The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week

This has been a very “full” month, but the teacher in me just couldn’t let Pride Month pass without at least one post! Also, I did an analysis recently, and realized I haven’t been writing about this topic nearly often enough! So I’m brushing off my “teacher hat” to ask: is your school safe for ALL students?

On a "pride" style rainbow background the words in black read, "Gay pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn't a straight pride movement, be thankful you don't need one."

No, gun violence, frightening as it is, isn’t my “safe schools” topic for today. That’s because it’s not the only–or at all the most prevalent–life-threatening hazard lurking in today’s schools. Yes, life-threatening. Have you seen the suicide numbers? 

Even when they aren’t killing themselves in despair, LGBTQIA+ Youth too often face a drumbeat of hatred, denigration and even outright violence every day, in school, at home, or on the street. That’ll wear a person down real fast. Especially when they’re still just beginning to figure out who they are.

This image is an infographic from GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. it reads: "Schools are unsafe and unwelcoming for the majority of LGBT students. 65% heard homophobic remarks like "fag" or "dyke" frequently or often. 30% missed at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. 85% were verbally harassed in the past year. Learn more in GLSEN's latest National School Climate Survey at"

An ongoing battle

Creating safe spaces for these kids is an ongoing and age-old battle. My art teacher mother fought to protect her LGBT students back when I was a kid. I did all I could to make my classrooms safe zones. But as long as there’s ignorance, intolerance, and hatred being taught, teachers who are allies are the first, and absolutely critical, line of defense.

This image consists of a quote from the NCTE Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Advisory Committee. It says: "Grounded in our own classroom experiences, we aim to provide a pathway for imagining and creating classrooms where the lives of LGBTQIA+ students, families, and educators are honored." The words are reversed in white out of a turquoise background, over a series of rainbow-reminiscent vertical color stripes. The NCTE is the National Council of Teachers of English.

I hate to admit that not all educators feel this way. Not all classrooms are safe. very few schools are safe. All too few bathrooms are safe, for pity’s sake! Couldn’t they at least relax in the bathroom?? But no. Between the bigots, the fearmongers, and the misguided, bathrooms are certainly not safe.

Surrounded by a color wheel like a rainbow are the words, "You are Lovable, Worthy enough Brave." Four rainbow hearts punctuate the image.

I long for a time when every student, regardless of gender identity, can receive this message (I love that it’s inside a color wheel, one of the art teacher’s most important tools). I’m not alone in wanting this kind of respect for all students. But the other allies and I need a lot more company to make this message completely ring true.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to Instazu and #transgenderpride’s Instagram feed for the Explanation-of-Gay-Pride image (totally nailed it); to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) via Autostraddle, for the infographic image on verbal and psychological harassment in schools; to NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English, for the quote from their advisory committee; and to TeachersPayTeachers, for the classroom poster design offering words of hope and encouragement.