Creating Inclusive Classrooms for the LGBTQ+ Community

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the 2018 NJEA Convention to talk to Philip McCormick, Digital Communication and Information Lecturer at Rutgers University and Social Studies Teacher at Columbia High School, about the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ students in schools by creating inclusive classrooms.

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"We are at the 165th NJEA Convention. It is my honor and pleasure to introduce one of the great educators who is here He is Philip McCormick, Digital Communication and Information lecturer at my alma mater Rutgers University, and a Social Studies Teacher at Columbia High School, which is in? Maplewood, New Jersey. One of the things about you is this initiative that you're presenting on today at the NJEA convention, Beyond the Rainbow: the LGBTQ+ Community. These students who fall into this... I hate to say "category". What is it that teachers need to do, that we need to do, to make students who are in the LGBTQ+ community feel included? Isn't that the goal? Absolutely. And that's such a great question, and it's so complex. But I'm a firm believer that to teach people, we need to reach people. And we hear this concept of teaching the whole student, and I feel that good education is inclusive. It's inviting. Someone by the name of Emily Style, who's a... who's done research on equity and... Right. ...inclusion, has talked about this idea of windows and mirrors. And she said... one of the things that stuck with me was that good teaching acts as a window and both a mirror to students. So students are able to learn about other people, sort of a figurative window looking into the lives of others, but also are able to see education as a mirror reflecting their own identities. And a lot of the times, that works for some people. Some people are able to get really good mirrors where their history and their experience is mirrored. But some students don't really get their own experience, whether that is by sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sometimes their stories aren't fully told. It's often single stories that are represented. We... you know, oftentimes much of history is written from the story of men - of wealthy men. Oftentimes white men. Which... you know, I identify as a white man. So in some ways that was a mirror for me and... But those stories are also traditionally heterosexual, male, female? Oh yes. That's the situation. That's typical...? That's not inclusive? No. No. It definitely isn't. So I think that just sort of... we can't undo everything, and we can't create a perfect world overnight. In fact, we can't create a perfect world period. But something that invites more experiences, more perspectives to the conversation, I think is valuable. And that's what you're talking about at this convention? That's correct. So my workshop, it's called Beyond the Rainbow, and a main thing about it is it will serve as sort..."