Learning Disabilities Awareness Month – New Jersey Education Association

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Amy Moran, Ph.D. and Kate Okeson

In our ongoing commitment to an intersectional approach to LGBTQIA+ topics in education, we draw attention to people, whether students, colleagues or community members, who live at the intersection of multiple identities, who may encounter greater challenges in educational settings, or for whom the complexity of a multi-faceted identity is a gift. Our hope is to open conversations and encourage approaches that recognize the multifaceted nature of identity and increase acceptance and affirmation for all.

During this second month of school, we settle into the rituals and routines of our classrooms and get to know our students better with each conversation, each activity and each assessment. In doing so, we deepen our knowledge of each student’s unique learning styles and refine our pedagogies to meet the breadth of learning needs to the best of our ability.

In October, many of us learned our students’ personal pronouns, made our support for the LGBTQIA+ community visible in our classroom decor, and audible in the affirmations we say about different people’s identities. We have also read IEPs and worked collaboratively with general and special education teachers as well as members of the Children’s Study Team to adopt best practices for teaching individual learners in our classrooms. .

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, and we are able to recognize that 2.5 million students in the United States have specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia . Six million have been diagnosed with ADHD.

At the same time, nearly 2 million 13-17 year olds in the United States identify as LGBT, so we can extrapolate that over 7 million school-aged children, ages 5-17, identify as LGBT across the country (whether or not they are able to identify as such at this time). In fact, 55,000 13-17 year olds identify as LGBT in New Jersey alone.

An often overlooked part of New Jersey’s LGBTQ Inclusive Program mandate is the “…and people with disabilities…” part. It is critical that educators understand that students can be part of both of these communities and also struggle to access either due to lack of representation, affirmation and/or inclusive language in classrooms and schools.

This challenge was the subject of a conversation between Kate Okeson and JoAnn Johnson. They discussed how students with disabilities who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community sometimes lean more towards their homosexuality than general education students. Queer students with disabilities may be able to access social connections and supports through the creation of a queer community – such as in the context of a GSA – in a way that associations with their disability diagnosis sometimes stigmatized do not reproduce.

“At the high school level, it’s a little more acceptable to be LGBTQIA+ than to say you have a disability, and it demonstrates the gap in our understanding of disability as an identity,” Johnson says.

This is a call to action for learning professionals to increase disability visibility, pride and the contributions of people with disabilities to our culture and society, just as we continue to do for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Intersex Awareness Day is October 26!

What is the “I” in LGBTQIA+? Intersex is an umbrella term for physiological, chromosomal, and hormonal variations in the human body that do not fit neatly into the “feminine” and “masculine” categories.

  • Are you a biology teacher who has addressed intersex issues in your curriculum?
  • Are you a nurse, guidance counselor, GSA counselor, or child study team member with an anecdote to share about a time you worked with an intersex student?
  • Are you ready to learn more about intersex issues and how they might be addressed in your classroom, program, or affirmation practices?

Contact us with experiences, stories and questions to [email protected]

Betsy Driver, mayor of Flemington, New Jersey, and intersex human rights activist, is the second intersex elected “out” in the United States and founder of Intersex Awareness Day.

National Coming Out Day is October 11!

“People like me, homosexuals, undocumented, undocumented homosexuals, don’t ‘come out’. We simply let you in and, in doing so, ask you to find yourself in us.

– Jose Antonio Vargas, gay rights and immigration justice activist

October is LGBTQIA+ History Month

One way to increase visibility for LGBTQIA+ people is to expand our familiarity with icons in all aspects of our culture, from news anchors and judges to authors and American governors.

Let’s teach and teach each other about the wonderful and important contributions of queer people throughout history! Let’s explore an icon every day this month! Visit the LGBT History Month website to meet 31 icons and explore 496 others!

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