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Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Educators and Students

All students deserve a great education that gives them opportunities to learn, grow, and pursue their interests, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or how they express their genders.

The Issue: LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Proactive inclusion of all genders, ethnicities, sexualities and lifestyles is critical to the mental health and happiness of our students and educators. In 2022, CEA surveyed Colorado educators to get a better grasp on the education landscape for LGBTQ+ educators and students. They survey led to the creation of a report called “LGBTQ+ in Education:
Building An Inclusive Public Education through our Unions”. The report found that the majority of LGBTQ+ educators work in school environments where they feel neither safe nor supported.

  • 85% of LGBTQ+ respondents are not openly “out” to their school communities.
  • 80% of our LGBTQ+ educators reported working in a school without gender-inclusive restrooms for students.
  • 40% of respondents had witnessed or heard about students being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 45% of respondents who are in a school that engages in equity work reported that LGBTQ+ voices and issues are either not included in that equity work or are only included to a small extent.

In order for our students and educators to thrive, it’s critical that proactive inclusion policies are enacted.

What We’re Doing About Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Educators and Students

As an immediate next step to addressing issues of inequity in public education, changes are needed on multiple levels, including at the state level through K-12 policy and the Colorado Department of Education, at the district level through bargaining and adoption of board policy, and within our union.

We can best ensure that these rights are upheld if they are codified in a collective bargaining
agreement. However, if a local does not bargain, the included model contract provisions can be easily modified into board policies, which a local can push to have adopted by their school board.

We have focused our next steps on school district level changes, but have included changes that could be enacted within the union or at the state level, as well. In identifying the main issues, we found they fit broadly into the following categories:

  1. Non-Discrimination and “Right to be Out”
  2. Inclusive and Accessible Facilities
  3. Inclusive Employment Benefits
  4. Intentional Hiring Practices and Representation
    in the Workplace
  5. High Quality Professional Development around LGBTQ+ Identities
  6. Intentionally Building Inclusive School Culture

Read more about our plans for supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion in the full LGBTQ+ in Education report.