LGBTI-inclusive teaching: The practices and professional learning needs of Tasmanian school staff and teachers

Year: 2018

Author: Coleman, Bianca, Beasy, Kim, Emery, Sherridan, Grant, Ruby

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It is consistently reported within the research literature that Australian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) young people experience high levels of bullying, harassment and discrimination in schools (see Hillier et al., 2010; Robinson et al., 2014). These experiences can have lasting detrimental effects, including the exclusion of LGBTI young people from educational opportunities. The research literature recognises a significant need for teachers and their schools to adopt LGBTI-inclusive teaching practices and to cultivate schooling environments that support the educational (and social and emotional) needs of LGBTI young people (Jones & Hillier, 2012). There is a small but growing body of research evidence that focuses on how schools, school staff and teachers support LGBTI students and what their learning needs are in creative inclusive school environments (see Bartholomaeus & Riggs, 2017; Page, 2017).To date, however, there has been limited research examining LGBTI-inclusive teaching in a Tasmanian context.
This presentations reports on some findings from a study conducted in Tasmania that sought to investigate the LGBTI-inclusive teaching practices of teachers and school staff and their learning needs in this area. The study, co-developed with the Tasmanian government-funded gender, sexuality and intersex support and education service provider, provides clear research evidence that teachers and school staff hold a range of beliefs about LGBTI students’ needs and the ways in which schools can/should respond to these needs. While this study was conducted within the Tasmanian context, this presentation outlines some of the study’s transferable findings which are applicable to schools and other educational institutions in Australian and international contexts.
This research matters for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex students for whom the school environment is not a safe place. The outputs of the research, including the identification of teachers’ and school staffs’ LGBTI-inclusive teaching practices and their professional learning needs, are designed to inform state- and school-level policies, practices and professional learning opportunities. Additionally, the learnings from this study are currently being incorporated within Tasmania’s initial teacher education courses to ensure lasting research impact and much-needed support for the state’s LGBTI young people.