Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

(Un)Working Binaries, (Un)Doing Privilege: Narratives of Teachers Who Make Safe Spaces for LGBTQ Students
by Smith, Jill M., Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2012, 150; 10631269
Abstract (Summary)

Research about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth reveals that the presence of supportive staff contributes to the comfort and success of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students. LGBTQ students who do not have this kind of support are more likely to miss school, get lower grades, and experience depression. School safety and anti-bullying programs that are used to inform staff about how to be supportive, however, are often generic and do not name or address issues of heteronormative privilege in schools. In an effort to fill this gap, this study looks closely at the life story narratives of three high school teachers who were nominated by student members of a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) as creating safe spaces for LGBTQ students and my life story narrative as a teacher-researcher. These narratives offered insights into ways straight teacher allies identified themselves and were identified by students in a large suburban school. Findings of this study reveal three major categories of ally approaches: pedagogical, narrative, and collegial. Results indicated that all of these approaches had both strengths and limitations. Findings indicated that institutionally supported binaries including art/athletics and protect/punish were reflected in the ways participants performed ally work. Further, data revealed that these binaries were linked to heteronormative privilege. Explicit conversations about teachers who do ally work and the heteronormativity of hegemonic power structures in schools increases our understanding of how to better support LGBTQ students in order to develop authentically supportive curricula, policies, and practices.

Indexing (document details)
Commitee: Blackburn, Mollie, Clark, Caroline, Newell, George
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Teaching and Learning
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Binaries, Lgbtq, Narratives, Privilege, Safe spaces, Schools
Publication Number: 10631269
ISBN: 978-0-355-01539-3
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