If your child has told you that they have a 'queer' orientation, you may be wondering what the best school environment for them may be. Finding a supportive and accepting environment can ensure that they are able to achieve their full potential academically and socially. Here are some things to ask schools that you are considering.
Do they have a policy on supporting queer or LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer or Intersex) students and staff?
The rising number of children who are proudly claiming their identity in the queer spectrum can be heartwarming but can also be an adjustment for some schools and educators. Having written policies and procedures that describe how to deal with any issues that arise in any social interactions can be helpful. Many schools with a strongly accepting policy also involve their students in writing these policies. It can be well worth asking schools to show you their policies on LGBTQI students as well as asking them how they have generated the policies.
Have other queer students had a good experience at the school?
If you are a member of local support groups such as Pride you can often get some advice from other parents and ex-students on the school culture. You should be careful when you get this advice to weight your opinions to more recent accounts, as it can be hard for schools to turn around a reputation that they earn quickly even if they make a strong effort to turn around their culture. The school may even be able to put you in contact with current students who identify as queer to show how these people are experiencing the school culture.
Supportive peers can help to form a strong mentoring system to help students deal with challenges and give them a peer support network where they can get informal advice on any issues that might affect them personally or worry them more generally.
Independent schools are often well placed to deal with students with alternative lifestyles or people who identify as LGBTQI. They have more flexibility as they are not as strong driven by central offices and can make quick and sensible policy decisions to adapt to new situations. Many students find that this offers a much more supportive environment than the hands-off approach of public schools. If you want to know more about how an independent school may help your queer child, you should contact them for a confidential chat.