Breaking the Silence

aqueerendeavor in Boulder, CO
Community Funded
This project ended on
June 16, 2014
Goal $20,000
Donation: Campaign receives all funds.
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From bethy We're "breaking the silence" around gender and sexual diversity so that all kids have access to safe & affirming learning spaces in schools.

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Who We Are

Bethy Leonardi and Sara Staley are educators responding to a pressing need to prepare and support our teachers to create safe, inclusive spaces in classrooms and schools for LGBTQ students and their allies. LGBTQ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer. "Trans*" is an umbrella term that includes a range of gender identities (e.g., transgender, transsexual, genderqueer) across the gender identity spectrum.

In partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education and our local community, we are working to “break the silence” around topics of gender and sexual diversity. Our aim is to support teachers and communities to do this important work. Why We Must Act Now Rainbow leaf.jpg

For too long, there has been a resounding silence around gender and sexuality in teacher education, leaving teachers unprepared to support LGBTQ students and to create classrooms that are safe and affirming. While there are many youth and teachers who are working to make their school environments welcoming and supportive, there are many others in schools where there is no attention to the dangers that exist daily for LGBTQ students. From 2009 to 2013, we lost at least 35 youth in the United States—that we know of— who identified as or were perceived to be LGBTQ; their school experiences were among the top reasons for ending their lives.

We believe in every child’s right to safe and affirming educational spaces and that schools can do a better job of this. We also believe in the importance of community and in the voices of youth when it comes to working for equity in schools.

Our project is committed to rectifying these injustices by supporting teachers to do this important work.

What We Are Doing

In April 2013, we hosted “An Evening with LGBTQ Youth and Allies” that focused on starting the conversation among local youth and 75 pre-service and in-service teachers. We filmed the event, along with over 30 interviews with students, teachers, and LGBTQ community members.

We are seeking funding to use this footage to complete a documentary film, Breaking the Silence: Honoring the Voices of LGBTQ Youth and Allies in Supporting Our Teachers. The film is being narrated by renowned poet/ activist Andrea Gibson.

The funding will also support the development of four short curriculum videos and companion materials focused on:

  1. Addressing LGBTQ topics in the elementary grades;
  2. Supporting LGBTQ teachers in the field;
  3. Using the school library as a resource and safe space; and
  4. Developing K- 12 lesson plans that include gender and sexual diversity.
The film and curriculum will be used for professional development with K-12 educators and for teacher preparation. They will also serve as resources for direct engagement with parents and local communities-at-large. Our goal is to “break the silence” across the country.

How You Can Support Us

We are asking our community to help us grow this project. 
Here are 3 ways you can help: 1. DONATE to our community project: Any contribution gets us one step closer to safe and inclusive school spaces. 2. START the conversation: Please spread the word about our project to your friends, family, and colleagues. 3. BREAK the silence: Host a screening/ discussion with us in your community. Visit our web page at

Thank you for your support!