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Creating Safe Spaces for All Youth Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth CYFAR Conference May 2005 Lisa Phelps, Ph. D.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating Safe Spaces for All Youth Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth CYFAR Conference May 2005 Lisa Phelps, Ph. D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating Safe Spaces for All Youth Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth CYFAR Conference May 2005 Lisa Phelps, Ph. D. Extension Educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

2 Terminology GLBTQA: An acronym for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning individuals and their Allies. Bisexual: Someone who is emotionally and physically attracted to members of both sexes. Coming Out: When people admit their sexual or gender identity to themselves and/or others. A person who is not out may be said to be in the closet. Gay: A man who is emotionally and physically attracted to other men. This term is also sometimes used to describe homosexual women, but lesbian is often preferred. Heterosexual: A person who is emotionally and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex or gender. Some GLBTQ people refer to heterosexual people as straight. Homosexual: A person whose sexual orientation is towards a member of the same gender or sex. This term is mostly clinical, and rarely used by people when defining themselves. Generally homosexual is replaced by gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

3 Terminology Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally and physically attracted to other women. Queer: This word has been used in a negative way to describe gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or trans. people. Now gay, lesbian and trans. people often use the word in a positive way to include all people who are not straight. Transgender: Having a gender identity that is different from ones biological sex. Transgender often is used as an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of gender identities (e.g. drag queen/king, transsexual, androgyne, M2F, F2M). Intersex: A person born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system that is not considered standard for either male or female. Transsexual: A person who was born one sex (usually male or female) and who lives their life as the opposite sex. Sometimes people have surgery to change their bodies to fit their gender identity. These definitions were provided by the youth and staff at Outright in Portland, Maine, with a few modifications by the author based on educational experiences with teaching terminology.

4 Cass Model Identity Confusion - Wonder if he or she is gay or lesbian Identity Comparison - Accepts the possibility that he or she is gay or lesbian Identity Tolerance - Accepts the fact that he or she is gay. Identity Acceptance - More contact with gay culture - Increased contact with other gay people. Identity Pride - Immersed in gay life - Possible anger at heterosexual people Identity Synthesis - not an us-versus-them situation. - anger subsides - People who are not gay can be allies and can be trusted - More healthy and positive life. V. C. Cass, (1979), Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model, Journal of Homosexuality 4 (3):

5 DAugelli Human Development Model Exiting Heterosexual identity Developing a personal lesbian- gay-bisexual identity status Developing a lesbian-gay-bisexual social identity Recognition that a persons sexual orientation is not heterosexual. Develops a personal lesbian-gay-bisexual identity status that is their own. Develops and finds more community support and friendships.

6 DAugelli Human Development Model Becoming a lesbian- gay-bisexual offspring Developing a lesbian-gay-bisexual intimacy status Entering a lesbian gay-bisexual community Focuses on coming out with his or her biological family and dealing with the variety of issues and responses that result. While developing lesbian gay- bisexual intimacy status, many gay and lesbian couples are invisible, thus making it difficult for gays and lesbians to publicly acknowledge gay and lesbian relationships. Enters the lesbian-gay-bisexual community and becomes active in political and social settings. Source: A. R. DAugelli, Identity development and sexual orientation: Toward a model of lesbian, gay, and bisexual development, in E. J. Trickett and others (eds.), Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995),

7 How to Talk With Preschool-Age Children (3 to 5 Years) Children aged 3 to 5 ask a lot of questions and often express themselves through play and pretend. Keep answers to their questions simple and concrete. Avoid detailed or graphic explanations. Dont be surprised if pretending includes dressing up as the opposite sex. Remember that playing at things that are normally done by kids of the opposite sex is normal and healthy. Use picture books to help communicate ideas and feelings.

8 How to Talk With School-Age Children (6 to 12 Years) Children aged 6 to 12 see things in terms of how they relate to their own lives. Listen to see why the child wants to know what she is asking. Find out what the child wants to know as well as needs to know. Be prepared for more complicated questions as kids grow older. Talk openly and be as honest as possible. Work with the child to find answers to questions you are unsure of.

9 How to Talk With Teenagers (13 to 18 Years) Sexuality and expressing oneself as a boy or girl are major parts of adolescent lives. Peer opinions and actions are also highly valued by teens. Discuss anti-gay prejudice and model healthy behavior. Discourage harassment or violence. Listen carefully and help teens feel safe to talk about their feelings. If you know a teen who is gay, lesbian or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, tell them about support networks in the community. Source: Lynn Ponton, What Does Gay Mean? How to Talk with Kids about Sexual Orientation and Prejudice, National Mental Health Association

10 Tips for Professionals Who Work With GLBTQ Youth Dont be surprised when a youth comes out to you. Respect confidentiality. Be informed and examine your own biases. Know when and where to seek help. Maintain a balanced perspective. Understand the meaning of sexual orientation and gender identity. Deal with feelings first. Be supportive. Anticipate some confusion. Help, but do not force. Dont try to guess who is GLBTQ. Challenge homophobic remarks and jokes. Source: pflag.org

11 Ten Things Educators Can Do Do not assume heterosexuality. Guarantee equality. Create a safe environment. Diversify library and media holdings. Provide training for faculty and staff. Provide appropriate health care and education. Be a role model. Provide support for students. Reassess the curriculum. Broaden entertainment and extracurricular programs. Source: glsen.org

12 Establishing a Safe Classroom Space: Components of a Model Source: Phelps, 1999

13 National Resources Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) is a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and almost 500 affiliates in the United States. (www.pflag.org) Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Working to end anti-gay bias in schools The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, founded in 1990, is the largest national organization fighting anti-gay bias in K-12 public, private and parochial schools. (www.glsen.org) National Coming Out Project (www.hrc.org) Public education/support around coming out


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