“Distressing” Situations and Differentiated Interventions: Preservice Teachers’ Imagined Futures With Trans and Gender-Creative Students
by Elizabeth E. Blair & Sherry L. Deckman - 2020
Background/Context: Teachers can help ensure trans and gender-creative students’ opportunity for, and equal access to, education, yet the field of educational research has just begun to explore how teachers understand trans and gender-creative students’ experiences and negotiate their responsibilities to protect these students’ rights.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This article aims to address this essential gap by exploring preservice teachers (PSTs’) understandings of, and preparation for, creating supportive educational contexts for trans and gender-creative students, guided by the following research question: How do PSTs construct their responsibilities as future teachers to support trans and gender-creative students? Ultimately, this study aims to inform the development of effective teacher education curricula and related policy on trans and gender-creative identities.
Participants: Participants were 183 undergraduate preservice teachers enrolled in 10 sections of an educational equity course.
Research Design: We conducted a qualitative, inductive, thematic online discourse analysis. Using a queer, social justice teacher education framework, we qualitatively analyzed 549 online PST-authored posts.
Findings/Results: Three themes emerged: (1) PSTs voiced discomfort negotiating conflicting values and roles in supporting trans and gender-creative students, and PSTs suggested (2) individualized, differentiated interventions, and (3) community education approaches to promote comfort for trans and gender-creative students—strategies that may reinscribe normative, institutionalized views of gender identity.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings suggest the pressing need for innovative teacher education on gender identity and fluidity: PSTs need more opportunities to learn about supporting trans and gender-creative students, to critically consider constructs of gender and sexuality, and to explore how systemic gender oppression intersects with other forms of oppression through schooling practices.
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