{Excerpted from the Fall 1995 "Safe Schools" Report, Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, POB 16776, Seattle WA 98116, 206-233-9136.}

  1. SCHOOL BOARDS AND ADMINISTRATORS: Enact and enforce sexual harassment and personnel policies that explicitly include sexual orientation. Publish these policies prohibiting anti-gay harassment in the student handbook. Announce these policics in staff meetings and student assemblies, when you discluss other kinds of sexual harassment.

    For more information and sample policies, see Appendix D, and contact

    1. Darcy Lees, Program Supervisor of the Office for Equity Education for the Office of the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) (206) 753-2560
    2. Jerry Painter, Staff Attorney for the Washington Education Association: from Seattle, call (206) 941-6700; from anywhere in Washington State, call toll-free 1-800-622-3393.
  2. EDUCATORS AND PARENTS: Intervene when children, youth or other adults use names such as "fag," "butch," "queer," "dyke," "homo," or "sissy" in your presence, as you would with racial slurs. Let them know that "limp wrist" gestures and jokes are not amusing, that they cause pain and embarrassment and are founded in stereotypes.

    For ways to intervene and discuss bigotry with children, read

    1. ''Teaching Young Children to Resist Bias" (50 cents) item #565 from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1834 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
    2. "Talking With Your Child About Prejudice" (single copy free with a legal size SASE) item #068 from Network Publications, PO Box 1830, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1830
  3. EDUCATORS AND PARENTS: Teach young people the skills to protect themselves and to intervene when they see harassment.

    For training or workshops for educators, parents or youth (recommendations 2 or 3):

    1. Arlis Stewart, of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Youth Program at the American Friends Service Committee, serving all of Washington State (206)632-0500, or
    2. Beth Reis, of the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, serving King County (206) 296-4755,or
    3. Joan Huayma Tuckcr, of the Northwest Center for Equity and Diversity Training at Edmonds Community College, serving all of Washington State: (206)640-l085, or
    4. Liz Little, of YouthCare, serving King County: (206)282-9907, ext 258.
    For videos that provide a human face to the issue of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth, see:
    1. "Gay Youth" ($50 for high schools and youth-serving profcssionals) from Bay Area Network of Gay and Lesbian Educators (BANGLE), PO Box 391025, Mountain View, CA 94039
    2. "Speaking For Ourselves" (free preview) Intermedia toll free 1-800-553-8336
    3. "Straiglht From the Heart" ($44.95) Motivational Media (213)876-3700
  4. EDUCATORS AND PARENTS: When you talk about diversity, civil rights and multi-cultural issues, include lesbian and gay examples. Teach accurate information and respectful messages about sexual minority people to children and youth of all ages.

    For helpful, non-attacking perspectives on prejudice, read:

    1. "The Future of White Men and Other Diversity Dilemmas" by Joan Steinau Lester, Conari Press, 1994
    2. "Beyond Acceptance: Parents of Lesbians and Gays Talk About Their Experience" by Carolyn Griffin and Marian and Arthur Wirth, St. Martin's Press, 1986
  5. EDUCATORS AND PARENTS: Communicate that you are safe to talk to. Teachers can communicate this by their use of inclusive language and their respect for all questions. Counselors can have gay-affirming books on their office shelves. Nurses can hang posters that show their willingness to address the issue. Parents can say, "Whether you are happy or hurting, in love or in danger, l hope you'll come to me. I'll always stand by you."

