Category: Equity Diversity Inclusion

De/Colonizing Educational Relationships in Teacher Education Virtual Seminar Series | March 18, 19 and 25

  • Are you interested in identifying the issues around coloniality/decoloniality, unsettling teacher ontologies, and race and racism in teacher education?
  • Would you like to benefit from connecting with others and discussing an imaginary for de/colonizing educational relationships?
  • Are you looking for an opportunity to inform your research or practice?

You are invited to this free 3-day virtual seminar series:

De/Colonizing Educational Relationships in Teacher Education

March 18, 19, and 25 via Zoom

Facilitated by

Fatmakhanu (fatima) Pirbhai-Illich (Professor of Language and Literacy Education, University of Regina)

Shauneen Pete (Chair of the Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle, Royal Roads University)

Fran Martin (Honorary Research Fellow, University of Exeter)

Register at

https://uregina-ca.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJErcOqvpzgsHdyIeA1jFJa_Ry5AkRby6Xk6

Full program below (All events are CST Saskatchewan time) Click Here to download the Full Program with Schedule

Physical Education: 2SLGBTQ+ inclusionary or exclusionary?

Niya St. Amant is a Ph.D. Candidate at Queen’s University in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies in the discipline of sociocultural studies of sport, health and the body. She got into this field because she is interested in exploring the way that sport, health and physical activity work to empower and disempower certain groups of people and to work to bring to the foreground the experiences of these groups.
Dr. Alexandra Stoddart is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. She chose to become an educator (and a teacher educator) in the Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education subject area because of the way movement has changed her life. She believes everyone should have the opportunity to engage in quality physical education that will grow their love for movement.

Researchers Niya St. Amant (Queen’s University) and Dr. Alexandra Stoddart (University of Regina) have been exploring the experiences of current 2SLGBTQ+ preservice teachers and/or students who have completed their degrees and taken at least one physical education (PE) course at the University of Regina. Before discussing the project, first and foremost, the researchers want to acknowledge and thank all participants for sharing their experiences.

What led to this research topic was the traditional Eurocentric PE subject area. Alexandra says, “Traditionally, PE has been a Eurocentric subject that celebrates heteronormativity and masculinity. At the K-12 level, sex-segregated classes and a requirement to change out can cause 2SLGBTQ+ students to feel unsafe. As preservice teachers, students once again encounter this subject. It is critical that teaching at the post-secondary level is disrupting the problematic discourse of PE and not continuing to perpetuate the status quo.”

The project was based around the following two research questions: What it is like for 2SLGBTQ+ students to learn and be in a PE environment in 1) K-12 programs and 2) a teacher education program, and how PE instructors and professors can better support their 2SLGBTQ+ preservice teachers through their pedagogy, content, and beyond.

Niya explains that the reason it is important to understand student experiences in PE and physical activity is that, “PE and activity can be both empowering and disempowering for people, and it’s important to understand what about it disempowers people from participating and in bringing about other negative consequences, such as feelings of exclusion and alienation. Exploring how PE can be disempowering and exclusionary for 2SLGBTQ+ students is particularly relevant due to the way PE has historically treated sex and gender as binary categories and privileges heterosexual sexualities while marginalizing others. If we want people to continue to take up and enjoy PE in both grade school and postsecondary school, then we need to discover how PE can exclude and alienate 2SLGBTQ+ students in order to intervene and transform these spaces to be inclusive and welcoming.”

The study used an explanatory sequential design with two phases. Phase 1 included a cross-sectional web-based survey exploring 2SLGBTQ+ students’ lived experiences of PE both at the K-12 and post-secondary contexts. Phase 2 included 45-minute semi-structured individual interviews with a subset of participants from Phase 1. Additionally, interviews occurred with professors and instructors who had taught a PE course in the last few years. Student participation permitted the researchers to learn about the students’ lived experiences in PE courses, while faculty participation gave insight into what was occurring with PE pedagogy at the post-secondary level.

Initially the researchers struggled to recruit participants, especially with the study occurring during the pandemic. They got creative and used multiple methods of recruitment. In the end, Niya notes that “the 2SLGBTQ+ students who agreed to be interviewed were very receptive and grateful for the experience of being interviewed. They thoroughly enjoyed sharing their experiences (both good and bad). We had very fruitful discussions that were both instructive to the research and beneficial for them to share their experiences and to know others have shared similar experiences.”

