ABSTRACT: Increased visibility of transgender children requires elementary school professionals to take on issues of gender diversity and by association, sex and sexuality, which are considered taboo in elementary school spaces. School professionals who have worked with transgender children were interviewed about their experience with these students, perceptions of their school’s success in supporting them, and recommendations for information and resources needed by schools to provide support. Findings indicate that fear and anxiety are common educator responses to the presence of a transgender child and the disruption of the gender binary, and these emotions are limiting the possibilities for schools to affirm transgender identity.
ABSTRACT: This chapter explores educators’ evaluations of school climate for LGBTQ youth. Analysis examines the limitations of their dependence on the “bullying” and “climate” discourses to frame LGBTQ student experiences of school and to access available educator and school responses. Conclusions assert that these discourses serve as barriers to envisioning more equitable learning environments for students.
ABSTRACT: Conversations about the creation of safe schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth often focus on eliminating individual acts of bullying and harassment targeting queer kids and fail to address the ways in which schools value and validate hegemonic gender. As a result, “current interventions…tend to conceptualise the problem of bullying in terms of individual or family pathology” (Bansel et al, 2009, p. 59), rather than examining the systems of power that persistently privilege specific groups of youth while marginalizing others. This paper aims to accomplish three goals: (1) Respond to the questions most often asked in discussions of safe schools for LGBTQ students using a sociological frame which views schools both as cultural sites in which students position themselves in terms of power- marginalizing those who do not conform to heteronorms - and as institutional structures and systems in which hegemonic gender and sexuality are privileged. This perspective is largely unconsidered in discussions of violence in schools in the United States. (2) Explore the possibilities and limitations of litigation and legislation for creating change in schools. (3) Propose a research agenda that moves beyond defining “the problem” in terms of individual-to-individual or group-to-group interactions and, rather, identifies school culture as the object of inquiry.
ABSTRACT: Research has explored multicultural teacher education from multiple, sometimes divergent perspectives, yet these studies agree that what passes for multicultural teacher preparation is often “ not multicultural at all” and focuses on “celebrating diversity or understanding the cultural ‘other’ rather than a commitment to educational equity” (Gorski, 2009, p. 309). This paper is part of a larger evaluation study of Reduction of Stigma in Schools—a professional development program aiming to empower educators to create affirming environments for LGBTQ youth. Interview data indicate that though workshops utilized a critical approach, what teachers embraced was a call to understand and “protect” LGBTQ students through the “safety” discourse –a form of understanding and valuing the “cultural other”—and investment in one time “visibility” or “celebration” events as symbols of improved school climate. Further, educators framed LGBTQ issues as “risk” issues rather than as equity issues, which continue to mark LGBTQ students as “victims” or “problems” in need of saving or solving. We posit that responses to RSIS content reflect educators’ understanding of their obligation to “diversity” as presented during their teacher preparation programs and that workshop content which resonated with them was that which they could easily fit into these familiar frameworks.
ABSTRACT: This paper describes the rationale and design of The Reduction of Stigma in Schools (RSIS)—an innovative professional development program that aims to empower educators to create supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students. Part of a larger evaluation study, this paper illustrates how the core design components are visible in participants’ experiences with the program itself and with working to create supportive environments for their students. Key design elements, such as the educator to educator program delivery, research based workshop content, and basing the program in a university school of education, were reported by participants to significantly increase the perceived relevance of LGBTQ issues for their professional practice. The paper concludes with reflection on the design elements which have proven effective, plans for expanding the model, and recommendations for actions educators can take to move toward supporting LGBTQ youth.
ABSTRACT: The Reduction of Stigma in Schools (RSIS) program began the work of educating school personnel about the school experiences of LGBTQ youth in Fall 2006 and reached the “1000 educators trained” mark in September 2009. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and this study explores the experiences of those who participated in the RSIS program over its first three years. The goal of the larger project was to identify successes and areas in need of improvement and to gain understanding of the meaning teachers make of their workshop experience in terms of their professional responsibility. This paper explores portions of the research relevant to the three workshop objectives and other evaluative data offered by educators on their experience.
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