FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – On any high school campus there are students from all walks of life, and all ethnic groups, and efforts to be more culturally inclusive to make everyone feel welcomed are part of the campus environment.
Ysabel Oliva Math teacher at Hoover High School “I do a lot of group stuff so the kids get to know each other, learn about each other. even though I teach math it’s not always about the math.”
Oliva is also the advisor for the gender sexuality alliance club at Hoover High School in the Fresno unified school district and says she makes the effort to let lgbtq+ students know that they are accepted in her classroom.
I share with them my pronouns and my name, and then I asked them if they were comfortable sharing with me their pronouns, and what they like to be referred to as if it’s a different name than what’s on my role sheet.
Creating safe, supportive, and inclusive schools are what many districts are striving for campus culture director at Hoover, Cal Laflam teaches leadership and says there is a focus on making sure students’ diverse needs and voices are being heard.
Laflam says, “we’ve actually created a student voice committee, which we meet with representative populations on our campus and we hear their voices and we hear what they want to better improve our campus and to create opportunities of education for their cultures and their backgrounds.”
There is also the acknowledgment that some schools, teachers, and students lack awareness of other groups. Jim Yovino, superintendent of Fresno County schools says attending a workshop on educating LGBTQ + students showed him that more can be done.
Jim Yovino, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools says “we are on the front lines of providing service and support to our students in our schools and it’s really simple for us as educators.
Every child, every day needs to be in a safe place, and in order to do that you have to have some understanding of what our kids are going through every day.”
Yovino set up a workshop for educators from around the county bringing in speakers from trans family support services. founder, Kathie Moehling, says 80 percent of LGBTQ+ students still face bullying at school and campuses need to be safe places.
Kathie Moehling trans family support services “our kids spend so much of their waking time at school and if they don’t feel safe to be their selves and safe to be able to share information about their identity with the people they’re spending all of these waking hours with it’s going to be very challenging for these kids to succeed.”
Yovino says it was important that he provide training to his own staff before reaching out to the school district he says this is not about trying to change anyone’s personal beliefs but about students.
“This is about really understanding that while they’re teaching, while they are in front of a class, while they are there they are supportive of all children.”