Though the analysis has not been completed yet, the preliminary quantitative results indicate to the researchers that “especially at the K-12 level, we have a lot of work to do to ensure those in the queer community feel safe and comfortable in the PE space.”

Niya says, “A couple of things jumped out at me after doing the interviews. One was the fact that the students who appeared to have the most negative experience in grade school PE were the students not in the Physical Education Teaching program, and the ones with positive experiences were the ones who went on to seek careers as PE teachers. So, this potentially demonstrates how negative experiences in PE in grade school can lead to long-term negative thoughts and avoidance of PE. Second, the students all spoke about the importance of teachers introducing pronoun usage to demonstrate an inclusive classroom as one small thing teachers and professors can do to ensure 2SLGBTQ+ students feel welcomed and included in the space. For instance, teachers sharing their pronouns and inviting others to do the same on the first day of class. So, this demonstrates that 2SLGBTQ+ students are seeking more inclusive environments that stretch beyond just the PE environment and to classrooms in general, but are perhaps, most important in the PE environment where 2SLGBTQ+ students have faced particular discrimination and negative experiences.”

The researchers intend to use the findings of this research to help them change the way they do things in PE spaces and to promote and enhance 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion at the University of Regina, specifically in the Faculty of Education and beyond. “It is our responsibility in the Faculty to enact change and not put the onus and burden on students,” says Alexandra.

Funding for this project was acquired through the University of Regina’s Humanities Research Institute 2SLGBTQ+ Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity Research Microgrant.

Talking about gender and sexual diversity in education

As part of our Faculty’s efforts to further develop a critical consciousness of, and stand in solidarity with, those who have been marginalized by gender and sexual diversity (GSD) in the field of education and higher education, in this article a diverse group of panelists—queer, trans, nonbinary, and cis het—all devoted to the work and research of GSD, talk about about the current challenges; personal and professional experiences that have motivated them to do GSD work; and how universities, faculties, professors, school divisions, and teachers can better support those marginalized by gender and sexual diversity.

Meet the Speakers

Jacq Brasseur (BSW’13, RSW’15, MEd’21) is the CEO and Principal Consultant at Ivy + Dean Consulting, a firm they founded to “bring social justice and equity into the non-profit boardroom.” In this role, they provide Professional Development (PD) for teachers and schools for improving 2SLGBTQ+ competency. Most recently, Jacq has been focusing on working with faith-based schools in Saskatchewan, with various Catholic districts as well as some private schools. As a proud member of the Regina Catholic School’s GSD Committee, Jacq is working with the district, as they endeavour to support 2SLGBTQ+ kids.

“While I have found this work challenging, I have also found it incredibly rewarding—there are queer and trans students (and teachers!) in Christian and Catholic schools in Saskatchewan, and they deserve to feel supported and affirmed in their whole selves,” says Jacq.

When Jacq moved to Regina in 2017, they took on the role of Executive Director for the UR Pride Centre. Among many other responsibilities, this role involved providing PD training for teachers and educators in Southern Saskatchewan schools. They also oversaw the transition of Camp fYrefly and fYrefly in Schools programs from the University of Regina to the UR Pride Centre. (Read about their Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian and Community Service Award.)

Before moving to Regina, Jacq lived in Yellowknife, NT, where they co-founded what is now the Northern Mosaic Network, a 2SLGBTQ+ human service agency in Yellowknife, NT. Jacq worked closely with NT schools, educators, and the Ministry of Education to create more inclusive spaces.

Kyla Christiansen (BEd’91, MEd’14) is currently the Coordinator of Comprehensive School Community Health for Good Spirit School Division and Coordinator of Mental Health and Diversity for Regina Public Schools. Kyla has also served in many roles throughout her career, such as high school administrator, provincial school coordinator for fYrefly, Saskatchewan, GSA Summit coordinator, sessional lecturer for the Faculty of Education, and gender and sexual diversity consultant for five Saskatchewan School Divisions.

