students who do not identity as LGBT2Q+ with an understanding of how discrimination affects LGBT2Q+ youth so they can recognize that in a society that values heteronormativity and cisnormativity, they have a role to challenge homophobia, transphobia, and bullying. It encourages them to consider identifying as an ally and aligning their ongoing learning, language and behaviour to reflect inclusivity.

Belief System – Students, families and teachers have varying belief systems. While the topics of homophobia and transphobia can be difficult for some teachers and students, Out in Schools assists with the understanding that schools need to be a safer place for ALL students. This Learning Hub addresses the serious outcomes of ill-treatment of LGBT2Q+ students and offers concepts for inclusive schools which are respectful of diverse belief systems.

Ability-Disability – This Learning Hub includes games and activities which are physically accessible to students with (dis)abilities. The film selection depicts characters which are inclusive of a wide variety of students.

Divergent learning styles – Whenever possible, this Learning Hub employs a wide variety of learning tools (viewing films, discussion, self-reflection, games) to address the various learning styles of students.

Diversity – This Learning Hub is reflective of the multicultural demographic of Canadian schools and communities, through its promotion of respect for individual and cultural diversity. The film selection is comprised of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds and features characters and storylines which are inclusive of a variety of students.

Ethical and Legal – Canadian law, policy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognize the legal rights and responsibilities allocated to LGBT2Q+ people. All Canadians have the right to education in a safe environment. Students use their critical thinking skills to examine the ethical reasons for why many LGBT2Q+ students are still outsiders in their schools.

Gender Identity –This Learning Hub and supporting materials introduce students to concepts of gender in which they understand that a person’s internal sense of being a man, a woman, genderqueer, etc. is not the same thing as a person’s biological sex. Traditional stereotypes and concepts of gender identity are challenged through the characters which appear in the selected films and the post-film discussion questions.

Gender Expression – Everyone uses dress, behaviour, speech, and other forms of communication to reflect their gender(s).  The materials and activities that this guide uses will present students with a diversity of experiences that help them to discuss and understand how gender is and can be expressed through social or physical means. All students can reflect on how they express their gender(s) and how it does/does not adhere to gender norms as well as how they foster school communities that are open to gender diversity.

Gender Norms – Every culture carries with it social expectations for how we behave and interact according to our gender. Our films ask people to reflect on social messages about traditional gender roles (male vs female roles) and are represented in diverse scenarios and relationships. They also introduce people to portrayals that reflect positive gender diversity that expand expectations of gender roles and avoid stereotypes.

Gender Policing – The enforcement of normative or “normal” gender expressions. This includes policing of all people regardless of whether they identify as cisgender, transgender, gender creative and additional gender diverse identities. Gender policing is particularly harmful for people who challenge gender norms, especially those whose gender does not match the sex that was assigned to them at birth. Gender policing has detrimental effects on school community health and individuals’ health and well-being. The materials and activities in this guide will help teachers and their students understand, re-evaluate, and challenge these behaviours.

Humour – Humour is incorporated into some of the films included in This Learning Hub. Humour does not demean any group, but rather works at keeping students engaged by highlighting specific issues around LGTBQ discrimination.

Language – The selected films represent the voices of young people in their own words. Students are encouraged to get creative in addressing social injustice and develop their own cultural voice.

Multiculturalism – The cultural makeup of the classroom is taken into consideration when selecting appropriate films. Doing so assists students in making connections from their own cultural background to the films being screened and explores the intersections between sexual orientation, gender identity and race, class, ability and other identities.

Policies on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Many school districts in British Columbia already have LGBT2Q+ policies or regulations to ensure that schools are safe places for all individuals. This guide and its resources can be a helpful tool in implementing and or achieving the goals of those policies and regulations. You can find the Vancouver School Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity here. You can also find a complete listing of LGBT2Q+ policies and regulations for every school district in British Columbia here.

Safety – All students have the right to feel safe in their schools. The importance of safer space is a reoccurring theme in this Learning Hub. Safety for LGBT2Q+ students, and safety for all students is addressed. Safe practices and strategies for dismantling discrimination are included in this Guide.

Sexual Orientation – Students who identify as LGBT2Q+ learn that they are not alone and are provided with helpful resources to support them. Heterosexual students gain exposure and insight into the lives of LGBT2Q+ people, which allows them to be more informed of the challenges facing their LGBT2Q+ peers. This Learning Hub breaks down stereotypes, while at the same time highlighting positive role models through film and group discussion.

