LGBTQ inclusion in Educator preparation: getting ready for gender and sexual diversity in secondary school settings

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LGBTQ inclusion in Educator preparation: getting ready for gender and sexual diversity in secondary school settings

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While many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students are able to resiliently navigate their public school education many others experience harsh school climates and negative health and educational outcomes. Harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students in school environments have been linked to numerous negative psychological and academic outcomes for students diverse in sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Preparing teacher candidates (TCs) to respond effectively to harassment and bullying of students and to create inclusive curriculum has been recommended to improve outcomes for students. Yet the development of these teaching practices has not been pursued broadly in educator preparation programs (EPPs) or specifically in science EPPs (SEPPs). This dissertation broadens the notion of diversity traditionally attended to in EPPs through three studies. The first study is a holistic single-case study of an LGBTQ-inclusive EPP. It focused on the following three research questions: What were the contextual features that surrounded the LGBTQ-inclusive EPP? What were the specific elements of LGBTQ inclusion in the EPP? And, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the LGBTQ-inclusive EPP? This study drew primarily from data collected from interviews with faculty and administrators in a large post-baccalaureate 5th year preparation for licensure program. Document analysis was used to triangulate and expand upon the data collected during the interviews. A framework for analyzing LGBTQ inclusion across the components of an EPP was developed as part of this study. This study has direct implications for the particular EPP, but also clarifies research needs around LGBTQ inclusion in secondary EPPs. While little has research exists about LGBTQ inclusion in EPPs, far less has been attempted and understood in the discipline of secondary life science. The second study thus narrows its focus from the particulars of LGBTQ inclusion in an EPP to the possibilities for LGBTQ inclusion in life science educator preparation. This study, thus, is theoretical as it sets about exploring possibilities for LGBTQ inclusion across life science education curriculum by drawing from the literature about the needs of LGBT and questioning students, the small amount of scholarly work related to science teacher education, and other scholarly work that relates to preparing teachers for gender and sexual diversity in secondary settings. The second study explored possibilities for LGBTQ inclusion in science teacher education. The third study, a holistic multiple-case study, explored science teacher candidates' adoption of LGBTQ inclusion in their praxis during a science EPP (SEPP). The research questions guiding this study were: what were science TCs' commitments to LGBTQ-inclusive praxis? What were science TCs' enactments of LGBTQ-inclusive praxis? And, what supports and barriers influenced TCs' commitment to and enactment of LGBTQ-inclusive praxis during the SEPP? Understanding these commitments, enactments, and the supports and barriers to them will benefit the particular SEPP and contribute to greater understanding of the capacities and needs of science TCs as they are challenged to fully welcome and educate the diversity of learners who enter their classrooms. The set of studies concludes with a discussion of implications for EPPs and future research that may lead to the realization of a vision of classroom practices that are inclusive of LGBTQ students for the benefit of schools and communities.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2014. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Gillian Heather Roehrig. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 192 pages.

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Hoelscher, Mary Helen. (2014). LGBTQ inclusion in Educator preparation: getting ready for gender and sexual diversity in secondary school settings. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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