“Be mindful of which voices are missing from the table. Seek out and amplify those voices.”

– Kalani Tonga

What does it mean to be an ally?

Allyships is a continuous process of learning about marginalized individuals or groups, allowing them space to speak their truths and respecting their experiences, and commiting to stand alongside them to promote change and equity.  Being an ally begins with self-reflection and actively identifying our biases, as well as our role in systemic injustice.

Visit Teaching Tolerance to begin your journey to becoming a better ally and help promote a culture in which everyone is valued, supported and heard.

Why is it important for our mental health?

Children and adults throughout the world sometimes face systemic oppression based on their race, sexuality, identity, or disability. Being an ally promotes their mental health and wellness because we recognize the struggles they experience and are there to provide support. When we show compassion for others, we enhance our own well-being..

What is the relationship between Social-Emotional Learning and being an ally?

Social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making are social-emotional learning (SEL) core competencies that empower youth to be an ally. Below is information about allyship and resources to use when educating students. Aligning these SEL competencies with teaching about diversity and inclusivity helps students begin to view the world from the perspective of others, and promotes an understanding of other cultures, social norms and life experiences.

Lesson Plans 
Standing Up for Each Other: Drawing Ally Superheroes
This creative activity helps young children develop social-emotional learning skills and competencies, such as self-awareness, appreciating diversity, respect for others, and communication.
From Greater Good Science Center: “Where We Stand”
This lesson helps students examine their response to everyday moral dilemmas and the influences that guide their reaction through self awareness, social awareness and responsible decision-making skills.

From the New York Times: ” I Can’t Breathe”

This lesson plan, which includes excerpts from New York Times articles in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and a short video entitled “A Conversation about Growing Up Black”, provides educators an opportunity to address racism while supporting social-emotional development.  Facilitating thoughtful disucssions about current events, students develop social awareness through perspective-taking and empathizing with others. Creative extension activities included in the lesson plan can also help students process their  own emotions about this important national issue.

For High-School Students
 Being an Ally Begins with Understanding 

Below are several excellent resources that explain the impact of racial trauma and systemic racism:

Racism has Caused Trauma for Generations: We’re Committed to Systemic Change, from Glenn Liebman, CEO, Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

The Trauma of Racism, from Psychology Today

A Psychology Professor Explains How Racial Trauma Impacts Students of Color, from Education Post

Systemic Racism Explained, from act.tv

How to Be an Ally to Your LGBT
Friends, Relatives and Co-workers
This article focuses on the importance of:
– Learning about range of sexuality
– Use proper pronouns, if you aren’t sure, ask
– Not sharing someones story if they come out to you
– Listen to them
– Speak up for injustices that impact them

The School Mental Health Resource and Training Center is a project of Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. with funding from the New York State Legislature and Executive.

194 Washington Ave. Suite 415
Albany, NY 12210
United States

schools@mhanys.org ~ (518)434-0439

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