Classrooms in the closet

Largest educational LGBTQ inclusiveness study releases results

Dr. Catherine Taylor.

On Jan. 15, the 180-page report of the Every Teacher Project was released, a study spearheaded by University of Winnipeg (U of W) cross-appointed education and rhetoric professor, Dr. Catherine Taylor. 

The Every Teacher Project study called on educators throughout Canada from kindergarten to Grade 12 to share their feedback on whether they felt their schools were safe and inclusive for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. 

The initial goal of the study was to get 750 teachers to respond to the survey, a number they exceeded by 2,650. A total of 3,400 teachers contributed to make the study the largest of its kind worldwide to date. 

“The Every Teacher Project report is the voice of Canada’s teachers saying ‘enough already,’” Dr. Catherine Taylor says. 

Some of the study’s key findings were that 97 per cent of teachers rated their school as safe for students, but only 70 per cent felt their school were safe for LGBTQ students, and only 50 per cent felt that their schools were safe for transgender students. 

A widespread awareness of exclusion and harassment of LGBTQ students, which ranged from homophobic remarks to physical and sexual assault, was found. 

Two-thirds of teachers were aware their colleagues were harassed because they identified as LGBTQ and only a few LGBTQ teachers were able to express their sexual orientation openly in their school. 

Lack of leadership and training resources being available was the main factor for teachers not practising LGBTQ-inclusive education. 

The Every Teacher Project was led by five researchers – Dr. Catherine Taylor (U of W), Dr. Elizabeth Meyer (University of Colorado Boulder), Dr. Tracy Peter (U of M), Dr. Janice Ristock (U of M) and Dr. Donn Short (U of M). 

The funding for the study was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and was sponsored by The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, the U of W, the University of Manitoba and Egale Canada-Human Rights Trust. 

Dr. Short, a playwright, author and associate professor of law at U of M, wrote the final report for The Every Teacher Project. 

“I’m really glad we were able to produce data about teachers’ support of LGBTQ-inclusive education practices in a Canadian context,” Dr. Short says. 

“There’s much that seems obvious to me, but you really need data to support calls for policies and proposals and the kind of work that needs to be done to make schools a place that’s safe for LGBTQ students, where they can feel connected to their schools and where they are embraced – not just recognized.” 

During her speech at the project’s standing-room only media event at Convocation Hall at U of W, Dr. Taylor touched on her battle with homophobia. 

“Homophobia is like a Red River flood. It’s widespread and it does a lot of awful damage. But it’s not necessarily all that deep and it doesn’t take that much to turn things around.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2016)

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