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As GLSEN launches our back to school program to support educators across the country, we know we can’t do so without addressing some recent events and tragedies affecting us all. Our students, like us, bring the world with them into our classrooms. The mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, two more in a seemingly continuous timeline of gun violence, along with the Mississippi ICE raids, are likely to be on the minds of your students and their families, your colleagues, and administrators. The task of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students can feel more challenging than ever, but that only makes this work more all the more crucial. While integrated school communities can collect social anxiety, they can also be a tremendous force in working together to heal. 

What can you do? 

As educators and advocates, you can set some supports in motion to create a supportive and affirming back to school culture that addresses and acknowledges these recent events. 

  • Meet with your administrators to see if there is consistent messaging around these issues from the school. Can a letter be sent to families, or will this be addressed at Back to School or Curriculum night? 

  • As the school year begins and you check in with your students, let the administrators know if this is coming up consistently, and what effect it is having on learning. Consider if an assembly or specific hours for students to meet in groups to discuss what’s coming up for them would be useful. 

  • Meet with your school’s health providers (i.e. social workers, counselors, physiologists, nurses, etc.) to find what resources and supports they can offer to your students. 

  • Connect with your school’s GSA to ensure that LGBTQ youth of color and LGBTQ undocumented youth have a supportive space. Consider having a joint meeting with other clubs who focus on safety, diversity, or immigration. 

  • Teach or share these lessons addressing gun violence in schools:

    Remember that educators don't have to be experts in any of these areas in order to be an invaluable support to students and the school community. Providing opportunities to listen and taking even small actions can make a tremendous impact.