Coming Out Snakes and Ladders
This exercise provides the opportunity for young people to empathise or identify with the feelings of LGBT young people who choose to come out to friends and family.
Sexual orientation is a controversial topic and many youth workers/teachers may feel uncomfortable talking about it. As someone who works with young people it is vital that you create an environment of respect and understanding for all your young people, and that your personal views or religious beliefs do not prevent you from doing this. Remember that discussions about sexual orientation are not about moral judgement, or religious views, but about treating people equally and fairly, and respecting other people’s right to engage in mutually consensual relationships of their choice, as afforded to them by the law.
Educating young people about sexual orientation may help them be more empathetic to other people who they see as different. Remember that young people need accurate information and an opportunity to discuss an issue that may be difficult for them. They should be encouraged to share their feelings, but reminded that discrimination, hate and violence are always wrong.
As you lead this activity, remember that there are probably gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning teens in your group. It is important that you make LGBT young people (whether they have come out or not) feel acknowledged and understood. You will not know the sexual orientation of every participant, so be very sure to use inclusive and affirming language. For example, say ‘we,’ ‘all people,’ and ‘some people,’ not ‘they’ or ‘people like them.’
Should a learner come out to you, the information sheet about what to do if someone comes out to you may be useful. Never ask learners about their sexual orientation or ask anyone to come out during the session.
Print a set of snakes and ladders game boards (provided below). You will need one set for every 3-5 participants in the group. Printing or copying the boards onto heavy paper/card will make them sturdier and more durable, but ordinary paper will also work.
Divide young people into groups of 3-5 and have them sit in small circles around tables. Hand out a board to each group.
Ask each learner to find a small object (coin, eraser etc.) that they can use as their game piece /placeholder.
Explain that today’s game is about ‘coming out’. All of the participants are to imagine that they are LGBT, and have known about their sexual orientation for some time, but have kept it secret until now.
Starting today, they are going to ‘come out’ and share that information with others. Let’s see what happens to them.
Rules of the Game
a. Going around the circle, each player takes a turn by spinning the dice and moving the designated number of blocks on the snakes and ladders board.
b. When learners land on a space that has a ladder, they can climb up the ladder and skip the intervening blocks. Where learners land on snakes, they have to slide backwards as indicated.
c. When learners land on the squares marked with a question mark they should draw a card from the pile marked with question marks, and follow the instructions provided for example, how many spaces to move ahead or backwards or to skip a turn.
d. The object of the game is to reach the end of game board
Once learners are finished playing the game, debrief the activity with the entire class using the following questions
a. How did you feel when you received negative reactions?
b. How realistic is this activity?
c. What kind of support do LGBT people need in order to come out?
d. How do you think LGBT people feel when they lose the support of those they love and care about?
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