Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth by Annemarie Vaccaro

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth by Annemarie Vaccaro

Author:Annemarie Vaccaro [Vaccaro, Annemarie]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-12-04T04:21:58+00:00

Chapter 6

Outside the Classroom


Let’s play a word association game. The word is “school.” List as many

images and feelings that arise from this memory-laden concept. (Really, take

a moment and jot down these associations.) Your immediate associations

were most likely academic in nature—images of books, calculations, and

exams. If your school experiences were anything like ours, however, not far

down on your list were associations having to do with social dynamics. For

many of us, memories of school-based relationships (e.g., friends, cliques,

and alliances) retain their sharp outlines and angles long after memories of

academic pursuits get fuzzy around the edges. These associations persist

because school experiences shape more than our academic lives—school

shapes our lives as social and emotional creatures, both present and future,

both individually and together.

Because schooling is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon, a discus-

sion about safe schools cannot be limited to classroom experiences. As

vital as a classroom teacher is to the well-being of an LGBT student (see

Chapter 5), a vulnerable young person eventually leaves the protection of

an adult ally for what too often are the treacherous terrains of unmonitored

hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, locker rooms, residence halls, and athletic

fields. The unstructured and largely unsupervised snatches of time that

most students find liberating pose substantial risk for LGBT students.

A few short minutes between periods can seem like an eternity, and the stair-

well between one classroom and the next is nothing less than a gauntlet.


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