Dr. James McNinch (professor emeritus) is currently a consultant with the Saskatchewan School Board Association on a project about parent/teacher home visits. He is also conducting PD for Prairie Spirit School Division administrators and board members in the area of gender and sexual diversity.

During his 20-year career with the Faculty of Education, James served in a variety of roles: dean, associate dean, director of the Professional Development and Field Experiences office, director of the Teaching Development Centre, and Director of SIDRU (the Faculty’s research unit), as well as professor of professional studies. Particularly memorable was the anthology James co-edited and contributed to, entitled, I Could Not Speak My Heart: Education and Social Justice for Gay and Lesbian Youth (2004). Also that year, James created and taught a course on school and sexual (and gender) identities (EFDN 306). “This course continues to be an elective and has hopefully been updated to keep up with this dynamic field of teaching, learning, and research,” says James.

Camp fYrefly, a 4-day annual retreat that welcomes teens and young adults who identify as 2SLGBTQA+, has been an important part of James’ work over the years. As dean, he used his influence to help bring Camp fYrefly to Saskatchewan. James was program co-ordinator for Camp fYrefly and the fYrefly in Schools programs from 2016-2018 and he is still helping with fYrefly: “This year the camp returned to Regina as a live event after being online for the past 2 COVID-19 years. There were 57 campers and more than half of them self-identified as being gender fluid or non-binary. This is further proof that gender as a marker of identity is beginning to fade. It has already been 5 1/2 years since Parliament passed a bill (first proposed in 2005!!) protecting the rights of transgender and other gender diverse individuals,” says James.

Dr. Fritz Pino is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work. Fritz says her “research and community work have always been centred on exploring the experiences of queer and trans communities, specifically queer and trans sexualities and identities that intersect with race, age, class, and migration.” All of Fritz’s current projects are also centred on queer and trans lives. A few examples include the following: Fritz is conducting interviews to document the lived experiences of queer and trans Filipino immigrants to assess how being a racialized queer or trans intersects with migration and settlement in the prairies. Another project involves exploring the concept of social support of 2SLGBTQ+ faculty and staff at the University of Regina to contribute to the development of EDI related programs. Fritz is working on a manuscript about global transfeminisms, and the experiences of Filipino trans women during COVID-19 pandemic. She is also developing a graduate level course called Critical Social Work Practice with 2SLGBTQ+ communities, to be taught Winter 2024 with the Faculty of Social Work. Another area of her research involves 2SLGBTQ+ poverty and healthcare services.

Dr. Christie Schultz is currently the dean of the Centre for Continuing Education and an associate professor in the Faculty of Education. Since the early 2000s, Christie has participated in panel conversations, primarily in university classrooms, that have focused on gender and sexual diversity. In her work as a professional and an academic serving in a leadership role at the University, Christie works on being visible. “I think it is important to be who I am at work, to be a positive example of an out queer woman, especially for the next generation of scholars and leaders in higher education,” she says.

Dr. j wallace skelton is an assistant professor in queer studies in education. j has been addressing matters of sexual orientation and gender identity for 20 years, though as a queer and trans person, j has been engaging in systems of education for much longer. j’s work has included supporting and training students and staff teams, policy writing, research, piloting a high school gender course, conference organizing, planning for organizational change, mentoring teachers, running groups for trans and nonbinary children, human rights investigations, and assessing external partnerships.

j’s master’s thesis examined trans and nonbinary characters in children’s picture books. The findings led j to launch a press to publish the books that j and j’s husband wanted to see. With the understanding of the importance of listening to children and believing them, j’s PhD research invited gender independent and trans, nonbinary (GIaNT) children to show and tell what learning would be like if they were able to create it.

As a new faculty member, j says, “I’m currently very engaged in thinking about what it might mean for us to be a Faculty that celebrates sexual and gender diversity, and how to do that. There is a lot of faculty support for this, and I’m doing it with others, and it feels like an exciting place of possibility. We’ve not provided the support people need; we’ve not embedded 2SLGBTQA+ content across our curriculum, but we can, and we need to.”

What experiences brought you to the work and research of gender and sexual diversity? What was the need you were seeing or experiencing?