    For posters conveying your caring about the issue, call:

    1. Asian Pacific AIDS Council: (206) 467-0884
    2. Wingspan Ministry, St. Paul Lutheran Church: (612) 224-3371
    3. Northwest Center for Equity and Diversity Training: (206) 640-1085
    For support and a place to ask questions, call:
    1. Seattie Counseling Service for Sexual Minorities (noon to 9, M-F): in Seattle, call (206) 323 0220; from elsewhere in Washington, call toll-free: 1-800-5-B-PROUD
    2. Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG): in Seattle, call (206) 325-7724; elsewhere in Washington, call 1-800-5-B-PROUD, which can in turn give you the phone number of your local chapter
    3. Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers' Network: GLSTN/WA, l 202 E. Pike St. #569, Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 548-0662, or e-mail the national office at [email protected]

HARASSMENT POLICY IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES The Framingham School Committee is committed to safeguarding the right of all students to learn in an environment that is free from all kinds of sexual harassment. Therefore, the committee condemns and prohihits all unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature because such conduct interferes with School performance and creates and intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.

Guidelines for Recognizing and Dealing With Sexual Harassment:

Definition: Unwanted sexual attention from peers, teachers, administrators or anyone you must interact with in order to pursue "school activities. Physical or verhal conduct of a sexual nature that makes the environment of Framingham Middle School intimidating, hostile or offensive to the student. SEXUAL HARASSMENT INCLUDES DEROGATORY REMARKS AND BEHAVIOR DIRECTED TOWARDS OTHERS BASED ON THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. The range of behaviors includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Display or circulation of written materials or pictures derogatory to a gender or sexual orientation.
  2. Writings placed on school property.
  3. Uninvited remarks and gestures.
  4. Unwanted sexual comments.
  5. Spreading sexual gossip.
  6. Pressure for sexual activity.
  7. Unwanted physical contact such as touching, pinching, patting, rubbing, etc.
  8. Homophobic behavior i.e. gay and lesbian harassment.
Complaints of sexual harassment will be promptly investigated and immediate action will be taken to resolve complaints. No individual will suffer reprisals for r reporting incidents of sexual harassment or making complaints. The Framingham School Committee prohibits retaliation by an employee or student against a person who has made allegations of sexual harassment. An individual who is found to be responsible for sexual harassment will he subject to appropriate action up to and including exclusion from school and termination of employment. The severity of the disciplinary action will he based upon the circumstances of the infraction.

Notification Procedures: If you have been sexually harassed, you have the right to file a formal complaint. The Framingham Middle school Administration recommends the following procedure as the most direct, effective, and confidential approach. You may initiate or terminate this Procedure at your discretion, but realize the only way to solve the problem of sexual harassment is to confront the behavior.

What to do if you are Sexually Harassed: The following suggested choices will help you deal with sexual harassment. Choose the option that you feel most comfortable with:

Choice #1: Tell the harasser, "Your behavior is bothering me. STOP IT"' This may be difficult. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe confronting the harasser, you may choose another option .

Choice #2: Fill out the "Sexual Harassment Complaint Form" found in the Crisis Center, Guidance Office, Grade Office or Library. Then choose an advocate from the designated list who will help you fill out the complaint form and then deliver it to the alleged Harasser for you. All parties involved will meet to resolve the situation. All procedures will be kept in confidence and the complainant will be protected fiom retaliation.

Choice #3: If the situation is not resolved and/or retaliation has occurred, the complaint will be forwarded to the principal for administrative action.

Choice #4: The complainant has the option of seeking outside legal counsel for a violation of Title IX.



This blueprint, developed through a cooperative effort of Massachusetts teachers, administrators, and educational experts, offers schools concrete actions to take as they begin to work to develop a safe and productive environment for their lesbian/gay students and staff. In thinking this process over, we have developed the following priorities to be addressed.


Appropriate policies are the basis for any attempts to make schools inclusive. Public commitments must be made that insure that schools are safe places, free from discrimination and harassment, for all people. We recommend that all systems adopt and publish policies which specifically address these issues with regards to sexual orientation.


School professionals must be equipped with the knowledge and strategies necessary to address lesbian/gay issues in an informed, sensitive, and thoughtful manner. We recommend extensive anti-homophobia training, as outlined in this blueprint, for all staff that come in contact with students.


Isolation is often the biggest problem faced by lesbian/gay youth. We urge the development of appropriate counseling and support group services within the school setting.


