A Lesson Plan from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit
Purpose: To learn about issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning people and to promote acceptance and respect for all people irrespective of their sexual orientation
Materials: Leader's Resource, Guided Imagery
Time: 45 minutes
Planning Notes: Sexual orientation is a controversial topic. This activity is designed to promote understanding, acceptance, and respect. While being sensitive to the community's attitudes, remember that young people need accurate information and an opportunity to discuss an issue that may be difficult for them. As you lead this activity, remember that there are probably gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning teens in your group. You will not know the sexual orientation of every participant, so be very sure to use inclusive and affirming language. For example, say 'we,' 'all people,' and 'some people,' not 'they' or 'people like them.'
- Without revealing the topic of the activity, begin reading the Guided Imagery (Leader's Resource for this activity).
- After you have finished the Guided Imagery, ask the participants to sit up, open their eyes if they were closed, and reconnect with the group. Ask each participant to turn to the person next to her/him and take a few minutes to talk about how it would feel to live in such a world and what it would feel like if they had to keep so many secrets about themselves. Then, ask the pairs to discuss what those feelings might lead them to do if this were a real situation.
- Call the group back together and ask for volunteers who are willing to share their thoughts and feelings with the whole group. Write their responses on newsprint. Add checkmarks when other participants offer the same or similar responses. Expect to hear answers like: feeling angry, sad, and isolated; dropping out of school; staying home from school; using alcohol and other drugs; breaking the rules; and feeling depressed. If youth do not suggest these feelings and responses, suggest them yourself.
- Explain that while the situation is, of course, fictional, it mirrors the real world faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning people. Say that, because they are often understandably afraid to 'come out' (reveal their sexual orientation) to others, gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are forced to keep many parts of their lives secret. Sometimes keeping so many secrets leads to their dropping out of school, staying home from school, using alcohol and other drugs, running away, breaking the rules, etc. Say that, eventually, most gay, lesbian and bisexual people, including teens, find ways to tell the people who are important to them and find friends who are supportive of them. The struggle to decide who is safe to tell lasts all of one's life, because there is so much ignorance and fear about homosexuality in our society.
- End with the Discussion Questions below.
- How would it feel to have to hide something as important and as basic as your sexual orientation, (the sex of the people to whom you are romantically, emotionally, and physically attracted)?
- What were the first things you remember learning about homosexuality? Do you remember learning anything from your family? Friends? Community of faith? Was what you learned positive or negative?
- Have you ever learned about or discussed issues of sexual orientation in class? What did you learn?
- What movie or television character have you recently seen that is GLBTQ? How has that affected your thinking?
- How would it feel to need to hide from other people your gender or the sex of those to whom you are attracted? How would that affect your life?
* Adapted from Life Planning Education, © 1995, Advocates for Youth, Washington, DC.
Reprinted from Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit, Girl's Best Friend Foundation and Advocates for Youth, © 2005.
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