Fritz: I identify as trans woman of colour, born and raised in the Philippines. My work is connected and informed by my embodied social location and subject position. There is still a great need to increase trans literacy, and to develop scholarly, pedagogic, and policy interventions that address queer and trans issues of marginalization, invisibility/hypervisibility, oppression, and discrimination.

Christie: When I was an undergraduate student, seeing and learning from queer professors who I could admire made a big difference in my young adult life. Because of these professors, I could begin to imagine myself as both queer and professional—and professional in queer ways. (I know this wouldn’t have been important for everyone, but it was important to me in my young adult life.) In very subtle ways, they taught me I could be hopeful and I could be myself.

Kyla: As a rural school educator and administrator, I witnessed the impact of heternormativity, homophobia, and transphobia on individual students and my school community as a whole. Early in my career, I met people in both personal and professional capacities whose lived experiences were quite different from my own, and I realized just how extremely privileged I was because of “who I was and who I loved.” It became obvious to me that the moral and ethical imperative was to create spaces where my students (and staff) felt protected, respected, and included. In my educational career, I also worked for the provincial government. During that time, it became more about the “politicizing” of identities and I determined to become more involved in advocacy work. When I engaged in graduate work at the U of R, my commitment and passion for this work deepened, and I have been doing what I call “behind the scenes” advocacy work since—to create safer spaces where students and families voices can be heard.

James: As a man who came out later in life with the realization of my own sexual orientation and attraction to men, my journey out of the closet was an intense and sometimes painful process and it made me appreciate larger issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I was working with SUNTEP and the Gabriel Dumont Institute at the time and the struggles of the Métis, their unique history of marginalization, their ability to “see with both eyes,” and “to live in two worlds” and to act as intermediaries and go-betweens between two racialized solitudes, all of this was a huge inspiration to me. It made my “issues” seem trivial in comparison.

Jacq: I came out to my family and classmates when I was 11 years old—over 20 years ago, when children that young weren’t really as open as they are now. I lived and learned in a Catholic education context, and this significantly impacted the way that I experienced school as an openly queer kid.

I think I was really lucky to have progressive Catholic educators as parents. Both of my parents are established Catholic educators in the Northwest Territories, and they protected me unconditionally within my school system, and they were positioned to do so as educators and administrators who worked within it. I definitely experienced some homophobia from my classmates and teachers, but I think I was shielded from a lot of it because of who my parents were. I know other queer kids in Catholic schools aren’t that lucky.

Still, when I was in Grade 5, I approached my elementary school principal and asked if I could plan something in school for May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia. She said “no.” I walked out of her office thinking to myself: “You will rue the day that you told me I couldn’t do this!” Ever since then, I have had a strong commitment and motivation to work on improving learning spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ kids and teachers.

More recently, when I took my Master’s of Education at the University of Regina where I focused on queering curriculum and community-based curriculum development, I was in an early childhood education course where I heard my colleagues (most of whom were licensed and practicing teachers in Saskatchewan!) share anti-gay and anti-trans dogwhistles about queer and trans children. I was amazed at how many really competent teachers were spouting off talking points that I thought everybody understood were violent and obviously harmful towards 2SLGBTQ+ communities. This has led me to develop a stronger interest in queering children’s literature and queering early childhood education; however, I’m definitely not an expert yet!

j wallace skelton: GSD work and research is about me, my family, my children, my communities, and other 2SLGBTQA+ people who do not get the love, welcome, language, and celebration they deserve. For me, this question is like saying “Why do you work for justice for yourself and everyone you know?”

I was out as a queer person in 1990. By 1995, I was an official delegate for the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) to the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. I was lobbying with people like Palesa Beverly Ditsie and Dylan Scholinski. Palesa Beverly Ditsie is a South African activist whose work included ensuring that The Republic of South Africa’s constitution prohibited discrimination against on the grounds of sexual orientation. Dylan Scholinski is a trans person who spent his high school years in psychiatric hospitals undergoing conversion therapy, and who then became an activist against conversion therapy. I was deeply inspired by them both. Dylan and I almost got arrested, along with others, for supporting Palesa during her speech to the UN about the importance of supporting human rights of people of all sexual orientations. We were being taken down a long hallway by Chinese security, when Bella Abzug intervened by blocking the hallway with her wheelchair. Her aide got on the phone to the US State Department and Bella refused to move until they released us. It was a stunning moment of solidarity work.

