5 LGBTQ-focused resources for K-12 educators

From gay-straight alliances to washroom access for transgender students, legislation and policies affecting sexual and gender minority youth in Alberta schools have been a much-discussed topic in the past few years. 

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen (‘84 BEd) has called the fight for equality for sexual and gender minorities the fight of this generation. Recently, Eggen asked the province’s 61 school boards—including Catholic, public, private, and charter—to draft policies meant to ensure safety, respect, and inclusion for LGBTQ students and staff in schools.  

So, how do teachers address the topic of sexual and gender identity in age-appropriate ways and help to foster safe, welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environments in schools? Here, in no particular order, are five handy LGBTQ-focused resources for K-12 educators. 

  1. GSAs and QSAs in Alberta Schools: A Guide for Teachers (2nd edition, 2015) - Published by the Alberta Teachers’ Association and authored by Kris Wells, assistant professor of educational policy studies in the Faculty of Education and faculty director with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS), this guidebook is intended to provide teachers who are initiating gay-straight alliances (GSAs) or queer-straight alliances (QSAs) with basic information on a complex and important issue. 

    The guide covers a range of topics, from sexual and gender minority terms and definitions (What does cisgender mean? What is transphobia?) and an overview of important guiding legislation and policies to a list of 10 steps to start a GSA or QSA in your school. 

    There is also a section about the importance of creating positive school environments to help students “grow into resilience”, written by André Grace, professor of educational psychology and Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Studies at UAlberta and faculty director with iSMSS. Grace is also the author of Growing into Resilience: Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Canada (2015), published by University of Toronto Press.

  2. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Recommended Fiction and Nonfiction Resources for K-12 Schools (2nd edition, 2014) - The materials in this resource list support Edmonton Public Schools’ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy and administrative regulations and meet Alberta Education’s criteria of presenting diverse points of view to achieve the programming and curricular needs of all students by recognizing diversity and promoting respect in the K-12 program of studies. 

    The introduction to this resource list states that “A concerted effort has been made to include high quality age-appropriate materials for a wide variety of students and learning styles. We have also placed emphasis on newer releases, landmark resources, and as much Canadian content as possible.” Bonus: Many of the resources listed—ranging from books to documentaries and feature films—can be borrowed from the Edmonton Public Library and the University of Alberta’s H.T. Coutts Education Library. Below is a trailer for one of the recommended documentaries, Valentine Road (2013).

  3. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Queer Studies Subject Guide from UAlberta Libraries - This interdisciplinary online guide is described as a “starting point for exploring sexual minority resources and research available in the University of Alberta Library collection.” It also includes a list of databases that can be used to find academic research on LGBTQ issues in education and a list of LGBTQ-focused teacher resources.

  4. An Updated Graphic Guide to YA Novels with LGBTQ Characters (published June 9, 2015) - Looking for a list of young adult (YA) books for older students that feature LGBTQ characters in a variety of narratives? Then this list is for you. 

    From tearjerkers to graphic novels, memoirs, and dystopian/ post-apocalyptic fiction, this graphic (read: visual) guide was compiled by a librarian member of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

  5. 2016 Rainbow Book List - Also compiled by the ALA, the Rainbow List is described as “a bibliography of books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, and which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18.” 

    The Rainbow Book List is released every January, and books on the list are published within the assigned calendar year or between July 1 and December 31 of the previous calendar year. The list is intended to aid both youth in selecting high-quality books and librarians serving children and young adults in collection development.

Read Alberta Education's Guidelines for Best Practices here.

Feature Image: Participants in the 2016 University of Alberta Pride Week Parade, photographed on the UAlberta North Campus, March 2016.