Learning (and leading) with pride
Educators learn strategies for serving LGBTQ+ students at annual conference
March 25, 2024
More than 200 educators attended the third Lead With Pride Summit, which was held last week in Anaheim. The theme of “Educate, Act, Transform” served as the connector for deep discussions on how educators and allies can better support students and the LGBTQ+ community.
“There is an energy at this conference because of the dedication each of you have to your students,” said ACSA Executive Director Edgar Zazueta. “So many students are suffering, especially those in our LGBTQIA communities, and we must stand with them.”
Maria Al-Shamma, Oceanside Unified School District social worker and LGBTQ+ youth liaison, presented at a workshop titled “Navigating Responses to Bias-Based Bullying.” She believes a single act of bullying against a student may be part of a pattern that educators don’t recognize.
“We might see or hear one thing happen and say it’s no big deal, but we don’t know how many times it happens during the day,” she said. “We need to ask students those questions because we may hear that it happens all the time and they need support.”
She added that educators need to be sensitive to how they respond to students who are being bullied.
“We may be taking actions to offer support and help without knowing if we are doing harm,” she said. “When I talk to students about a tough conversation I need to have with a parent, I ask them if they are OK with it.”
Actress, businesswomen and transgender rights advocate Angelica Ross was the Monday keynote speaker and talked about the important role educators play in supporting students.
“The more that I understand my value, the more I’m able to reflect for other people their value,” she said. “If someone was educated enough to tell me I don’t have anything to be afraid of, it might have changed my entire trajectory.”
She added that students need to be taught how to confront challenges and see how these challenges can lead to bigger and better things.
“On the other side of challenge is strength, wisdom and experience,” she said. “It’s a hard journey for anyone to navigate challenges and come out on the other side feeling like the challenges don’t define who they are, but we can teach our students that circumstances don’t define them.”
Attendees also heard keynote presentations from Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California, and Mason Funk, the founder and executive director of OUTWORDS, a nonprofit that documents the history of LGBTQ people.