Making queer and trans lives possible is about all of us engaging in community care. I am constantly inspired by people who do the ongoing work of making more possibility for themselves and others. It’s a giant group project and we inspire and support each other in it.

What successes, failures, or changes have you seen over the years in the work of gender and sexual diversity in education?

Fritz: My work has not necessarily changed over the years. However, I continue to engage in local or spaced-based research, community organizing, and advocacy. I believe that queer and trans issues are shaped and impacted by the politics and social structures of local settings.

The change I have seen, at least in the context of my work, is that the momentum of advocating for queer and trans lives has been magnified/increased. This is also based on my observation that queer and trans experiences of oppression and discrimination continue to manifest in varying levels, sometimes quite subtly within institutions and organizations.

j wallace skelton: I often remind cis het folks that we are still reasserting our own identities, and taking back our ability to name ourselves. Taking it back from medical establishments that want to pathologize us, taking it back from legal establishments that want to criminalize us. Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour continually have to assert their identities, value, being in the face of white supremacy and colonialism. Work I did a decade ago, that I felt great about then, now feels inadequate, and this work has to be constantly revisited and made better.

Fred Moten (2016), a Black thinker and philosopher I feel inspired by, when asked about the work of Black people said, “I love all the beautiful stuff we’ve made under constraint, but I’m pretty sure I would love all the beautiful things we’d make out from under constraint better.” Similarly, I think our culture has not yet seen what 2SLGBTQA+ people would do if we got to experience love and freedom. I want to get to see that. This drives my work.

It’s hard to write about successes at a time of push back and resistance. We’re experiencing more public transphobia, particularly directed towards trans women and trans femmes. Bathroom bans, bathroom violence, push back against Drag Queen Story Hours, barriers to participation in sports are about keeping trans people out of public life—they are about making trans lives unlivable. And that does not include challenges in accessing appropriate medical care, barriers to getting accurate ID, ways trans people experience violence and discrimination in housing, employment, and other spheres. I want to create the conditions where trans people can thrive, where all people have access to language about gender diversity, where there is freedom and where people are valued. We are so far from there.

And, there is more access to language. Some provinces, school boards and schools have policy.

We see moments of queering and transing curriculum. For a long time, work in education has been about accommodating individuals, and teachers can be really good at this —I’m very interested in dismantling the systems of oppression—the ways that sexism, cissexism, transphobia, and homophobia (along with colonialism, racism, ableism, and classism) shape our society and schools.

Jacq: Over the past decade, I’ve seen schools and school districts make huge strides towards 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion in their schools. Many school-wide GSAs are thriving, including elementary school GSAs, and regular celebratation of Pride month. This is huge. It has become significantly easier for 2SLGBTQ+
people to work with schools to become more inclusive.

But while I have seen immense growth from educational organizations on the topic of GSD, I also have seen a move to performative and neo-liberal approaches to this work. Schools are hoisting Pride flags and sharing instagram posts about their GSAs, but they are still failing at providing 2SLGBTQ+ young people with a queer-affirming space to learn and grow. Trans children continue to be misgendered and belittled by their teachers and administrators, elementary students lack intersectional and critical pedagogy related to GSD topics, and queer-inclusive sexual health education is still far behind. There is so much more work to do—and schools need to recognize that a Pride flag, while important, needs to be accompanied with critical and radical approaches to education.

I would also name that I think that the training of future teachers is improving around topics related to GSD, notably because the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan have invested more energy into finding faculty who focus on queer or Two-Spirit studies in education. Despite this purposeful effort though, I continue to witness both BEd and MEd students
discussing GSD topics with little to no critical lens.

Christie: I think gay-straight alliances (GSA) in schools have created safe spaces and conversations that didn’t even seem possible 25 years ago. I know there’s still work to do, but I am grateful for the work of every student and every teacher involved in GSAs today.

