Teacher advocacy for LGBTIQ equality: teacher perspectives, changes and supports
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr. Matthew Holt
This thesis has interrogated the relationship between teachers, advocacy and the inequality of LGBTIQ students in Australian schools. Despite improvements in Australian schools, educational environments remain profoundly unequal for LGBTIQ students, who continue to face victimisation and exclusion through policy, the curriculum, teacher practice and their day-to-day interactions with peers. At the core of sexual orientation inequality is the ongoing conflict between neo-liberal and social justice ideals, manifesting most prominently through competing agendas regarding the role of the teacher in society. Because of the significance of this conflict, this study sought to explore teacher perspectives regarding LGBTIQ inequality in schools, as well as teacher perspectives regarding the role of the teacher in improving equality. Furthermore, this study investigated whether teachers could change their beliefs and behaviours regarding sexual diversity, as well as the supports required to assist and facilitate change. The study was conducted utilising an emancipatory action research cycle of planning for action, action, observation and reflection. Following a one-off semi-structured interview, six secondary school teachers engaged in six group sessions over six months. The research group, consisting of myself and the teachers, participated in group discussions, reflective writing, guided observation and analysed passages of their transcripts, in order to express perspectives concerning a range of issues regarding LGBTIQ inequality and equality in schools. The teachers also engaged in change strategies, demonstrating changes to their beliefs, behaviours and the practice of sexuality and equality. The study generated several significant findings relating to teachers and advocacy. The perspectives of teachers regarding diversity, their role in change, the role of the school and policy demonstrated the importance of awareness, and when awareness was lacking, the importance of exposure to alternative types of sexual identity. Regarding change, throughout the process, the teachers exhibited changes in their beliefs, in their emotional engagement, in their language and in the way they perceived the school and their own part in making the school are more fair and equal place for LGBTIQ students. Whilst awareness, fear and anger presented as prominent barriers in both engaging and committing to advocacy, the teachers were able to overcome these obstacles with empathy, collaboration and an orientation to their values.
Keywordssocial justice education; LGBT; critical pedagogy; action research
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