Socio-Economic – Out in Schools recognizes that students, schools and communities face a variety of economic challenges. The cost to deliver the Out in Schools program is very minimal. Out in Schools presentations are based on a fee-for-service model, however subsidies are available so that schools are not turned away if they do not have the budget for a presentation fee. Subsidies are available on a first come, first served basis.

Violence – This Learning Hub provides opportunities for modelling effective problem solving and conflict resolution strategies. Students are provided with opportunities to develop compassion and empathy by relating to and understanding the characters represented in the films.

For definitions of any terms or concepts, please see the glossary (LINK).

Dealing with Confrontation

Teaching about anti-homophobia, heteronormativity and gender issues are no more controversial than teaching anti-racism in the classroom – in fact, these lessons are complimentary. When teaching about anti-homophobia and discrimination against transgender people, we are addressing the social implications of homophobic and transphobic behaviour in our schools and society. Many School Districts, such as the Vancouver School Board, have seen the negative impacts on LGBT2Q+ individuals and the overall school community. These districts have adopted policies that equip them to fulfill their responsibility to ensure LGBT2Q+ students have a safe school environment. These policies identify concrete measures that foster safer, more inclusive and welcoming school facilities, curriculum and programs for LGBT2Q+ youth.

The following ground rules will help to ensure the topic is presented fairly and with the appropriate sensitivity. Remember, a teacher is responsible for ensuring the exploration of an issue, so the discussion must promote understanding and should not merely become an exchange of intolerance.

Students can be encouraged to approach any controversial issues by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the issue about?
  2. What are the arguments?
  3. What is assumed?
  4. How are the arguments manipulated?
  5. What are the multiple perspectives on this topic?
  6. How might we look at it beyond a two-sided, right/wrong argument?

Instruction related to a sensitive topic should also include:

  • ground rules for interaction and discussion (e.g. respect and value what others have to offer, acknowledge discomfort)
  • a clear division of tasks and responsibilities
  • the appropriate time to deal with students’ concerns and questions relevant to the issue
  • before screening films or initiating instructional activities on sensitive topics, teachers should inform students that people who are most knowledgeable about these issues may have painful memories to share. Teachers should remind students to show respect for their guest speakers, who demonstrate much strength and confidence in order to share their feelings with others in order to promote healing and understanding
  • it is important that the teacher be prepared to help students deal with the difficult emotions that they may feel upon encountering certain aspects of sexual and gender identity education. This may involve consulting with people who are knowledgeable about the issue and/or who are trained to counsel students. Conversely, teachers should also be prepared to follow up on the positive experiences that may emerge from such an exploration (improved student confidence, a positive and supportive classroom atmosphere, further research by students through assignments and projects, future collaborations, providing letters of support, etc.)

(This material has been adapted from the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation video and discussion guide, Shaking the Tree and the Facilitator’s Package for the “Teaching Controversial Issues” workshop. The materials are available from the BCTF.)

Out in Schools Films and Discussion

Introduction: Presenting, Viewing and Discussion Guide for the Film(s)

To showcase appropriate independent documentaries and films that emphasize the lived experiences of LGBT2Q+ youth and engage students in a dialogue on human rights. To allow students to identify and analyze the stereotypical images inherent in mass media. To facilitate the development of a critical eye for commercial messaging and encourage students to be creative in addressing social injustice.

Prescribed Learning Outcome: Students will identify alternative forms of media as a tool for social change.

  1. Discuss the nature of the day’s activities.
  2. Choose icebreakers and activities from the film playlists pages and lead them through these exercises.
  3. Select a film or playlist to show students.
  4. Do a quick round to answer a question that highlights the theme for the film(s) being presented (for the appropriate questions, please see specific film or playlists)
  5. Give the synopsis of the film(s) to students.
  6. Let students know that you will be discussing the themes of the film(s) after the screening. Students should take note of the themes they identify. All films have pre-viewing and while-viewing questions you can ask, too.
  7. Ask students to think about what they find surprising in the film(s) and what might be missing. Choose some post-viewing questions to pose to them. You can also select from questions from the general debrief questions section on the playlist page, too.
  8. After viewing the film(s), close out the lesson with the closing activity.