Building LGBTQ+ Inclusive Homeschool Spaces: A Review of the Side by Side Workshop

On September 18th, Shannon Cassano and Abram Clear of Side By Side led our first virtual workshop for parents, caregivers, and adult allies on LGBTQ+ identities and terminologies as well as best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ youth in our homeschool spaces. The event was provided free to members of VaHomeschoolers and kicked off a series of workshops that are in the planning stages and will cover a variety of topics with engaging speakers and Q&A opportunities.

Side By Side is dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish. Their training and education programming is top notch with a large portion of their work geared toward adults who work with and support LGBTQ+ youth in their personal or professional lives. Side By Side also hosts weekly in-person and virtual support groups for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults and parents and caregivers.

Shannon and Abram covered basic terminology and context around different identities and language used in LGBTQ+ communities to provide a solid foundation from which to have deeper conversations on providing effective and loving support for LGBTQ+ youth. One highlight from the workshop is that it only takes one caring adult to make a difference in a young person’s life, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a parent to have a positive impact. All homeschooling parents, families, and community members can work to make sure that the LGBTQ+ youth in our lives feel valued and supported for who they are. It is important that LGBTQ+ youth know that there are caring adults in their lives equipped to talk with them, validate their experiences, and connect them to resources in the community as needed. Side By Side gave workshop participants the tools to do just that!

There was so much great insight provided by Shannon and Abram, it’s hard to summarize it all, but most importantly: listen, affirm, and look into resources to help answer questions as they arise. One way we can all show we’re here for support is through offering our own pronouns as part of our introduction when people join our homeschool spaces, as a subtle signal we’re open to hearing and using other’s preferred names and pronouns. There is so much to be learned, discovered, and celebrated when we see gender identity as fluid and with variation, being open to changing identities.

During the presentation, this video was shared highlighting a parent’s journey in supporting her child: Parenting the Child You Have, Not the Child You Thought You’d Have | Nicole Bruno | TEDxFarmingdale. It might be helpful for you or someone you know.

Side By Side shared two additional resources that we found useful:

We’re so grateful for everyone who joined us. We look forward to the Virtual Workshops to come!

“Thank you so much for this amazing offering-so grateful for all your important work, VaHomeschoolers for committing to safe spaces.” -S.B.


This blog was written in collaboration by VaHomeschoolers PR Committee, based on a workshop led by Side by Side volunteers. 

Dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish, Side by Side is here to support your homeschooling journey. For more about Side By Side, to sign up for workshops, or to register for support groups, visit their website at

Opinions expressed by individual writers in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Directors of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, nor do they represent an official position of VaHomeschoolers. Writers’ views are their own, and readers are encouraged to research and explore homeschooling issues to their own satisfaction.

Photo by Norma Mortenson.

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