M.A.R.#5: Queer the Curriculum

  • Middle School
Kristin Leong

Welcome to a special Pride month installment of Mostly Appropriate Resources. My hope with this post is that these resources contribute to safer classrooms for all students and all teachers. 

This column was inspired by this list.


  1. Gay, Roxane. A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories. The Rumpus. July 27, 2012.
  2. Skinner, Lindsay. When they ask ‘Miss, are you a lesbian?’ I tell them yes. The Guardian. June 16, 2015.
  3. Chin, Staceyann. #WeAreOrlando speech. June 14, 2016. Video and transcript.
  4. Balk, Gene. Hate crime reports against blacks, LGBT people double in Seattle. The Seattle Times. June 24, 2016.
  5. Tillett Wright, i.O.. Self Evident Truths.
  6. Williams, Saul. Talk to Strangers. 2004.
People Standing at Pride Parade
Teacher Leader Kristin Leong and Assoc. Creative Director Keri Zierler collaborate to spread some inclusive Advertising For Good while marching at Seattle Pride with the WEA. June 26, 2016.

Grade Level: middle school, high school, teachers

Subject: LGBTQ Inclusivity

Queer the Curriculum Resources


Participants will…

1) Consider the value and risks for LGBTQ teachers to be out at work.

2) Reflect on the Orlando massacre and begin a conversation about how a community can recover and grow following tragedy.

3) Analyze data comparing rates of violence against communities in Seattle based on race, sexuality, and gender expression.

4) Appreciate the diversity of the LGBTQ community.

5) Consider the role of art in fueling conversation and empathy.

TPEP: Criterion 5: Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment.

Key Arena Stands
Key Arena during the Seattle Storm’s Pride tip-off game. 49 seats remained empty and covered with black #OrlandoUnited shirts to honor the victims of the Pulse massacre. June 24, 2016.


When homophobes showed up to spread hate at last Sunday’s Pride Parade in Seattle, the crowds fought back with chants of LOVE WINS.

On June 22nd Michael Volz was hospitalized after being attacked on Capitol Hill. The attacker used transphobic slurs and announced “happy pride” before grabbing Volz by the throat.

On June 12th the deadliest massacre in modern American history killed 49 people in a gay nightclub on Latino night.

One year ago the White House lit up in rainbow lights after the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a human right.

Forty-seven years ago the police raided one gay bar too many and a revolution led by drag queens, many of them queers of color, broke out in Greenwich Village and spread out into the world.

Violence against LGBTQ people is on the rise.

Support for LGBTQ equality is on the rise.

There is still so much work to be done to make the world a safe space. Safe classrooms are a start.

Lesbian Activist, Poet, and soon-to-be high school English teacher Shae Savoy prepares for Seattle Pride with Lavender Menace.

RESOURCE 1: Pop Culture AnalysisBad Feminist Roxane Gay compares the coming out stories of congressman Edward Schrock, journalist Anderson Cooper, and musician Frank Ocean while considering the responsibilities and consequences for LGBTQ-identified public figures. Although the essay does not address teachers specifically, the implications for LGBTQ teachers as public figures are interesting.

People Sitting At Park
Lavender Menace activists Lacy Draper and Megan Murphy at Cal Anderson park. June 25, 2016.

RESOURCE 2Personal Narrative. Teacher Lindsay Skinner on what it’s like to be out as a lesbian with suggestions on what allies can do to make schools more inclusive for LGBTQ students and staff. Skinner is white and traditionally feminine-presenting.

I feel I have normalized homosexuality for [students]. I’m not the lesbian teacher: I’m a teacher who happens to be a lesbian. And nobody cares.

Teachers Marching at Pride
Led by NEA Director and former teacher Shannon McCann, 2016 marked the first year the Washington Education Association marched at Seattle Pride. Crowds cheered YAY TEACHERS WE LOVE YOU as we passed.

RESOURCE 3: Rally call. If anyone can love us through our Orlando grief and turn our mourning into an uprising it is the powerhouse that is Staceyann Chin.

RESOURCE 4: Concrete Details. Data guru Gene Balk lays out alarming evidence of violent homophobia and racism in friendly, liberal Seattle.

…both black and LGBT people were more than twice as likely to be victims of a hate crime or incident in Seattle as any other group — and at least 50 times more likely to be targeted than whites.

RESOURCE 5: Queer Faces. Thousands of portraits of Americans who identify as “anything but 100% straight.” This project by i.O. Tillett Wright is a powerful reminder that LGBTQ people look just like your teachers/bartenders/doctors/baristas/neighbors/friends/etc/etc/etc and come in every color, gender, and haircut.

Self Evident Truths from Self Evident Truths on Vimeo.

RESOURCE 6: Poetry. This 2004 spoken word piece from Saul Williams is still everything. Maybe it matters that Williams said this recently about finding his queer-self through David Bowie and Prince but maybe it doesn’t. And then there’s that turns out God is gay double entendre. This poem is an invitation to talk about how scary it is to take all of our fear, rage, and confusion and turn it in to conversation until we get it that connecting with each other is the only way we’re all going to heal, survive, and evolve.

Happy Pride. All month. All year. All the time. #TeachPride #AllStudentsAllTeachers


UPDATE: Kristin will be facilitating a QUEER THE CURRICULUM Socratic seminar workshop on Saturday, Oct 8 to fuel conversation about inclusivity for LGBT teachers and students in schools. And it’s FREE. All are welcome. More info here. Register here. Space is limited. 

  • Teacher Leadership
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