Educators in school districts across the country are stepping up to fill the gap left by the DeVos Department of Education when it comes to protecting the civil rights of LGBTQIA students. Bo Frank, a trainer and teacher at Radford High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, is helping to meet the needs of his colleagues who are hungry for training on how they can create more inclusive classrooms.
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Bo’s training, Sharing Aloha: equity, social justice and inclusion for LGBTQIA students, has been viewed by thousands of educators across the nation. In the training he shares his own family’s journey with daughter Sakoda, who made the transition from living as a boy to being a girl halfway through kindergarten.
The NEA team was able to catch up with Bo as he was finishing his last semester as a Ph.D. student. Between classes, training and Dad duties we were able to talk about the impact of his work, the future of education and how to create inclusive classrooms. Below are the highlights from our conversation.
NEA: Did Sakoda’s transition change the way that you approach education and training?
Sakoda’s transition changed my life! Before her transition, I was looking to enroll in an athletic administration Ph.D. program. After Sakoda’s transition, I decided to look into Ph.D. programs in Human Sexuality, and applied and enrolled at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her brave transition and willingness to share her story was my motivation to learn and to advocate for her and all transgender youth. In the coming years, sexual literacy will be essential to address through critical comprehensive sexuality education in grades K-12.
NEA: What are some of the results you have seen or hope to see from your trainings?
The Hawaii Social Justice Summit was my first time training educators to think about inclusive milieus in classrooms and schools. I hope that my presentation starts the conversations that are needed to create change at the school level. Faculty and staff at all schools need in-service training and exposure to the basic needs of marginalized populations in our schools. Every student deserves an equal opportunity, to feel safe and accepted in school, and to reach their maximum potential.
Join students and educators in turning silence into action by participating in our partner GLSEN’s Day of Silence campaign on April 27th.
NEA: What are some of the things educators everywhere can do to make the school environment better for LGBTQIA students?
Know the acronym – LGBTQIA – get some training, fly me over to your school district to begin conversations that matter. Know the difference between sexual orientation, gender, and sex. Start breaking the binaries. Be role models of acceptance and love to all students. Create safe spaces, post signs that enhance acceptance. Share Aloha through meaningful relationships!
NEA: We live in challenging times – what keeps you motivated and drives you?
Students drive me. Equality and social justice keep me motivated, intrinsically I like being challenged. I want the world to be a more loving and accepting place for all students, including for my Sakoda. Sexual orientation and gender diversity provide the world with a variety that is special and should be acknowledged. It is time we start treating all human beings like people, and if I don’t do my best to advocate for the community then I am ultimately responsible for perpetuating discrimination against them. There is no hope in silence. Silence is never neutral; if you are silent then you are on the side of discrimination!
Bo Frank is addressing a very important topic. Is there anyway to strengthen the audio on his video Sharing Aloha: equity, social justice and inclusion for LGBTQIA students? It’s quite difficult to hear his important message.
Thank you so much for addressing this matter.