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Broadening Understanding: Students’ Perspectives on Respecting all Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities in University Classrooms

By Danielle Nadine Pierre

Abstract

Oppression and marginalization of people who identify as LGBTQ+ persist on university campuses despite their right to be free of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code. In an attempt to highlight the real and detrimental impacts of normative heterosexual and cisgender ideologies on Ontarian students the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has committed itself to elevating student voices on this issue. OUSA conducted a mixed-methods, primary research project to provide understanding of the opinions and experiences of LGBTQ+ identifying students. Student responses were collected using an online survey, which yielded 311 valid responses from university students across Ontario. While most results were positive, findings that a fifth of respondents felt uncomfortable in campus life, accompanied by responses implicating instructors as a source of this discomfort, suggest there is an on-going need for educators to work harder to incorporate diverse perspectives about both gender and sexual orientation into university curricula. Content analysis of open-ended survey responses was used to describe the barriers students experienced. Diversity orientation and course content were referenced most often among open-ended responses. Diversity orientation was also most often cited as a barrier and problematic assumptions were identified as barriers more often than course content. Training was most often identified as a solution, suggesting this is a strategy that faculty can adopt to increase their diversity orientation and decrease problematic assumptions. Educators must recognize their responsibility for facilitating safe, empowering classrooms; this research offers seven strategies for accomplishing this goal

Topics: sexual orientation, gender identity, LGBTQ, gay, lesbian, transgender, student success, academics
Publisher: 'University of Windsor Leddy Library'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.22329/celt.v10i0.4753
OAI identifier: oai:ojs.pkp.sfu.ca:article/4753
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