A Lesson Plan from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit
Purpose: To allow participants to ask questions, hear from, and empathize with GLBTQ people; to address and assist participants to move beyond stereotypes
Materials: Panel composed of youth and young adults who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
Time: 60 minutes
Planning Notes: When you hold a panel discussion that permits program youth to interact with openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, you make real the issues faced by GLBTQ people and give youth the chance to relate to the humanity of the speakers.
- Well before this session, contact one or more of the organizations listed in the Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit. Ask for assistance in assembling a small panel of two or more gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender people. Be ready to explain the purpose of the workshop, to share this activity outline with the experts, and to brief the experts on the status of your organization and your participants in regard to creating safe space for GLBTQ youth.
- Engage an expert facilitator to moderate the discussion. The moderator will control the room, the audience's questions, the panelists' interactions, length of discussions on any one point, etc.
- Acquire biographical sketches for the panel members and the moderator, and complete the logistics (room reservation, microphones and other audio-visual equipment needed by panelists, invitations, name tags, refreshments, etc.) for the panel presentation. If you have engaged a facilitator to moderate the panel discussion, forward copies of the biographical sketches to the moderator, who will introduce the panelists.
- Be sure you are up to speed on sexual orientation and gender identity. Review the Glossary and Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Prepare your own questions for the expert panel, just in case your participants have few or no questions.
- Be prepared for one or more participants to 'come out' (disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity) to you or the group because offering this activity may signal that you are a safe person to talk with or that this is a safe space. You can be very helpful by saying that you are glad the young person chose to talk with you and by giving her/him a list of community resources, such as agencies, support groups, and Web sites for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. (See Select Organizations, Web Sites, Videos, and Books in Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit.) Be sure that you do not say that you are too busy to listen, brush the youth off with a quick referral, or say that "this is a phase" or that the "teens aren't old enough to know."
- At the beginning of this session, hand out index cards and identical pencils or pens to all the participants. Say that each panelist will share his/her story with them. As they listen, participants can write on the cards any questions they have about sexual orientation, gender identity, homophobia, transphobia, or other issues that confront GLBTQ people. Tell participants that if they don't have any questions, they should write something on the card anyway. Tell them to write: "I have no questions." That way everyone will fill out a card and all who do have questions can remain anonymous.
- Introduce the expert panel by first talking a few minutes about the purpose of the panel. Introduce the moderator and explain that he/she will indicate who is to speak next, that time is up for discussion of a particular point, when a member of the audience may ask a question, when someone is out of order (speaking without permission), etc.
- Turn the session over to the moderator who will begin by introducing the panelists and then giving each panelist about five minutes to tell his/her story.
- After the panelists have spoken, collect the participants' index cards and hand them to the moderator. The moderator will read the question(s) aloud, one at a time (ignoring any question that repeats a previous question), and ask one of the panelists to respond.
- If there is time, ask the participants if they have any additional questions. At the end of the panel discussion, thank the panelists and the moderator; ask the youth to express their thanks. If time permits, conclude with the following Discussion Questions.
- Did you learn anything new today that changed your views on GLBTQ people?
- What affected you most about the panelists' stories?
A new activity, designed by Advocates for Youth, © 2005.
Reprinted from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit, Girl's Best Friend Foundation and Advocates for Youth, © 2005.
Click here to read more lesson plans from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit