How tutors are making their lessons more inclusive 🌈

Posted 17th June 2021

Pride Month is a great time to celebrate the triumphs achieved by the LGBTQ+ community – but as well as getting stuck into the revelry and rainbow flags, it’s important to acknowledge the steps we still need to take. When so much of our young lives are spent in classrooms (virtual or otherwise), it’s important to feel represented and included. Therefore, there’s a responsibility for teachers, tutors and mentors to actively help foster these types of environments. Off the back of an article written by one of our brilliant tutors earlier this year, we decided to ask more of you how you create an inclusive classroom…

Lauren, Classical Music tutor

“I tutor classical music – theory and history. LGBT+ people have made enormous contributions in this area, but their identities are so often erased in discussions of their work. Most of my students know that Tchaikovsky was gay, and some know about Benjamin Britten, but hardly any of my students know Saint-Saens, Lully, Copland, Bernstein and many others were LGBT, though they may cover their music in class. For many of these composers, the intersection of art and identity are really important, so I open up discussion with my students on this intersection whenever it’s appropriate.”

Ims, English tutor

“As an English tutor working to a strict GCSE syllabus, it can feel a little prescriptive trying to diversify students’ learning and introduce them to a wide range of stories. We all know A Christmas Carol, and we’ve covered all the Power and Conflict angles inside and out. But whether it’s Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (neither particularly a pair of role models!), there’s a distinct lack of LGBTQ+ content swimming around the English GCSE world.

This is why the opportunities presented by English Language are so precious. We’re able to share a huge range of stories and perspectives, as long as we stick within the question structures and cover all the skills needed – analysing news articles about LGBTQ+ progress and outstanding achievement in the community, creative writing discussing LGBTQ+ issues, and delving into the beautiful writing of LGBTQ+ authors and dissecting them to see what’s at play technically. If it’s got words, it’s useful to analyse and practice our GCSE skills on – so why not make it a story not told so often?”

Dale, History tutor

“Tutoring humanities subjects always provides an opportunity to diversify our content. Including the lives of LGBT+ people is essential to creating an accurate picture of the past. Establishing how gender has been created over time allows students to question where our society has come from and where it can go. Yet shoe-horning in topics isn’t always possible and inclusion has to come in a way that is relevant. An intersectional approach to history provides a much more developed worldview for students. One cannot talk about gender or sexuality and ignore race or class. Every facet of human identity comes from somewhere and by including these in history lessons we allow students to fully comprehend their world.”

Grace, English tutor

“Students will get the best out of their learning if they are in an environment that they feel comfortable and included in. Therefore, it is vital for us to create a safe space for them where their confidence can grow. I do this by greeting my students initially by announcing my pronouns, and letting them know to message me privately if I use any incorrect pronouns, so I can rectify this mistake. I Incorporate LGBTQ+ into my subject – something as simple as mentioning an important LGBTQ+ historical figure or author related to your subject can add to the overall feeling of acceptance and inclusivity. I also try to avoid heteronormative language, for example using ‘his/her wife’ or ‘her/his husband’. This normalises LGBTQ+ relationships and includes them in everyday dialogue that they are often missed out of. These may appear as minor actions, however, these simple signs of acceptance and understanding can make a difference.”

To find more tips from your fellow tutors about this (or anything!), head over to our Facebook Forum!

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