When the Queers Come Sweeping Down the Plain: An English Educators' Guide to Serving as LGBTQ Allies in American Schools
KeywordsAmerican, Education, LGBTQ, English
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AbstractThe purpose of this inquiry, located in Oklahoma, is to create a public document that can guide U.S. professional educators as designers and teachers of middle and high school English curricula that welcome queer identities unique to one another based on race, class, ideology, sexuality, and gender expression. This work is focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth both in and out of school, who are constantly navigating their identities in environments often indifferent or hostile to their very existence. This educators’ guide describes the devastating and harsh realities of their growing and living in a world that favors heterosexuality and cisgendered identity. It situates these problems in the connections among schools, homes, and their surrounding societies and communities. When discussing LGBTQ issues, especially in red states like Oklahoma, very real considerations have to be given to political and religious beliefs that constrain how curriculum is developed, and how students of vulnerable populations are educated.
Finally, after grappling with concerns of faith and morality, and the overall importance of children’s general wellbeing and educational development, this work suggests how middle and high school English educators can rethink their curriculum to begin creating a space that includes LGBTQ identities, and allows straight and cisgendered students also to tackle their own assumptions on gender expression and sexual biases. Teachers, teacher educators, and other educational influences, such as librarians, play important parts as LGBTQ allies and as advocates for their students and their overall development as future members of a shared civic society. This work proposes that such teachers can become leaders within their schools, and begin to create environments that are welcome to a variety of personal identities both within their individual classrooms and also within the school community as a whole. Such teacher leaders must pursue individual research and personal learning to fulfill their roles as LGBTQ allies and advocates.