As school leaders, we hold a persistent belief: Students perform best in a secure, supportive environment where they are free to be their authentic selves. It’s an essential condition for their learning, for their best performance, and for their ability to fulfill their greatest potential.

I would argue that principle applies to all of us. When we are free to be our authentic selves, we perform at our best as leaders. When we’re not preoccupied with masking part of our identity, we don’t have to divert energy from our teachers and students to maintain a persona that might be less offensive to a stakeholder group.

Yet many principals, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ+, do not always have the benefit of those conditions. At the first meeting of the NASSP LGBTQ+ School Leaders Network in July, I heard far too many stories from principals who regularly have to withhold aspects of their lives about which others share freely—spouses or wedding plans—just so they can continue to do the work they love. I also heard that many LGBTQ+ teachers resist a move to administration for fear of the personal scrutiny it brings. As an organization that both places a premium on equity and believes at its core in the power of leadership to transform education, NASSP finds those conditions unacceptable.

The aim of the LGBTQ+ School Leaders Network is not just to provide a supportive community, but to understand how the perception of LGBTQ+ identity gets in the principal’s way—how it prevents them from growing into their full leadership potential. And then we can work intentionally to remove those obstacles.

You can look forward to hearing more about the network in the coming months. In the meantime, we welcome any principal or assistant principal who identifies as LGBTQ+ to visit and become part of this supportive community.

JoAnn Bartoletti
Executive Director, NASSP