At the local high school where I work as as a teacher for severely autistic children, Spirit Week is around the time of Halloween. In my first year at the school a young man wore a tutu and a full face of makeup that week. While walking down the halls, just by being himself, he intimidated a lot of the male students and got a lot of backlash. He also didn't take anything from anyone, so his response was often...really strong, to put it nicely. So I worked on guiding him into safe spaces with the help of our social workers. We guided him into responding in a more positive manner, and to use words instead of fists, or maybe respond with a wisecrack. I think that if you can make a joke out of something, if you can make them laugh, it goes even further. We worked on building him up so he could respond mentally and verbally to a situation, instead of physically, which is how a lot of our kids are taught to respond.
Because of his experience, we've also shined a lot of attention on issues connected to bullying LGBT people, such as suicide and depression. We've put up anti-bullying flyers around the school which show hate terms with a big red X through them. We've also had discussions and anti-bullying presentations. We started with students during their advisory lessons where we would go over what bullying looks like and what happens when you bully someone. Then we had conversations with coaches and teaching staff, saying every time someone uses a hate term that's an automatic detention, especially within athletics where it's common practice to use hate terms such as faggot, dyke, etc. on sports fields nationwide. We emphasize that they need to have a discussion with the students and explain to them the impact of the words that they're using and why it's so derogatory.
As a result, I think we're much more of an inclusive school. I think you should always strive for the better and our school does. You may not always have a student who is able to advocate for themselves. You may not always have a student who is going to be a strong personality. So you really have to make sure your school is a safe space for all kids, and especially in the LGBT community. Sexuality is such a growing and developing thing. We're just not recognizing the transgender issue on a national scale. When your kids can say I remember talking to my librarian, my teacher, my social worker about that, that can really change their understanding of the world. We also want to create a space for students who may not always identify as LGBTQ but are also allies. That's our goal. You want your kids to be able to respect everyone, and experience the best understanding and compassion and love and joy - all those wonderful things that make up why we love New Orleans.