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Why Some Schools Are Reluctant to Address LGBTQ Issues

Those who work in education know the learning never stops — even for professionals. But despite a push for inclusivity in K-12 education, some school administrators have resisted professional development around LGBTQ issues, expressing “fear and concerns” about discussing sexual orientation at school.  

A recent article published in Educational Administration Quarterly sought to understand that reluctance. The authors found administrators cited three primary reasons for avoiding LGBTQ professional development trainings: They “claimed such training was not relevant to their school contexts”; that “the training would attract community backlash”; and that “school personnel would not be interested in learning about LGBTQ students.”

The study was co-authored by Elizabethe C. Payne, director of The Queering Education Research Institute (QuERI) at the Hunter College School of Education, and Melissa J. Smith, assistant director of research at QuERI.

Payne and Smith concluded that school administrators must be taught to see LGBTQ students as “bringing value” to schools, not as “risks to be managed.” Administrators must also be made aware that inclusivity and academic success go hand in hand, and that schools must find ways to “interrupt” the “exclusion and stigmatization” of LGBTQ students. 

To shift those attitudes, training programs like the one QuERI developed — Reduction of Stigma in Schools (RSIS) — can help. RSIS encourages administrators to “examine how their schools reward gender conformity and heterosexuality.”

The article won the American Educational Research Association’s Article of the Year Award in Gender and Sexuality.

Beyond SUM

Work By

Elizabethe Payne (Director, Queering Education Research Institute) | Profile 1 | Profile 2
Melissa J. Smith (Assistant Director, Queering Education Research Institute) | Profile 1

Colleges and Schools

Hunter College

Bonus Content

"The Queering Education Research Institute" (Hunter College)