Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, and Intersexphobia. With the move to online learning and teaching during COVID-19, equity education is more important than ever. Students who find support, solace and community at school may not have access to those pillars at home; our commitment as educators to LGBTQ youth cannot change. How will you mark this day in your classrooms this week and into the future as as online education continues? How can you check in with your students during this very challenging and uncertain time? How can we support one another and combat homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and intersexphobia?
We are very excited to share the news that Tara has been appointed as Vice Principal of New College, for a three year term (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2023). Tara has been teaching a course on Equity, Activism and Education in Equity Studies at New College for 7 years and will move into her new role as Vice Principal in July. Congratulations Tara!
International Day of Pink was created in 2007 after two high school students in Nova Scotia wore a pink shirt in solidarity with a student who was bullied for wearing pink. It has since spawned into an international day for supporting for LGBTQ+ youth in schools. Pink Day is often framed in schools as combating bullying and gender stereotypes, and more broadly homophobia.
Our work on the LGBTQ Families Speak Out project has shown both the potential benefits and neglect that initiatives like Pink Day can create. Our families have talked about posters and singular days that promote equality, diversity and inclusivity often do very little to challenge the compulsory nature of cis-heteronormativity in schools (Victoria, Garrett) While these days can also create a sense community and solidarity in school settings, it also relies on students to take action and call out violence and prejudice, rather than changing school norms, policies and culture.
We think, that part of celebrating and observing International Day of Pink every year needs to involve a bigger discussion about the school culture, how educators are critically engaging their students in conversations about LGBTQ identities throughout the year, while focusing less on the “phobias” associated with doing anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia work. We need to keep challenging discrimination, violence and oppression, while also celebrating, uplifting and empowering LGBTQ+ youth and families.
How can you take up the goal of International Day of Pink throughout the year? What are some ways you can begin to talk about more than homophobia in schools? How you start changing the culture of the school you are in?
This month the first member of our research team, Pam Baer, successfully defended her thesis study Queer isn’t a Choice! Queer is my Family! Collaborative Performance as Affective Pedagogy.
The study documents an applied theatre workshop for youth aged 10-13 and had two points of focus: the first was how young people and artist-educators collaboratively used theatre to learn about themselves, each other, and the world around them; and the second was about how young people from LGBTQ2S+ families used theatre and performance as a form of advocacy by sharing their stories and experiences through their artwork.
Working alongside youth participants, this research attuned to the relational aspects of theatre creation by drawing on affective encounters through aesthetic learning. Youth and artist-educators, including artists on our research team benjamin lee hicks and Kate Reid, shared stories, wrote songs, choreographed movement, played with puppets, and made books. The applied theatre work was self-revelatory, deeply personal, and created a powerful space for the youth to understand their everyday experiences on their own terms. It is an exciting thesis study which will be available on T-Space, the University of Toronto's online repository soon.
The research team held a virtual celebration of Pam's successful exam defense at our last research meeting on March 27, 2020. We are all very proud of Dr. Pam Baer's work! Below is a picture of Pam and supervisor Tara Goldstein right after the defense. Congratulations Dr. Pam Baer!
In this week’s blog, we want to highlight the importance of considering intersectionality in discussions of queer identities in schooling and education. Taking an intersectional approach to our teaching means making students aware of the multiple forms of oppression and privilege individuals face and how they interact with one another.
In our interview study, we had the opportunity to discuss Victoria Mason’s experience navigating the education system as a racialized, queer women within a predominately white school. She highlights the importance of educators to understand intersectionality as something to be taught and expected in the curriculum.
What happens when Black History Month is used as a token? When discussions of Black history and communities stop at the end of the month? When its powerful messages are not internalized? When it doesn’t include a reflection on how non-Black folks benefit from anti-black narratives? When it becomes a signifier of inclusivity instead of an appreciation and celebration of Black identities, histories and futurity? Beyond this month, what can educators do?
These are questions that arise every February at the onset of Black History Month, and become even more layered when accounting for the multiple and simultaneous oppression experienced by LGBTQ black communities, families and youth. Here’s a list of advice from our families and our research team that might be helpful in navigating these discussions:
Advice from our families:
Advice from the LGBTQ Families Speak Out research team:
artwork by joili on tumblr
This past month, the LGBTQ Families Speak Out team has celebrated LGBTQ curriculum and pedagogy by engaging in discussions on LGBTQ representation in curriculum along with providing resources for educators to use in their own classroom.
As we come to the end of January, we wanted to highlight the voices and advice from LGBTQ families from our study on how educators can implement LGBTQ curriculum and pedagogy in the classroom. Our website features a range of videos sorted in themes including advice for teachers, which provides various clips from our interview study on how educators can better support LGBTQ students and families in the classroom.
In the video highlighted here, Nicole and Mita discusses the importance of teachers breaking down their understanding of who LGBTQ peoples are and what they ought to be, to include an intersectional lens at the history and people who make up the community.
For more interviews regarding advice for teachers, please refer to the following link:
To continue our discussion on LGBTQ+ representation in the curriculum, I wanted to highlight an inclusive curriculum for teachers and community educators to teach sexual health.
As educators, we play an important role in building the self-awareness and capacity among young people to address sexual health issues. The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research has created Educator Guides that cover a range of topics including: Identity & Self Awareness, Healthy Relationships & Consent, HIV/AIDS Basics, and HIV Risk & Prevention. Not only do these guides include grade-appropriate activities and relate to curricula across all Canadian provinces and territories, but they also provide diverse discussions within the sexual health curriculum.
To get your FREE copy of these lessons plans, refer to the following link:
In our last blog, we featured Yasmin Owis' research study on LGBTQ+ issues in sex education and how educators can strive to make a more inclusive sex education.
To continue the conversation, I wanted to highlight a resource for educators called "Queering Sex Ed (QSE)". QSE is a new project at Planned Parenthood Toronto that aims to develop a sex ed resource with and for LGBTQ youth. This resource provides educators and youth with information on language and definitions, identities, body positivity, consent, and more!
For more information, check out the link below: