As a middle school teacher in a culturally diverse district who is in the processing of beginning an LGBT and ally club, I found the workshops to be very informative and gave me insight to better understand this community. The resources available, the explanations given and the personal stories shared help me to grow as a person and continue to grow in my understanding to better support this vulnerable group so that I can better assist and support the youth in this community through their struggles and help them know it is okay, and they are beautiful just the way they are.
-Debra Calle, Middle School Teacher
As an educator, I wanted to learn more about how to address gender in my learning environment and how to help colleagues to navigate issues related to gender equality/equity. This conference gave me new knowledge and perspective. I learned that every situation is different and that by continuing my efforts to learn about ways to support my students and improve my practice, I am advocating for my students.
-2016 Professional Symposium Attendee
See our 2016 Presenter Bios.
The day will begin with two general sessions for all participants:
When the possibility of a student transitioning in an elementary school is presented, it is very important for all parties involved to be in frequent and meaningful communication. This session will present the story of one school as it unfolded in the transition of a fifth grade student from the point of view of the parent, the teacher, and the principal and their work together for a successful transition. We will address the development of a sequential plan for transition as well as the importance of educating the staff, the students, and the community. We will share how we planned for the child's transition with the school community, the students, and the family.
This session focuses on the concept of trans* literacies (skills and practices that enable learners to negotiate and challenge gender norms across multiple media platforms). The trans* literacies framework views gender variance as a common, shared experience, with the idea that fluency with gender norms makes it possible to critique, resist, and rewrite cultural assumptions about how gender “should” be perceived and performed. Students, whose identities are diverse socially and culturally, are increasingly influenced and pressured by pop culture through the ever-expanding reach of media. It is therefore necessary to give students various access points to share their knowledge. Therefore, this workshop will look at the social justice initiative using storytelling, research, data, role-play and media. It will provide a demo-experience of a critical interactive read aloud which can be used in any school setting. Participants will learn how the inquiry process supports higher-level thinking, fosters agency, breaks down barriers, and creates save inclusive school communities. Attendees will also participate in a series of activities that are designed to support trans*literacies, by integrating critical, creative, and performance-based approaches to engaging with gender. They will leave the workshop with a set of activities they can use in their own classrooms or other learning contexts.
The New York State Department of Education recently released the Guidance to School Districts for Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students (TGNC), which expands on the protections that Title IX and the Dignity for All Students Act have established. Several other states have recently enacted legislation as well to protect and affirm TGNC students. This workshop will explore the implications of these laws and policies for educators, students, and families as well as best practices. Participants will leave with concrete strategies and tips for making your school a safer and more affirming environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
This workshop will address common questions and concerns that arise as a school moves to become more gender inclusive, and will help educators create safe spaces for trans youth and their families in schools. Participants will be given an overview of gender, and what being in a gender inclusive school means. Participants will have small group discussions around common concerns and issues that often arise as a school becomes gender inclusive. These questions will include, but are not limited to: what to do if a school is affirming of a child but the parent is not, messaging and consequences around bullying, and internal push back from teachers and administrators. Participants will leave the workshop being able to identify common concerns and hurdles that schools face while transitioning to become increasingly gender inclusive, and how to become more comfortable facilitating difficult relationships, and solve common questions, between children and parents, parents and teachers, and between teachers and administration.