A queer teacher's story of Pride in kura
Monique shares her experience of what it's like being a teacher who's part of the LGBTQIA+ community and her hope for more Pride support in kura across the motu.
"I go on Sparklers so often, I love the Te Reo with different activities and stuff. I use it for when I’m looking for mindfulness for the tamariki. Our school values are integrity, confidence, empathy, and resilience . When we were doing values-based work we went to Sparklers and used the activities for that. It’s one of those resources I pop on when I need activities. It’s one of those resources I pop on when I need activities.
My favourites are:
The Empathy Effect - using it for integrity. A beautiful activity for understanding and communicating.
Tangled – grabbing each others hands and trying to unravel yourselves – it went well."
What is it like being a teacher that is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community?
"I don’t feel like I get to be a queer teacher. I do feel a lot of anxiety… the rainbow community isn’t talked about in my school. I am visible – I wear rainbow converse shoes, have a rainbow lanyard, and have my pride flag up in my classroom. The tamariki in my class haven’t asked about it, but older tamariki recognise it and ask me about it. There is no whole school approach to supporting the rainbow community, it’s just me representing rainbow support, and everyone knows it’s me. It would be great if we had a whole school approach to supporting the community."
What does Pride mean to you?
"I think pride for me is a celebration of love. It’s about being able to love who you want, love yourself, and celebrating what makes you different. The way the community is growing has created language around how we love each other and be ourselves, so why don’t we celebrate and talk about that?
I have tamariki in class who have crushes on each other. These behaviours start from a young age, like holding hands and learning how to love. Pride is about celebrating healthy and friendly relationships."
How would you like schools to celebrate Schools Pride wiki?
"I think that InsideOUT does it awesomely. We should be motivating schools… but the only real way to do that in schools is funding. Senior leadership teams need to upskill and learn so there can be understanding. I hear this more as: how can we get schools to participate - finding some way for there to be a bigger push for BoT and SLT to understand why it’s important. If it’s not being talked about there’s no real understanding of what Schools Pride Week is."
What is your hope for schools in Aotearoa and how they support LGBTQIA+ tamariki/rangatahi?
"For the future Health education should be the focus. We can start, right now, with a celebration in June for International Pride Month. It can be as simple as putting up a Pride flag, talking about love and acceptance plus celebrating what they mean. It can be as easy as using picture books that display different family dynamics; like grandparents raising their moko instead of the parents, or same-sex parents raising a family. When you bring up these thoughts with kids it can be about being proud of who you are, your culture, and your identity."
Do you have any messages for other LQBTQIA+ teachers out there?
"It’s important to be visual. The kids that are part of the community, or have whānau in the community, will feel safe and seen. Stand strong, reach out to rainbow organisations for resources. Be proud of who you are because it inspires the kids and that’s what we get to do as teachers, to inspire them to be themselves."