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Ways to better support LGBTQ+ students in schools and classrooms

Almost 14% of Maine high school students identify as LGBTQ+. Here are some resources for teachers and students to help make classrooms more inclusive.

MAINE, Maine — 1 in 7 high school students here in Maine identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

As Pride Month is celebrated, the Maine Department of Education is putting out a list of resources to help make our schools more welcoming and inclusive.

One of them is the non-profit Out Maine. It reports that 2,800 LGBTQ+ teens in Maine considered suicide in the past year.

In an effort to make Maine schools more inclusive, Out Maine Interim Executive Director Sue Campbell tells NEWS CENTER Maine just this year it has trained more than 3,500 teachers and professionals to better support LGBTQ+ students.

Campbell says one of the first things teachers can do is to look at the curriculum they are using and make it more inclusive. For example, instead of just saying "he" or "she" educators can also use the pronouns "them" or "they" when teaching.

Another step is to have materials or resources available in class, like books, that represent all students.

Campbell says it's important for teachers to respect a student's preference when it comes to the pronouns they use.

"And If a situation occurs in a room, make sure that you address it. We see a lot of classrooms that people will have safe space stickers on their door or what not and if something happens they may not address it, they may not even be aware it happened, but then the students are not going to feel safe there because something happened and it didn't get addressed," Campbell said.

Campbell says students should also take a big part in making sure LGBTQ+ students feel accepted and welcomed in school. If there is an uncomfortable situation happening to one of them, Campbell says to always speak up and don't be a bystander.

"Adults can't address a situation if they don't know about it. Don't be a bystander. Stand up support your friend and support other students that are in the building that might not be your friends but need your help. Everybody wants to be included and everybody wants to have a friend," Campbell said.

Click here for resources available from OUT Maine.

Click here for resources from the Maine Department of Education for LGBTQ+ students, teachers, and parents.

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