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Exploring Gender and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 and Teacher Education: A Rainbow Assemblage

reviewed by Rhiannon Maton - February 23, 2020

coverTitle: Exploring Gender and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 and Teacher Education: A Rainbow Assemblage
Author(s): Adrian D. Martin & Kathryn J. Strom
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1641136170, Pages: 202, Year: 2019
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Adrian Martin and Kathryn Strom edited this volume, Exploring Gender and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 and Teacher Education: A Rainbow Assemblage, as part of the Information Age Press Research in Queer Studies series. It focuses on how schools might enhance safety and inclusion for LGBTQ+ school community members through practice, policy, and future research. It is divided into three sections (10 chapters) that draw upon critical content analysis, self study, and empirical research. The editors propose that together, the chapters constitute a “rainbow assemblage,” or, a “multicolored collage of voices” (p. 4) that strive toward enhanced educational equity and social justice for global gender diverse and LGBTQ+ communities.

The first section, “Exploring Gender in K-12 and Teacher Education,” examines the possibilities and realities of gender identity and expression in a range of academic contexts. Iida and Endo (Chapter Two) show that gender ideology significantly shapes the beliefs of preservice teachers in Japan about their future career expectations and income trajectories. Sullivan and Urraro (Chapter Three) examine transgender children’s picture books, arguing that such books are plagued by a problematic dominant medicalized narrative, which they name “the hegemony of transition.” They point to a small handful of picture books that offer counternarratives and, in so doing, advocate for greater diversity in trans storylines. Gerdin and Mooney (Chapter Four) adopt a Foucauldian pleasure lens to examine gender culture in several boys’ schools in New Zealand and Australia. They argue that pleasure “(re)produces heteronormative schooling cultures” (p. 53) while reinforcing unequal power relations. Overall, the section emphasizes the ways in which literature, teachers, and schooling reinforce (and might also counter) patriarchal patterns of gender normativity.

The second section, “Exploring LGBTQ Issues in K-12 Schools,” addresses how educators might create more inclusive classrooms and schools through queering curriculum and forming more trusting relationships with students. Hartman (Chapter Five) discusses the promise and problems inherent in teaching about diverse gender and sexuality identities through literature. He points out that because a critical engagement with such literature will often lead students to voice sexist and homophobic beliefs, educators should carefully think through their response to predicted comments prior to lessons. Bartone (Chapter Six) looks specifically at the needs of students in schools and discusses the navigation decisions and schooling experiences of Black gay young men. He argues that educators have a responsibility to integrate inclusive LGBTQ+ curricula into their classrooms and that they should strive to form humane and trusting bonds with LGBTQ+ youth in schools. Bravewoman (Chapter Seven) discusses the role of professional development (PD) in de-centering heteronormativity and promoting inclusion. Through outlining specific aspects of successful PD, such as discussion of school-site relevant anti-gay bullying survey data and collaborative planning with teachers and administrators, Bravewoman presents tangible solutions for improving school climate for LGBTQ+ and gender diverse students. Overall, the section provides insight into the needs of LGBTQ+ students in schools, while advancing helpful suggestions for moving educators and schools toward more explicit and vibrant LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

The third section, “Exploring LGBTQ Issues in Teacher Education,” reflects on how teacher education programs are preparing teachers to create inclusive educational contexts and how they can improve in their efforts to do so. Taken together, the chapters in this section advance the notion that preservice teachers, and their professors, must together counter heteronormative worldviews and move toward deepened understandings of gender and sexuality diversity. For example, Strom (Chapter Eight) reports on a self-study that chronicles how she came to “confront [her] own heteronormative gaze” (p. 129). She describes teaching a course on identity and social justice, and the ways in which the identities and interests of her students forced her to recognize the gaps in her own curriculum and in her own knowledge about LGBTQ+ experiences and relevant issues. The chapter presents useful tangible pedagogical activities and curricula that might be employed in other teacher education programs.

There are some limitations in the volume. First, while the volume offers implications for policy, I believe its strongest contribution centers on offering insights into teaching practice. At times, the volume provides some suggestions for policy solutions that might improve school climate, however the majority of chapters focus on how educators might transform their practice in order to create more inclusive and safer schools.

Overall, the volume provides provocative examples of how curriculum, teachers, schools, and professional development might push toward enhancing LGBTQ+ and gender inclusion in K-12 and higher education. The text offers practicing and future educators and administrators a relevant resource that is brimming with practice-based ideas for how to move toward a more vibrant and “multicolored collage” of LGBTQ+ and gender inclusivity in schools.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: February 23, 2020
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23218, Date Accessed: 1/21/2022 10:25:26 PM

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About the Author
  • Rhiannon Maton
    State University of New York College at Cortland
    E-mail Author
    RHIANNON MATON, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations and Social Advocacy at State University of New York College at Cortland. Her research examines social movements in education, teacher learning and leadership, and possibilities for stakeholder engagement in policy systems and processes. Current projects and research focus on teachersí political education processes in grassroots organizations and unions, the hopeful possibilities of creative alternative school structures for public education, and how critical professional development might support shifts in educatorsí worldviews over time.
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