At Theatrefolk, we celebrate the theatre teachers who share their stories and continue to make theatre and the classroom a warm and wonderful place for all students.
A veteran teacher of 26+ years, Cynthia is a current high school theatre teacher, Thespian club sponsor, SAGA club sponsor and parent to three LGBTQ+ children.
“After putting up the show “She Kills Monsters,” and becoming a sponsor of our school’s SAGA club, my Southern Baptist church “home” called me in to “question” me regarding my “motives” and my teaching in my public school job. I immediately removed my (and my children’s) membership. After this, my youngest child felt comfortable enough to come out to me as transgender (AFAB). I am still very much in the midst of my deconstruction as I work to learn as much as I can and be as supportive as possible of my personal children as well as my LGBTQ+ students.”
1. What’s important to you in terms of supporting LGBTQ+ teens today in your classroom?
- RESPECT: NOT using their dead name (providing instructions so that SUBS don’t use their dead name either; using correct pronouns).
- Providing them with a safe space to express themselves.
- Allowing them to see themselves and/or characters that represent them both in plays/literature and on stage.
2. What is one thing you’d like to change in the drama classroom in terms of LGBTQ+
Freedom to utilize LGBTQ+ materials/topics without having to be “censored” and without having to provide 30 day in advance written notice to allow the option of “opting out.” This completely hampers my ability to have “teachable moments.” It also makes me paranoid when doing improv activities or sharing student-created writing — if a student brings up an LGBTQ+ subject and someone complains, will I be legally liable? I would love to see theatre teachers unite against such anti-LGBTQ+ legislations and actually have legal representation for us to prove that this is detrimental to both our students and our teaching.
3. What is something you want to share with teachers who have LGBTQ+ students
Regardless of whether or not you “understand” or “agree with” multiple genders or other LGBTQ+ issues, it is your responsibility and mandate as an educator to show respect and compassion to our LGBTQ+ students. Even when you make mistakes, most LGBTQ+ truly appreciate that a teacher is “trying.”
It is also important to seek out training for inclusivity/respecting diversity beyond what is offered at your school (if anything).
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