- Peer-to-Peer LGBTQ+ Education in the Health Classroom:Oregon High School's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club Educates Classmates
Demographics of Oregon High School and GSA
Oregon High School serves about 1,136 students in grades nine through twelve. There is about an 11 percent minority population, and all socioeconomic levels are present. Our GSA is a majority white group of students from all grade levels. We are an active group and do many community service, fundraising, social, and educational activities throughout the year. One of the most impactful projects is when GSA students teach their peers about gender and sexuality in health class.
This activity is important to us because we get a chance to stop discrimination early and give our peers the information necessary to have an educated opinion on the subject. People are afraid of what they don't know, and even though LGBTQ+ issues have become more visible in today's society, most youth are not very educated in specific issues, terms, and current events. The health presentations give us the ability to educate our peers further not only on things they might have heard of but also topics they might be less familiar with. By reaching them at a young age we can educate without having to fight through the heavier preconceptions, stereotypes, and ignorance that adults sometimes carry.
We try to cover the basics of every letter in the acronym in LGBTQ+. It's hard with only forty-five minutes, so we really emphasize the misconceptions about being gay, trans, etc. We start by introducing ourselves and why we're there, explain our preferred gender pronouns, and administer a pre-test.
Group Matching Pre-Test and Myth/Fact Activities
An example of our pre-test is printed on page 81. This collaborative activity gets people talking and learning about key vocabulary words, engages the audience, and eases students into sharing their ideas and questions. This can be an uncomfortable subject for some students, and giving students the opportunity to work in groups creates a safe and supportive atmosphere in which students can ask and learn. [End Page 80]
The myth/fact activity helps us spread awareness of key LGBTQ+ issues and misconceptions. Instead of silently wondering what is true or not, we give students another opportunity to work together and increase understanding. This is another opportunity for us to educate peers and adults who hold misconceptions about LGBTQ+ issues.
The Spectrum Activity
The spectrum activity was our answer to the lack of differentiation and acceptance of different sexualities and genders. By using the example of popular pets before moving into gay/straight and boy/girl spectrums, students are able to understand the idea of the spectrum in a nonthreatening way and apply that understanding to the more difficult concepts of nonbinary gender and sexuality. We place four signs on each of the four classroom walls that say "cats," "dogs," "both," and "neither." We tell students to stand wherever they want in the room that best reflects how they feel about cats and dogs. We make sure to point out that people are standing everywhere in the room, not in a straight line. Some people have a strong preference one way or the other, while others find they can't commit to any defined category. Once everyone sits down, the "cat" and "dog" sign are flipped over to reveal "gay" and "straight" written underneath, then "boy" and "girl." The connection between one's preferences and one's gender identity and sexuality expression are discussed with the class. The point is to show that people can be anywhere along a spectrum of gender and attraction.
Directions: Some of these words you may already know or can figure out!
Match the term with the definition.
Don't know the definition? Don't worry!
Give it your best guess—you probably know more than you think.
|LGBTQIA+||An individual whose assigned biological sex is different from the gender with which they identify.|
|Gender Identity||An individual who has characteristics of both sexes in...|