From: Joshua Palkki, LGBTQ Perspectives
It is my honor to be serving a second term as LGBTQ Perspectives Repertoire & Resources chair for CCDA. Making sure that queer students feel safe and supported in choral spaces is the driving force of my research, scholarship, and advocacy.
As we (hopefully) transition out of Covid quarantine, I am realizing how real the phenomenon of re-entry anxiety is. As I go back to things that I did pre-Covid, I am finding myself anxious and tentative in situations that formerly were simple. As we re-enter choral classrooms this fall, realize that the home situations for LGBTQ singers may be different and much more difficult than for those who do not identify as LGBTQ. Some queer students were forced back "into the closet" during quarantine if they were living with family members who do not support them. This can have a devastating psychological impact on persons who had grown accustomed to being "out" in their daily lives. This poignant story in the Los Angeles Times sums up this phenomenon.
For me, one of the blessings of the pandemic is that I have learned to place far more emphasis on the socio-emotional learning of my students. This is something that I hope will continue long after all of the Covid variants have left us. Dr. Scott Edgar from Lake Forest College in Illinois has a wonderful resource on this topic that you might consider picking up. This idea of being "people-first" is also emphasized in the book on which I've spent the past three years working: Honoring Trans and Gender-Expansive Students in Music Education, which is now available from Oxford University Press.
Names and Pronouns
One thing that you might consider this fall is to ensure that you are using the proper names and pronouns for your students. A recent study revealed that "chosen name use is part of the gender affirmation process for some, but not all, transgender youth and is associated with better mental health among transgender youth who adopt a chosen name" (Pollitt et al., 2021, p. 320). We as choral conductor-teachers can do the following things at the beginning of the school year:
If you have questions or need support, I am here for you. Please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy back to school! I will close with a quote from our book that I just love:
TRAVIS (he/him; male; white) Good teaching is good teaching. Good teaching is aware teaching. Good teaching allows you to leave your ignorance at the door to have your students teach you. (Garrett & Palkki, 2021, p. 98).
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