I was at a school recently that had just gotten their results back from a school climate and student safety survey they had done. The principal said one of the things that stood out was that 9 students who had self-identified as LGBTQ said they felt safe on campus, but not supported. It would be easy to dismiss it, but this principal was excited about opening up the conversation. His plan? Invite them to lunch and ask how they could better feel supported on campus. (Novel idea, right? To ASK what people need. Sometimes, we miss the easy stuff!)
It reminds me of the difference between tolerance, acceptance, and love. I can tolerate you (make you feel, at the bare minimum, safe on campus), but that doesn’t mean I accept you or understand you or will take time to care for you (make you feel support and belonging). There’s a difference - and an important one!
What do you do on your campus to make people feel safe? What do you do to make them feel supported?
Houston Kraft is the co-founder of CharacterStrong. He is a professional speaker and kindness advocate who has spoken at over 600 events internationally. Student Body President in High School, Class President at Bowdoin College, Leadership Camp Staff for 14 years in Washington - he is a lifelong learner of character, culture, kindness, and leadership. He was featured in 2019 on BBQ Lays Potato Chips and his mom's lasting life lesson is "Hug like you mean it."