The classroom is the heart of the school experience. Curriculum must address lesbian/gay issues in all departments, so that students see the fullness of the lesbian/gay experience.


Schools are part of a larger community which must understand their goals if they are to be successful. Parents and citizens need to be provided with information on anti-homophobia programs and opportunities to educate themselves on issues of sexual orientation.

The bulk of this blueprint offers specific recommendations within each of these general frameworks. We urge systems to disseminate these guidelines to the appropriate professionals, that action might be taken immediately.


Policy is at the heart of school life, and the starting point for any educational process. In the absence of written policies, issues and behaviors often go unaddressed, as professional lack the clear sense of what their mandate is. This has been especially true with regards to gay & lesbian issues, where staff have been fearful to act that they overstep hidden or unspoken boundaries. In order to empower staff to deal appropriately with lesbian/gay issues, we recommend the adoption of the following policies:

  1. The inclusion of "sexual orientation" as a protected category in nondiscrimination policies, in order to insure the just treatment of lesbian/gay people in the school setting.
  2. Policies that protect the rights of teachers to discuss sexuality in an inclusive, accurate, and specific manner.
  3. Clear procedures that deal with incidents of homophobic harassment, which include clear definitions and penalties for such behavior.
  4. The inclusion of lesbian/gay issues within appropriate diversity or multi-culturalism policies.
  5. Policies which mandate the delivery of services to lesbian/gay youth and insures equal access to educational opportunity.
  6. Policies which reflect the diversity of family structure in a way that does not assume a heterosexist, two-parents-of-the-opposite-sex structure.
  7. Clear guidelines for professionals to follow in dealing with anti-gay epithets and speech.

It is inconceivable to work on the issue of homophobia in a school without first conducting a substantive staff development program on the subject. Teachers, administrators, and other staff must be sensitized and educated about the issues of homosexuality before any school can be expected to take action to dispel homophobia, educate students about homosexuality, or support gay and lesbian students, staff, and parents. And no activity in the school can be effective without first creating a climate of support for that activity among the adults in the building. On the contrary, any school program that lacks a critical mass of adult acceptance among school-workers is doomed to a short life.

Schools must commit to a long range staff development plan. An anti-homophobia workshop is not a one-shot curative. Follow-up activities over a period of months or years will renew the school's commitment as well as refine its goals. These initial workshops are merely the first step in breading the silence and reversing centuries of ignorance and harm.


The goals of the workshop are as follows:

  1. to overcome participants' reluctance and/or discomfort in discussing, within the school setting, issues of sexuality
  2. to define and discuss the terminology of the subject of homosexuality
  3. to acquaint participants with the basic facts of the homosexual orientation
  4. to explore participants' existing attitudes toward homosexuality
  5. to help participants to relate to the circumstances and experience of gay and lesbian people
  6. to help participants to see how homophobia is related to other forms of bigotry
  7. to provide participants with models and resources for intervening in instances of homophobic behavior
  8. to provide participants with models and resources for changing homophobic attitudes
  9. to acquaint participants with the special needs of gay and lesbian students or students struggling with issues of their sexuality
  10. to provide participants with models and resources for responding to the needs of gay and lesbian students or students struggling with issues of their sexuality.
  11. to create a safe environment for gay and lesbian staff to come out

Schools systems must identify, develop, and advertise the existence of appropriate support services for lesbian/gay youth. These services are essential for overcoming the isolation and alienation that inhibits the performance of these youth, and helps retain them in the school setting so that they get the education to which they are entitled. These services fall under three general headings; we recommend the identification of a resources person in each system to oversee these areas.


    Youth must be aware that gay-affirmative counseling is available to them as they work through their own identity issues. To that end we recommend:

    1. All counselors and social workers receive appropriate gay-positive training on issues of sexual orientation from professionals in their field.
    2. The availability of such counseling must be made known to students through publicity that directly addresses issues of sexual orientation (posters, books, etc.)
    3. Appropriate referrals be made for youth whose needs cannot be met within the school's counseling resources.

