english

dutch criteria for lgbt safer schools

The Dutch National Alliance for Sexual Diversity in Schools published a booklet "Open & Out: 10 rainbow keys for schools". The booklet, which was published in Dutch, contains 10 criteria for LGBT inclusive schools. The "rainbow keys" are also included in an online test which offers schools tailored advice on how to make next steps in their school safety and their curriculum on "essential citizenship skills", like dealing with diversity and differences between people.

There are two innovative aspects about this new set of criteria. First, they are based on solid empiric evidence from Dutch and international research about what works in schools to make them more supportive towards LGBT students and staff. Secondly, they are formulated in a general way, which makes clear that attention to LGBT safety and issues are integral parts of the general safety and quality of a school for all students and staff. The 10 rainbow keys explicitly link into the quality criteria of the Dutch school Inspectorate.

The 10 keys are:
Key 1: Do you know how safe your students and staff feel?
Key 2: Does your school have a vision on how to deal with "teasing", bullying and discrimination?
Key 3: Does your school have a shared vision on citizenship and diversity?
Key 4: Do you have clear agreements about respectful behavior?
Key 5: Does your school consistently deal with negative behavior?
Key 6: Does your school take action so everyone can express their identity at school?
Key 7: Does the school have an inclusive curriculum on basic skills for citizenship?
Key 8: Does the curriculum include specific lessons on sexual diversity?
Key 9: Do all the pupils get good quality guidance?
Key 10: Do you involve students in the quality of the school?

In the text with each key, information is given about the relative impact of measures on the school policy. This way, the widespread myth that a gay and lesbian curriculum will have most effect is dispelled. Dutch research shows that discussing behavioral guidelines and agreeing on them with students in the first week of the school year (includes no name calling) is far more effective than any lesson that may be offered later.

The Dutch alliance states in her press release: "Dutch schools are often willing to change something, but they don't know how. The rainbow keys are meant to make high impact choices."
Apart from publishing the booklet and the online test, the alliance partners (trade unions, public school boards and EduDivers-Expertise Centre on Schools and Sexual Diversity) now visit schools personally, doing a new region each month. In these personal conversations, they give advice and build a "MyID" (my ID, my idea for change) ambassador network. The mission is to end up with MyID ambassadors in each schools you keep promoting "being able to be yourself in school".