The Every Teacher Project is seeking input from local educators regarding LGBTQ-inclusive education and the needs for students as well as staff.
The Every Teacher Project is a national study that has been designed to receive Canadian’s input on LGBTQ-inclusive education. The first part of this project involved a national survey on teachers’ expectations, observations and suggestions of LGBTQ-inclusive education.
Currently, the group is seeking educators to take part in the Red Deer focus group. They would provide such information as how LGBTQ-inclusive education affects them and the impacts that they witness on schools and students.
“What we’re seeing is more and more research being done on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in our schools and how we can support them to move from simply surviving to a place where they can thrive in their schools,” said Dr. Kris Wells, assistant professor and director of programs and services for the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services at the University of Alberta.
“It’s one half of the equation – it’s also important that we are researching and understanding what are the needs of LGBTQ and allied teachers in our schools, especially if we’re asking them to make safe spaces for students. We need to make sure that they feel safe and supported themselves.”
Wells said that the focus group and larger research project are looking at barriers and opportunities for undertaking LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools. He said that Red Deer is ‘ahead of the game’ because of the recent implementation of comprehensive gender identity and sexual orientation policies.
“(The comprehensive policy) tells teachers that they need to be supported and are expected to address for example, issues of homophobic or transphobic language, and bring inclusive resources into the classroom,” he said.
“We’re looking at what else teachers need besides training – what do they need on the ground to happen. I think the experiences of LGBTQ teachers aren’t talked about often. We focus a lot on the experiences of LGBTQ students, but often teachers are still made to feel uncomfortable.”
The focus group has no set date as of yet, there is simply a call going out for participants. For interested educators, they may contact Kris Wells via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with their information, and then will receive specific information about the focus group meeting when it is available.
After the information has been collected, the data will be published and then explored so that recommendations may come forth for school boards across the country.
“Back in 2009, when that student survey was launched, not one school board in Alberta would participate. Now flash-forward to this survey – it is great to see that there is support from not only school boards but also from the ministry of education as well. That’s a sure sign of progress,” Wells said.
“As we’re implementing Bill 10, it becomes very important that we are supporting research such as this in our province. We don’t want to look at only the barriers, but the opportunities and what’s working well and how we share those learnings with school districts across the province, and then across Canada. There is tremendous work happening and often we just don’t know about it.”