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AACTE Opposes Efforts to Silence Educators and LGBTQ+ Students

On behalf of AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement in response to recent legislation meant to oppress educators and students, including, as well as legislation specifically targeting transgendered and gender non-conforming students:

“Recently, there has been a concerted effort to prevent students, teachers, and educators from discussing our nation’s history in an honest and open manner. More than 30 states have pending legislation that prohibit the discussion of issues deemed “divisive,” including discourse of indigenous people and their removal from native lands, acts of antisemitism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and sexual orientation and gender identity.

AACTE strongly opposes legislation that censors curriculum and educators and prevents students, especially LGBTQ+ students and those from historically marginalized groups, from receiving the full and safe academic experience they deserve.

Additionally, AACTE supports policies and legislation that ensure teacher candidates are appropriately trained to support LGBTQ+ students and the various communities they represent. For example, according to GLSEN, LGBTQ+ students face increased rates of school discipline—including detention, suspension, or expulsion from school. Non-binary students are more likely to say they feel unsafe in schools. In addition, transgender and gender-nonconforming youth are three times more likely than LGBQT+ students to say that they did not expect to finish high school.

Elected officials should expand educational opportunities to all students, regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or creed, rather than implement policies that limit a student’s value in the classroom. Such discriminatory policies prohibit students from reaching their full academic potential by enabling bullying, harassment, and other harmful practices.

Though couched as efforts to make sure no student feels uncomfortable or to increase parental engagement, these laws do the opposite. Teachers, counselors, and school staff should be empowered to provide safe and inclusive spaces for all students, not stifled. 

Addressing historical and current events prepares students to live, participate, and empathize with diverse perspectives. Efforts to suppress inquiry and curb discussion violate the basic principles of free speech and an open exchange of ideas, which undermines the foundation of a healthy democracy through an educated citizenry.

AACTE encourages all educators to report any censorship efforts to organizations such as the American Library Association, National Coalition Against Censorship, African American Policy Forum (race/racism) and to report discrimination to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.”  

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