LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Strategies & Best Practices


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Studies have shown that LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) inclusive curriculum and teaching strategies increase feelings of safety among both LGBTQ and straight students, improves overall school climate, and improves educational outcomes for all students. This workshop will explore rationale and strategies for integrating LGBTQ issues and topics into content areas. Participants will be introduced to challenges faced by LGBTQ students, rationale and research supporting LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, strategies for integrating LGBTQ topics into content areas, overcoming barriers, and best practices.

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LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Strategies & Best Practices

  1. 1.  What do you think caused your heterosexuality?  When and how did you decide you were a heterosexual?  Do your parents know you are straight?  Is it possible that your heterosexuality is a phase?
  2. 2. Lauren M. Kenney, “Being out and reading queer- inclusive texts in a high school English classroom” in Act Out! Combating homophobia through teacher activism. “I had never before understood compulsory heterosexuality so clearly as that day when I witnessed and participated in its enactment. [...] While I (and any other invisible LGBTQ students in that room) sat, passive, reduced to a hypothetical problem the straight people would have to struggle with in their careers.”
  3. 3.  Roughly 1 in 10 students identify as LGBT or report same-sex sexual contact.  Students who identify as LGBT are › 4x more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year › 4x more likely to have skipped school because of feeling unsafe MA High School Students and Sexual Orientation Results of the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
  4. 4.  The vast majority of LGBT students in MA regularly heard homophobic remarks, sexist remarks, and negative remarks about gender expression.  Most LGBT students in MA have been victimized at school.  LGBT students in MA often do not have access to in-school resources and supports. GLSEN 2011 National School Climate Survey: State Snapshot
  5. 5.  Individual students feel safer at school when LGBT issues are included in the curriculum (LGBT & straight)  School climates are safer when LGBT issues are part of the curriculum.  LGBTQ-inclusive lessons that are rated as “mostly supportive” of LGBTQ people/ issues positively affect school climate as a whole. California Preventing School Harassment survey (2006)
  6. 6.  Identify risks to LGBTQ students.  Explain why inclusion and representation matter.  Identify at least one way to integrate LGBTQ themes into current teaching practice.
  7. 7.  What do you hope to learn?
  8. 8.  How inclusive is my current curriculum of LGBTQ people, history and events?  What do I need to do to make the lessons I teach more LGBTQ-inclusive?
  9. 9. What do you as potential barriers to including LGBTQ topics in your teaching?  Assumptions of heterosexuality  Curricular gaps  Invisibility  Too “dangerous”  Too noticeable to confront
  10. 10.  Heteronormative : denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.  Heterosexism : discrimination or prejudice against homosexuals on the assumption that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation.
  11. 11.  Use inclusive language  Avoid the “foods and festivals” pitfall  Avoid scenarios which position students to feel pity for LGBTQ figures  Assume students are LGBTQ or straight allies (don’t position students as straight and/or homophobic)  Expect respectfulness and kindness from all students at all times
  12. 12. 6. Watch for connotative bias 7. Consider the power of words 8. Avoid negative comments about gender roles 9. Be careful about heterosexism 10. Confront bias 1. Don’t assume students are straight 2. Don’t assume being LGBT is a problem 3. Don’t “out” people 4. Let students self- identify 5. Don’t assume gender and sex are the same
  13. 13.  English Language Arts › Include books and stories by queer authors and/or about queer characters › Acknowledge LGBTQ authors of study (Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare) › Include or acknowledge queer readings of relevant texts
  14. 14. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Globe Theatre, 2013
  15. 15.  History and social studies › Acknowledge the contributions of LGBTQ figures (Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk) › Acknowledge the queerness of historical figures (Alexander the Great, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony) › Learn about key events in LGBTQ history (Stonewall Riots, persecution during WWII, Lavender Scare during McCarthyism)
  16. 16.  Foreign Language › Explore the status of LGBTQ people in target countries or cultures › Learn about third genders in cultures around the world (Femminiello in Italy, Muxe or Muxhe in Mexico, Travesti in South America) › Learn LGBTQ vocabulary
  17. 17.  Science, Technology, & Health › Acknowledge the contributions of queer scientists (Alan Turing, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton) › Analyze LGBTQ demographic trends and create charts or infographics › Include information for LGBTQ students when learning about sexual health
  18. 18.  Educate yourself!
  19. 19. 1. One thing you have learned. 2. One thing that surprised you. 3. One way you will integrate LGBTQ inclusive content into your teaching.
  20. 20.  Biegel, Stuart. The Right to Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America's Public Schools. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota, 2010.  Blackburn, Mollie V. Acting Out!: Combating Homophobia through Teacher Activism. New York: Teachers College, 2010.  Clark, Caroline T., and Mollie V. Blackburn. "Reading LGBT- themed Literature with Young People: What's Possible?" English Journal 98.4 (2009): 25-32.  DeWitt, Peter. Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2012.  Dunn, Natasha. "Diversity in the Classroom - LGBT.", 30 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.  Dykes, Frank. "Transcending Rainbow Flags and Pride Parades." SRATE Journal 19.2 (2010): 36-43.
  21. 21.  Holwerda, L. "Sexuality In Curriculum.", 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.  Krywanczyk, Loren. "Queering Public School Pedagogy as a First-Year Teacher." The Radical Teacher No. 79 (2007): 27-34.  Schrader, Alvin. "Nowhere to Turn, Nowhere to Go: Library & Information Services for Sexual & Gender (LGBTQ) Minorities.", 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.  Straut, Diana, and Mara Sapon-Shevin. ""But No One in the Class Is Gay": Countering Invisibility and Creating Allies in Teacher Education Programs." Getting Ready for Benjamin. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. 29-41.  Weinberg, Michael. "LGBT-Inclusive Language." English Journal 98.4 (2009): 50-51.