One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing Paul Caldwell and Joshua Palkki present the workshop: "Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom." Mr. Caldwell was my choir director at my camp growing up so I was already so excited for the workshop and I was blown away
This incredible workshop began by presenting data from a national survey of 1,123 college-age LGBTQ choral singers regarding their recent experiences in high school programs. This survey really shined a light on the fact the choral classroom has the ability to be a safe space and for LGBTQ youth- a real safe haven where they feel accepted. The data in the survey also revealed things that we as a profession could improve upon. The two incredible presenters guided us through these ideas and gave us suggestions on how we could improve:
-Improving gender pronouns to not be limited to the gender binary (i.e. not addressing the sopranos as "ladies")
-Having gender flexible, or gender neutral concert wear
-Being ready to have conversations with your students about bullying specifically relating to LGBTQ youth
-And much much more!
The workshop also had a "talk back" session that was extremely moving, with the whole audience coming up with ideas to create a better safe space in the choral classroom.
The session ended with the distribution of "Safe Space Stickers" - something made by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight education network that teachers can post on their doors or by their offices to make sure their students know that their room is a safe space.
Get your own safe space "kit" with the stickers here: http://safespace.glsen.org/ and then tweet a photo of your sticker with the hashtag: #choirissafe. Lets see how many stickers can get put up just as a result of this conference!
-Rebecca Saltzman (President ICACDA and Senior)
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