Dear Member,

NCTE logo

We stand with and support all who are grieving and all who are working to heal in Orlando and throughout our country and world.

Many of you have been directly and indirectly affected by this tragedy, including in the work you are now doing to address student questions and concerns. This issue of INBOX offers literacy resources to help along this difficult journey. We are continuing to collect more resources and welcome your additions via comments to this post. NCTE will focus on helping all of its members ensure English classrooms and environments provide opportunities for students to express themselves and learn about others safely and true to who they know themselves to be. Our nation’s students and teachers need us more than ever.

Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE Executive Director

Supporting our lgbtq communities  

“Hope will never be silent.” - Harvey Milk


As the news of the tragedy in Orlando began to filter across the country, a growing cry of “what can we do?” accompanied the grief. For educators, one answer may lie in rethinking our curriculum and our instructional approaches to ensure we’re creating safe spaces in which our LGBTQ students can thrive and all students can confront stereotypes and prejudices. Here are some articles from NCTE publications on this topic:

Safe Zones: Supporting LGBTQ Youth through Literature
By Karen Wood, Brian Kissel, and Erin Miller, Voices from the Middle, May 2016

Doing What You Can: Considering Ways to Address LGBT Topics in Language Arts Curricula
By Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth and Caitlin L. Ryan, Language Arts, July 2015

Heterosexual Readers in Search of Queer Authenticity through Self-Selected LGBT Novels
By John Pruitt,  TETYC May 2015

Mythology of the Norm: Disrupting the Culture of Bullying in Schools
By sj Miller, English Journal, July 2012

Sexual Identity and Gender Variance: Meeting the Educational Challenges
By Paula Ressler and Becca Chase; this is the opening to a full English Journal issue on the topic from March 2009.

Shattering Images of Violence in Young Adult Literature: Strategies for the Classroom
By sj Miller, English Journal, May 2005

Looking for books that explore LGBTQ issues?

June is GLBT Book Month at the American Library Association. This is a nationwide celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.

Teaching in a time of crisis  

In 2001 an NCTE resolution was passed about teaching in a time of crisis. The crisis was different that year, but the ideas inherent in that resolution remind us of the critical role literacy educators play in navigating through tragic events like the one we’re grappling with today. (This excerpt is adapted from the original text.)

  • Literature and writing instruction are a means for understanding loss, anger, war, and difference;
  • Language study is a vehicle for understanding conflict, propaganda, and democratic discourse; and
  • Critical literacy is an instrument essential to an informed citizenship and global understanding.

As we field the barrage of messages in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, that critical literacy lens has never felt more crucial.

Difficult Days and Difficult Texts
In this 2001 Voices from the Middle article, Robert E. Probst explores the important role stories play in our ability to make sense of tragedy.

Teaching for Critical Literacy: An Ongoing Necessity to Look Deeper and Beyond
This 2006 English Journal article from Michael J. Michell offers three examples of how he made critical literacy teaching hands-on in his classroom.

Our past and present world is rife with examples of intolerance, lies, corruption, crimes against humanity, conflict, genocide. These are the daily events that should compel English teachers to concern themselves with teaching about how to live in harmony and peace with one another, how to see beyond the written word, and how to help all become more fully human.

Seeing Multiple Perspectives: An Introductory Critical Literacy Lesson
This is a ReadWriteThink resource by Theodore Kesler for elementary school students.

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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts