Safety, Celebration, and Risk: Educator Responses to LGBTQ Professional Development

Jul. 10, 2012

Source: Teaching Education, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2012, pages 265-285

This article is part of a larger evaluation study of Reduction of Stigma in Schools (RSIS).
The Reduction of Stigma in Schools is a professional development program aiming to empower educators to create affirming environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (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.
The authors 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.

Updated: Nov. 25, 2013