In November, we recognize and celebrate the diversity of our community. We observe Native American Heritage Month, acknowledging the colonization, resistance, and resilience of Native and Indigenous communities, and seeking out accurate and inclusive narratives of the Native and Indigenous experience.
We commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience on November 20, and Transgender Awareness Week, from November 13 - 19 to ensure our schools can be communities of understanding, safety, and belonging for trans students, and to stand against the violence the trans community faces.
Our monthly recognitions are part of how we strive to build for belonging, working towards a community where every member feels valued, heard, and empowered. To learn more about these newsletters, read our blog post on how and why we acknowledge.
Native American Heritage Month
Reflect on the history and context of Native American Heritage Month: November was first designated as Native American Heritage month in 1990, and Native American Heritage Day is observed this year on November 24. In this blog post, Native Hope, an organization that “exists to address the injustice done to Native Americans… to bring healing and inspire hope” writes to describe what Thanksgiving can mean to Native Americans: “Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day give us the opportunity to reflect on our collective history and to celebrate the beauty, strength, and resilience of the Native tribes of North America."
Rethink your approach to teaching about Native and Indigenous peoples: First Nations, an American Indian nonprofit, provides schools and educators with “4 Reasons to Rethink Your November.” Resources from the Native Knowledge 360° Education Initiative, a project of the National Museum of American Indian, can help you and your school in “transforming teaching and learning about Native Americans.” Their site provides extensive educational resources and professional development to ensure that your teaching about Native and Indigenous people is accurate, inclusive, and affirming.
Listen to Native voices: Novelist Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) profiles independent high school student Jeffrey Martinez (Sicangu and Oglala Lakota): “For many teenagers, leaving home for college is an escape. For Jeffrey, it seems like a solemn duty… Somehow the seven Lakota values applied to Jeffrey Martinez are an equation that equals escape, not from home but from a system made and not made for people like Jeffrey.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Explore the origins of the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience: The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in 1999 as a vigil to commemorate the murder of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman in Boston, MA and to remember all trans lives lost to violence. In 2014, the Trans Day of Resilience art project was founded “for and by trans people of color” in partnership with The Audre Lorde Project (New York City, NY), BreakOUT (New Orleans, LA), and Forward Together (Oakland, CA). Both commemorations seek to call attention to the violence that affects trans people, and to remember and honor the diversity, strength, and resistance of the trans community.
Learn the facts about trans students’ experiences: The Transgender Day of Remembrance / Resilience is preceded by Transgender Awareness Week from November 13 - 19. This infographic on Transgender Youth in Schools identifies the challenges and supports that affect trans students’ experiences. If your school chooses to hold a vigil on November 20, In Memoriam lists for 2017 through 2022 (from GLAAD) and for 2023 (from Human Rights Campaign) can be found online.
Listen to trans students’ voices: Trans youth on GLSEN’s National Student Council talk about the support they need from educators and allies when schools observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance / Resilience: “We have to talk about the death and suffering of trans people to develop a comprehensive and widespread understanding of why it’s happening, who is causing it, and what resources need to be compiled to prevent it.”
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)