    Students are best supported by other students. Many systems have successfully instituted in-house support groups. We urge that staff be appointed to facilitate groups that address the needs of:

    1. Self-identified lesbian/gay youth
    2. Students unsure of or questioning their own sexuality
    3. Children of lesbian/gay families
    4. Lesbian/gay parents
    5. Heterosexual students who are supportive of their lesbian/gay peers

    Youth and their families need to have access to resources, both within schools and from the outside community, that provide accurate information and appropriate support on lesbian/gay issues. We recommend:

    1. The establishment of a resource room or drop-in center which contains libraries of books, videos, pamphlets, and the like for students and parents to use at their own discretion.
    2. A well-researched and publicized guide to resources in the local community, including community-based lesbian/gay youth groups, P-FLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays) chapters, and the like.
In the end, it is the classroom where learning takes place. If students, both heterosexual and homosexual, are to emerge with an accurate view of lesbian and gay people, this view must be integrated wherever appropriate within the traditional academic program. Towards that end, we offer the following suggestions.


It is in the younger years that students form their impressions of lesbian and gay people. It is imperative, then, that they learn about lesbian/gay issues in an age-appropriate way from the beginning of their schooling. To help facilitate this, we recommend:

  1. Schools acknowledge and support self-identified lesbian/gay families within the community.
  2. Counteracting gender and sexuality-based stereotypes by providing opportunities for play, dress, and behavior which is authentic to the individual rather than conforming to gender role stereotypes.
  3. Identifying and discussing those stereotypes when they occur in student behavior, literature, or the like.
  4. Present lesbian/gay culture in contexts other than sexuality, as in literature and arts.
  5. Make students aware of real-life situations which demonstrate the diversity of opportunities for romance, family structure, and other contexts in which students will find themselves during their lifespan.
  6. Develop consensus on the vocabulary and nature of discussions professionals should use when addressing issues of sexual orientation with youth.
  7. Support appropriate expressions of same sex and opposite sex relationships and physical affection.
*Note: Many elementary and middle school teachers may find the discipline-specific recommendation in the upper school section to be useful when they plan specific lessons.


The autonomy of academic departments and the segregated nature of the classroom experience means that each upper-school teacher must devise ways that are discipline-specific to address lesbian/gay issues within their lessons. Below are suggestions targeting individual academic fields.


  1. The sexuality and sexual identity of authors must be addressed rather than ignored, with teachers analyzing how these factors affected the author's work.
  2. Works by self-identified lesbian/gay authors should be included within the curriculum.
  3. Works by lesbian/gay writers already within the curriculum but not recognized in this fashion must be re-evaluated to account for the impact of sexuality upon the author's work. (Example such as Walt Whitman and Virginia Woolf)
  4. Reading choices should reflect the diversity of the lesbian/gay community as well as an appropriate gender balance.
  5. Observations and themes concerning lesbian/gay people in works by non-gay authors should be addressed.
  6. Students should be given opportunities for self-expression, such as journals, in order that they might explore their own ideas on this theme.
  1. Teachers should explain how sexual identities have been understood in different cultures and time periods, reflecting that neither the modern notions of "gay" and "straight", nor the current homophobic climate, are historical constants.
  2. The experience of lesbian/gay people should be addressed within each time period of any course.
  3. Students must be made aware of significant contributions made by lesbian/gay individuals to world history.
  4. Students must understand the emergence of a lesbian and gay identity and community in the l9th and 2Oth centuries.
  5. The lesbian/gay movement should be covered within the context of other social movements of the modern era.
  6. Current events dealing with lesbian/gay issues should be addressed.
  7. Teachers should avoid the use of heterosexist language when the sexuality of individuals is not known or at issue.

