Helping Create An Inclusive Environment 

We are PROUD to serve our students and to be a safe space for individuals of all races, abilities, ethnicities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, immigration statuses, religions, and backgrounds. We accept, support, and celebrate all students and families. We know that LGBTQ-inclusive organizations and institutions benefit all students. Seeing LGBTQ identities valued inspires empathy, understanding, and respect. Please take some time today to read about how you can best engage with our LGBTQ+ students.

We hope to help volunteers ensure that all students feel safe, seen, and capable of success; to ensure that the Breakthrough climate fosters open and respectful dialogue among all students and volunteers, and to prepare youth to engage and thrive within our diverse society.

Here are three tips for engaging with youth to create an inclusive environment: 

A very simple way to do this is to state your pronouns when you first meet. And, ask the student for theirs.

Sometimes pronouns will match gender presentation and sometimes they vary from cultural expectations and norms.  For example, you might read someone as male, but that person might use she or they pronouns.  Asking folks in the LGBTQ community is a sign that you are an ally and a safer person to be around.

  1. This practice particularly benefits trans and gender non-conforming students. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that when parents, teachers, and other adults used their chosen name that trans-youth experienced a lower rate of depression and suicidal ideation.

  2. If you misgender a student, (misgendering is an instance of intentionally or unintentionally referring to a student by the wrong pronoun).  Do: apologize Don’t: over-apologize  Just quickly correct yourself and move on.  Your goal is to let the student know you caught the mistake without bringing too much attention to it. 

    1. Example: Max is going to demonstrate the correct way to use a bunsen burner.  She, excuse me, they, are going to pick it up…

    2. You can read more about creating an inclusive environment with words here.

  3. Examine your own biases and recognize that it’s okay to be uncomfortable at times.  Please know that a person does not choose to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual— they just are.