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5th Grade Organizes a LQBTQ+ Panel Discussion

Thursday, November 4, 2021

PHS 5th grade hosted a panel on LGBTQ+ identity topics with PHS faculty and staff members this week. The 5th grade class's interest came about organically and authentically: When the students were prompted to reflect on their class as a welcoming community and create a welcoming poster, many students focused on the rainbow and wanted to be welcoming to all genders and sexes. The PHS teachers identified this as an example of a teachable moment/inquiry process–the students had interest and curiosity around the topic and needed a solid foundation of accurate vocabulary and deeper understanding about LGBTQ+ identities.

In partnership with our school counselor, 5th grade students learned LGBTQ+ terms and were able to host a panel of PHS faculty and staff who felt strongly about LGBTQ+ topics and were willing to share their personal stories as well as their experience and understanding around appropriate word choices, the history of LGBTQ+ issues, and how allies and community members can support the LGBTQ+ community. During the panel, 5th grade students learned that identity is a journey and that this can also be true for our gender identity. Students learned that by not judging and by being loving, we can support each other on this journey. Students and staff also acknowledged the privilege of living in a time and place where we can freely talk about this topic and embrace and support our own diverse identities.

Students took an active role in running the panel, were well organized, attentive, and always respectful. The class adhered to shared Multicultural Guidelines and are ready to encourage and embrace more wondering and questions with empathy and respect. Throughout the school year, the 5th grade class will continue to reflect on LGBTQ+ identities and history and make connections between their learning in other curriculum areas to become a stronger, more loving community.

This was a great representation of how an inquiry process works at PHS: students began with questions and wonderings, were supported by staff through sharing and opening a forum for connection and mentorship, and ties directly to students' upcoming participation in identity groups and, in middle school, in affinity groups. This panel was a powerful example of how identity is celebrated at PHS and how we can approach wondering about our own and others' identities in a supportive way.