Please talk about your knowledge of LGBT discrimination from your viewpoint as being one of the advisers of Heritage High's Gay Straight Alliance:
It’s been very sad and disappointing to hear stories from members of the GSA about how they’re being discriminated against by their peers at Heritage and also by their own families. I can only do so much as a teacher to fix/end this. I can report it to a counselor or an administrator, I can talk to the discriminators myself, and I can lend a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, so to speak, to the club members; however, I can’t force people to change their opinions and beliefs, which is a very difficult realization to come to. If I know a GSA member is being discriminated against by his/her family because of their sexual orientation, there’s really nothing I can do besides report it to a counselor. I do believe that having a GSA at our school is highly beneficial though. Not only does it provide students a place to truly be themselves and speak openly about their personal issues, but it also shows the entire population of Heritage High School that we do not tolerate LGBT discrimination at our school.
A. Sheahen: Please talk about your knowledge of LGBT discrimination from your viewpoint as being an ally of the LGBT community in Heritage High School:
I feel very honored to be an adviser of the GSA at Heritage because it shows my beliefs without me having to say anything aloud in my classes. For example, I’ve had students from all different grade levels who aren’t even in GSA approach me to ask me about LGBT-related issues. It feels really good to know that students all over the school are aware that they have Mr. Warwick and I to talk to about issues that they may not be able to talk about with their other teachers. Other teachers at Heritage are also aware that we are advisers for GSA, so they will come to us with questions/concerns about their students who they think need assistance with LGBT-related issues. I think it really helps educators who are uncomfortable with certain conversations to have me and Mr. Warwick, who are seen as the go-to people who are knowledgeable about LGBT topics. In that way, we are allies to not only the students, but also the staff.
A. Sheahen: Please talk about your knowledge of LGBT discrimination from your viewpoint as being an educator in the classroom at Heritage High:
I am not really allowed to say, “I AM AN ALLY TO LGBTQ PEOPLE, AND I BELIEVE THAT LOVE IS LOVE, AND GAY MARRIAGE SHOULD BE LEGAL EVERYWHERE!” in my classes. So, instead, I have to show my students that I am an ally through my actions and my lessons. Every time I hear a discriminatory remark aimed towards the LGBTQ community, I make sure to correct the behavior and explain why it’s inappropriate. Without being too obvious about it, I try to be a little more protective of my students who I believe are LGBTQ and may be having a harder time fitting in. It’s very disappointing to hear nasty, discriminatory remarks in my classroom, but over my four years of teaching, I would definitely say students are becoming more open-minded and are more cognizant of how anti-homosexual comments can hurt others. Nowadays, I even hear the other students correcting their peers’ behaviors. For example, I recently heard a student say, “That’s so gay,” and another student responded with, “Dude… don’t say that. It’s 2017,” which made my day.