by Reagan Reese
The Michigan Department of Education (MDOE) promoted resources for educators on how to start a “Gay Straight Alliance” (GSA) club in their schools, according to training materials.
The MDOE’s LGBTQ Students Project includes trainings and resources for LGBTQ students as well as educators on getting a GSA club “up and running,” according to the materials. For starting a GSA club, the department promoted a GSA resource list and brainstorming activity for educators to teach them how to advertise the club and insure student confidentiality.
An activity titled “what are some best practices to help your GSA be successful?” encourages educators to find a “safe space” for a club by reaching out to a school counselor or band director. To advertise the club, the activity suggests school announcements and putting the information in school newsletters.
“I had the school secretary read it aloud on the announcements to advertise,” the activity read. “Just hearing her say the words ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender’ aloud every morning for a week was a thrill.”
Once the group is created, the activity suggests the group establish its purpose and whether it will be a “social, activist, support group or some combination.” Then the group can decide what “activities” it will to partake in, including “National Coming Out Day” and “Transgender Day of Remembrance.”
The educators are also encouraged to establish a level of “confidentiality” and how to “protect your students at this level,” the activity showed. Educators are also taught to find out the best way to communicate with their students and to have “concern about who can record” any group messages or communication.
If there is resistance or pushback, educators are encouraged to tell parents the club is a different name such as a “diversity club,” “safe space club” or “S.T.O.M.P – Students Teaching Open-Mindeness & Pride,” the activity resource showed. Educators are told to also find allies within the school district who support the club.
Educators are told to mark other “safe spaces” using stickers or pins and to “gather support to speak at school board meetings,” the activity showed. Other resources promoted included How to Start a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) by the American Civil Liberties Union and Best Practices for Adults Interested in Working with Middle School Gay-Straight Alliances GSAFE, a group focused on LGBTQ+ youth in Wisconsin.
The MDOE’s LGBTQ Students Project advised educators to hide transgender students’ name and pronouns from their parents. In a set of training videos, MDOE officials told educators that the schools do not have an obligation to tell parents about a students change in gender identity.
The MDOE issued a guidance in 2017 regarding the creation of a “safe and supportive learning environment for LGBTQ students” which included “professional development opportunities on issues affecting LGBTQ students to district staff and board members.” Educators, including “coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and administrative support staff,” should be trained in creating an affirming LGBTQ environment, the guidance stated.
The MDOE did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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Reagan Reese is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Students” by cottonbro studio.