Foreign language units beginning in advanced levels should include materials (dialogues, literatures, films, and the like) dealing with:

  1. Alternative family structures (important in vocabulary introduction)
  2. The role and depiction of sexuality in the histories of other societies.
  3. The experience of lesbian/gay authors and how this influenced selections students are reading by those authors.

Mathematics teachers should use subject-appropriate applications of lesbian/gay issues, such as:

  1. The use of same-sex couples in word problems.
  2. The use of gay/lesbian-specific situations in explaining mathematical procedures (example: If 10,000 people marched in the Gay Pride March in 1980 and 25,000 in 1992, what was the average rate of increase?)
  3. Incorporating historical and social information when it pertains to mathematics (example: pink triangles, mathematician Alan Turing, etc.)

Regardless of the content of their discipline all science teachers have a contribution to make in anti-homophobia education. Of course teachers of the hard sciences will have less occasion to relate sexuality to their subjects; however they can do some things.


  1. Teachers may present some of the latest research and theory on the biological etiology of homosexuality.
  2. Teachers may present examples of same-gender sexual behavior among other species.
  3. Teachers may present the scientific facts about Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and its transmission in the context of explaining how AIDS is not a gay disease.
  4. Teachers may explain the biology of hermaphroditism and trans-sexuality, emphasizing the differences between these and the homosexual orientation.
  1. Mention the sexuality of great figures in science. (E.g.., Leonardo DeVinci, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alan Turing.)
  2. Use situations from the lives of gay and lesbian people when framing hypothetical problems.
  1. Visual arts teachers should encourage students to explore issues of sexual identity and orientation in their work and future work of other artists by stressing the importance of autobiography in the image and object making process.
  2. Students should be exposed to a variety of lesbian and gay artists and the issues their work explores in a variety of media.
  3. Teachers should develop studio and classroom projects that allow students to explore issues of sexual identity and cultural heritage within themselves, throughout a Continuum of history, and across a broad spectrum of cultures.
  1. Performing arts teachers should acknowledge the work of lesbian/gay artists and discuss the artists' sexuality in shaping his/her work.
  2. Repertoires should incorporate and acknowledge works by Self-identified lesbian/gay artists.
  3. Students should be encouraged to explore performance opportunities dealing with lesbian/gay issues.
  4. Performances with lesbian/gay content in the community should be publicized to students, who may not have access to such culture within the mainstream media.
  1. Students should be encouraged to pursue vocational choices which feel authentic to them rather than ones which stereotypically go to a particular gender or type of person.
  2. The reality of discrimination in the work-place should be addressed, with students being made aware of their legal rights and strategies they might employ in coping with this reality.
  3. Students should be provided with lesbian/gay role models into a variety of professions, who might serve as mentors for those seeking information on work environments in specific work-place settings.

Collections must be diversified, with age-appropriate works addressing lesbian/gay issues in the following genres:

  1. Health/sexuality information.
  2. History.
  3. Fiction.
  4. Periodicals and newspapers.

Schooling takes place within the larger context of family and community life. As with any in-school program, the success of an anti-homophobia initiative depends on an outreach and execution effort which conveys to the community the need for the program. To facilitate this understanding, we recommend:

  1. Schools should inform parents about anti-homophobia programs at the school. In particular, schools should provide clear explanations and rationale for these programs to all parents.
  2. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTA, PTO, etc.) should put lesbian and gay issues on their agendas, providing information workshops for their members.
  3. Schools should make a greater effort to acknowledge the growing number of lesbian/gay families, whose adults could play a vital role in educating the community on their needs.
  4. As suggested in Part 3, support groups and/or referral services for support should be available to both lesbian/gay parents and the parents of lesbian/gay youth.
  5. Towns should sponsor public forums for the discussion of issues such as race, gender, and sexual orientation within the school system, inviting interested staff and students to participate in the discussion.
  6. School and other officials (such as town librarians) should make accurate information available for parents who wish to educate themselves on issues of sexual orientation.
Return to the Handbook Table of Contents

Last updated 2/12/96 by Jean Richter, [email protected]