LGBTQ+ Research in Teacher Education
Pride flags and gag orders, a Queer as Folk reboot and white supremacists at Pride celebrations, My Two Moms and Me and “Don’t Say Gay”: this whiplash of dissonance is the backdrop against which we as LGBTQ+ teacher educators navigate as scholars in 2022. I was asked to write a post on LGBTQ+ research in teacher education — an exceptionally tall order. One post can hardly encapsulate the complexities, tensions, and exceptionality of current work in the field. Research specific to LGBTQ+ topics in teacher education might be broadly organized into a few categories: the lived experiences of Queer1 persons in teacher education, LGBTQ+ issues in curriculum and instruction within teacher preparation, and policies and practices directly impacting LGBTQ+ persons and issues within the realm of P-12 schools.
A powerful thread of writing in the field of LGBTQ+ scholarship are narratives that center the lived experiences of Queer folks involved in teacher education. This work explores the complexities, tensions, and considerations of what it means to teach while Queer to those who will teach. This scholarship is predominately qualitative in nature and takes multiple forms, including autoethnographic research, self-study, and qualitative interviews that directly give voice to LGBTQ+ persons. Queer scholars both interrogate their own experiences as teacher educators as well examine the experiences of LGBTQ+ K-12 educators and preservice teachers. First-person accounts necessitate the scholar to ‘come out’ to the reader, an act that is unique to LGBTQ+ scholars and their research participants.
Along with an exploration of the lived experiences of Queer teacher educators is a range of scholarship that investigates LGBTQ+ curriculum and instruction in teacher preparation programs. Recent studies have sought to assess if and how LGBTQ+ issues are included in teacher preparation curriculum, including the ways in which teacher educators who do not identify as LGBTQ+ are willing and able to implement curriculum. This work often dovetails on current policies impacting LGBTQ+ persons in teacher education and K-12, with a recent focus on book bans, curricular gag orders, controversies over supporting LGBTQ+ students and the assault on trans persons’ rights.
The diversity of scholarship at the intersections of lived experiences coupled with the unique nature of teacher preparation make it impossible to simply name drop studies or scholars. While the scholarship by and about LGBTQ+ persons is rich, it is comparatively sparse and many discussions conclude there continues to be a lack of LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum and teacher educators continue to navigate seemingly impossible contradictions. Queer faculty and students feel stifled in the heteronormativity of traditional teacher preparation as incredible scholars investigate the complexities, intersections, challenges, and joys of teacher education by, about, and for LGBTQ+ persons and their work in teacher preparation.
Lesley N. Siegel is an associate professor in the College of Education and Social Work at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
1 In this post I intentionally toggle back and forth between using the acronym LGBTQ+ and Queer to recognize the complexities and fluidity of identity within the community.