In Support of Requiring Knowledge about LGBT Issues in Academic Studies
In Support of Requiring Knowledge about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Issues in Academic Studies as Part of Teacher Preparation Programs—2007
The policies of the National Council of Teachers of English have always supported fair and democratic schooling in a diverse society. The NCTE Resolution on Diversity (1999) calls on the Council to “affirm, seek, and encourage all teachers to include a diversity of perspectives, cultures, aesthetic responses, and experiences in the teaching and learning of English language arts.” More discussion of multicultural issues, bigotry, and intolerance has been incorporated into teacher preparation programs in the last decade. These discussions, however, typically omit or give only cursory attention to LGBT issues even though people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities belong to all racial, ethnic, social class, and ability groups.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducts a National School Climate Survey every two years. The latest survey, conducted in 2005 and published in 2006, shows that LGBT students continue to feel marginalized within their school communities. Fully 64% of the LGBT students surveyed report feeling unsafe in their schools. Respondents report that not only do teachers frequently fail to address homophobic remarks when they hear them, but that sometimes the remarks actually come from the teachers themselves.
Effective teacher preparation programs help new teachers understand and meet their professional responsibilities, even when ideas about social justice arise that can seem in conflict with personal beliefs. It is the job of such programs to ensure that new teachers are prepared for any situations they might encounter in their classrooms. Secondary and post-secondary teachers are almost certain to find LGBT young adults, adults, and children of LGBT families in their classrooms. Elementary teachers are most likely to find themselves teaching students who are the children of same-sex parents. Although the recent revision of NCATE standards waters down any attention paid to LGBT issues in teacher education and does not directly require attention to LGBT issues, all teachers are charged with the responsibility to prepare students for responsible citizenship in a diverse society.
Be it therefore resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English
- proactively support the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues as a part of all teacher preparation programs;
- urge NCATE to require knowledge of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues as a requirement for teacher certification.
- urge NCTE members to incorporate LGBT issues into their multicultural work in schools;
- urge the three conferences within NCTE: CEE, CEL, and CCC to continue to be inclusive of LGBT issues;
- urge the NCTE Editorial Board to be proactive in seeking good work in gay and lesbian studies for publication and, where relevant, assist other NCTE authors to draw out some of the queer studies implications of their work.