Honoring, covering LGBTQ+ experiences in journalism classrooms
By Kristin Taylor, MJE
As we think about diversity, equity and inclusion in our journalism classrooms, it is important to remember “diversity” is not just about race and ethnicity — it is about all aspects of our students’ and colleagues’ multifaceted identities. October is LGBT History Month, and November is Transgender Awareness Month, so this is a great time to consider how we cover LGBTQ+ experiences and history.
Let’s start with some of the wonderful student journalism reporting on LGBTQ+ issues. Most of these pieces were featured on Best of SNO, which is a rich source for strong student journalism on every imaginable topic, and two are National Scholastic Press Association Story of the Year finalists.
Consider sharing these standout articles, objective and opinion, with your staff:
- Becoming myself: Brendon Rich By Sophia Arndt, The Pony Express, Stillwater Area High School (Minnesota).
- Students petition for right to display LGBTQ+ flag on school grounds By Kalyani Rao, Eagle Nation Online, Prosper High School (Texas).
- LGBTQIA+ community speaks out on acceptance By K.J. Beckley, The Orbiter, Streetsboro High School (Ohio).
- Offering a guide where there is no map, Rabbi Lau writes on how to be Jewish and LGBTQ By Joshua Gamson, The Boiling Point, Shalhevet High School (California).
- Supporting trans teens: video reporting from national summer workshop By Alice Scott, The Shield Online, McCallum High School (Texas).
- Staples’ first pride day provides the LGBTQIA+ community with hope, support By Elle Vail, Inklings News, Staples High School (Connecticut).
- Rights Within the LGBTQ+ Community By Emilia Belcolore, Kickapoo High Quarterly, Kickapoo High School (Missouri).
- Opinion: Transgender athlete bans ignore the real problem By Sophia Mattioli, Scot Scope News, Carlmont High School (California).
- Super Straight or Super Transphobic? By Anna Macpherson, Lancer Spirit Online, Londonderry High School (New Hampshire).
- Mental Health in the LGBTQ+ Community By Marin Ellington, The Messenger, Marquette High School (Missouri).
- Op-Ed: Stop Romanticizing LGBTQ+ Relationships By Grace Papas, The Gator, Brimmer and May School (Massachusetts).
- Beyond the Binary By Hanah Kitamoto and Caroline Mascardo, West Side Story, Iowa City West High (Iowa).
Professional organizations and queer media
For professional and historical context, you may also want to talk with students about the role of professional organizations, such as NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, or learn about the history of LGBTQ+ publications.
Here are some resources to share:
- NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists — Their main website includes their mission and history, membership info, events, awards, resources and more.
- A History of the Queer Press — This is a podcast episode. From the website: “In conjunction with the NYPL exhibition Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, founding members of the GLF, Perry Brass and Karla Jay, speak with media and activism scholar Michael Bronski, and Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, co-hosts of WNYC Studios’ podcast Nancy. They discussed the fight for inclusion in the media, the rise of the queer press in the 1960s and 70s, and the lasting impact of its legacy.”
- How TIME’s Reporting on Gay Life in America Shaped—and Skewed—a Generation’s Attitudes — This opinion piece by Eric Marcus might be interesting to discuss with your students in terms of the role mainstream media plays in shaping views of marginalized communities.
- “Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Papers in America,” edited by Tracy Baim — For a deeper dive into this history, you could refer interested students to this book.
- What do you notice and wonder about these articles? What makes them strong?
- How did these student reporters provide nuance and context to LBGTQ+ stories, avoiding the temptation to generalize or resort to cliché?
- How are you covering LGBTQ+ experiences in your own community? How do these articles inspire you to broaden or diversify your coverage?
- What is the importance of professional affinity groups, such as NLGJA, in supporting journalists who identify with marginalized communities?
Newseum traveling exhibit: Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement
If you are looking for an immersive journalism experience and live close to Skokie, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee, or Dallas, you should also be aware of the Newseum’s powerful traveling exhibit “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement.” Anyone lucky enough to see the exhibit in Washington, D.C. before the main Newseum closed can vouch for its incredible power. Here’s a description from the brochure:
“Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement” explores the June 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village as the flashpoint that ignited the modern gay rights movement in the United States. Through powerful artifacts, images and historic print publications, the exhibit explores key moments of gay rights history, including the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials; the AIDS crisis; U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s public coming out in 1987; the efforts for hate crime legislation; the implementation and later repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”; and the fight for marriage equality. “Rise Up” also looks at popular culture’s role influencing attitudes about the LGBTQ community through film, television and sports, and explores how the gay rights movement harnessed the power of public protest and demonstration to change laws and shatter stereotypes.
The exhibit moved from Seattle to Skokie, Illinois, in October, where it will be until May 2022. It opens in Memphis, Tennessee, June 2022 and will make a final move to Dallas in January 2023.
As always, we’re looking to amplify voices in our JEA community. If you have something you’d like to add to this discussion — resources, stories, lesson plans — please reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org so we can feature them.
This article is part of a series of resources JEA is recommending to advisers in an effort to provide antiracist teaching resources to educators. JEA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its membership and practices. See the official statement here.
Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.