Not only is it Banned Books Week, it’s also Ally Week, GLSEN’s annual program “where LGBTQ K-12 students and LGBTQ educators lead the conversation on what they need from their allies in school.” Even those of us already in the LGBTQ community would do well to think about what this means and how we can help. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind.
- First, no matter which letters of LGBTQ+++ we identify with, we can each be allies to those who identify differently, taking the time to learn about what challenges they may face and asking them how we can best support them.
- Remember that LGBTQ allyship is only part of a bigger picture of allyship that includes race, nationality, socioeconomic class, physical abilities, immigration status, and much more. Our intersectional identities may mean that we identify with some people in certain ways, while being more privileged than them in others (and thus in a position to be allies), and less privileged than them (and needing their allyship) in still others.
- Children of LGBTQ parents, even if they don’t identify as LGBTQ themselves, may not feel like “allies” (which implies an outsider status) to the LGBTQ community. Having grown up immersed in it, they may feel a part of it. (See Abigail Garner’s book, Families Like Mine, on growing up “culturally queer” even if one is not, and this piece by Kellen Kaiser, among others.) We should be aware of this in our interactions with them.
- Finally, we can help our allies be allies by pointing them towards resources that may help, such as GLSEN’s Actions for Allies page or my list of LGBTQ Back-to-School Resources.
May this week be part of a year-round process of learning and allied action for us all.
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