2018-2019 Graduate Catalog

EDUA 5654 Safe Spaces and Affirming Faces

Supporting LGBTQ students in schools can feel like a daunting task if structures are not in place to facilitate meaningful relationships and exchanges between students, teachers, and school administrators. According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), over 5% of high school students identify as LGBTQ. Research suggests that children are coming out (identifying as LGBTQ) at younger ages, which means they are faced not only with challenges that every young person encounters, but also with hardships associated with being gay. LGBTQ youth, for instance, are over twice as likely to report being threatened or injured with a weapon in school, twice as likely to skip school for safety concerns, and four times more likely to attempt suicide (SIECUS, 2010). The National School Climate Survey suggests that though some states and school districts are improving the ways in which they support LGBTQ youth, there is a lack of consistent progress.

This course introduces teachers to the history of LGBTQ movements and key terminology, describes how bias and discrimination impact the LGBTQ community; and reviews strategies for enhancing LGBTQ-inclusivity in schools. Additionally, teachers will gain insight into using online communities as safe spaces for promoting equality and visibility of LGBTQ youth in their schools and neighborhoods. Throughout the course, teachers are invited to connect inclusive approaches to their school- and classroom-based practices, so they can create safe, nurturing spaces that facilitate learning among LGBTQ students and their allies (peers who may not identify as LGBTQ, but support those who do and advocate for their rights).