James: Like sexuality and gender itself, this field of study and practice is fluid and dynamic and continuing to change. For example, when I graduated from high school homosexuality was not only considered a sin, a sickness, and a perversion, it was also illegal and individuals were imprisoned because of their sexual orientation. In the space of 50 years, our society has rapidly changed its understanding of sexual orientation and gender identities and gradually now appreciates that difference and diversity is a strength for all of us and something to embrace and celebrate. The struggle for basic human rights and equity is as old as civilizations themselves and we have a much better understanding now that all cultures over time have always had gender and sexual diversities.

Kyla: Markers of success include the fact that many students are expecting to be seen, heard, and believed; school division policies and procedures are being developed to ensure students are protected, respected, and included; Provincial curriculum is more inclusive of differing identities; the Ministry of Education has a policy statement (2015) on GSAs in schools; and more students are “out” in schools.

However, school divisions need to continue to educate students, staff, and families about diverse identities, including gender and sexual diversity. Some school divisions have “pockets” of advocacy happening but many school divisions do not have policies that articulate their beliefs and expectations specific to gender and sexual diversity.

Identity is becoming more politicized and less personalized, which has created an environment of debate. People are navigating how to be “religious yet supportive.” However, parents/families who are gender and/or sexually diverse are expecting that their identities are included and represented in classrooms.

James: It has been a long time coming, but finally we are acknowledging that the teaching profession can be a place for the 2SLGBTQ+ community and that sexual and gender diverse teachers have a voice. It is almost 50 years ago that Doug Wilson, a gay Master’s student from Meadow Lake in the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan was fired by the Dean for placing an ad in the student newspaper inviting interested people to a meeting to establish a gay association on campus. The idea that a homosexual be allowed to supervise teacher-interns in the schools was considered to be immoral and illegal and not in keeping with the “higher standards” to which all teachers are held.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission failed to support him because sexual orientation was not included then as a “protected category.”

Today, young student teachers, including gender and sexually diverse ones, are demanding that their school experiences be free from discrimination and that they must not just be tolerated but celebrated and allowed to be their “authentic selves” in the classroom, for their own benefit, for the benefit of the students they teach, and for the benefit of the school systems and communities in which they teach.

What do you see as the current challenges around gender and sexual diversity in education?

Christie: I find myself regularly reminded that the work of supporting sexual and gender diversity—in education and elsewhere—is not done yet. And, even where gains have been made, I think it’s important not to take these gains for granted.

Fritz: There are still so many challenges. Part of it sometimes is the reluctance in the field of education to create change on their curriculum that does not center on the heteronormative. There is still backlash from conservative groups even around the existence of queer and trans people in the academy.

j wallace skelton: Many teachers don’t receive any training on how to create safe and celebratory environments for 2SLGBTQA+ people. Even teachers who want to be supportive may be unclear about how to do that, or if they are allowed to.

Schools are often not safe for 2SLGBTQA+ people. Sexism, heterosexism, and cissexism continue to be the culture of most schools. Homophobia and transphobia continue to negatively impact staff and students.

Students who are outside of heterosexuality or cissexuality continue to experience the epistemic injustice of being denied access to words for their own identities, to histories, and to possibility models. Schools often don’t have text books, curriculum materials, images, and other forms of representation. What they do have is often by and about White, able bodied people living middle class lives.

There is a rising conservative backlash that is making schools less safe for 2SLGBTQ students and for educators who are doing 2SLGBTQ work.

Jacq: I think that the rise in transmisogyny as a political strategy is really alarming. While some might think that this is only happening in the extremes in places like Florida, where we recently saw the Governor ban trans affirming health care for children, we’re seeing this transmisogyny manifest in our own backyards. Recently, a Drag Queen Storytime event was protested in Saskatoon, and although it may be easy to simply describe this as homophobia, trans women and trans feminine people are overwhelmingly the targets for this kind of rhetoric and violence. Those who study this transphobia have made direct links between transphobia and fascism, and while some people may accuse me of overexaggerating or being overly concerned, this link is clear to anybody who spends a large amount of time engaging in these spaces.

Until educators and administrators have a significant grasp of transfeminist theory and trans studies in education, we can’t hope to overcome this challenge. Trans girls in schools across Canada and the U.S. are being unfairly targeted and made into a bogeyman that transphobic and “gender critical” activists are using to further anti-trans perspectives.

Kyla: The challenges include a lack of knowledge and capacity; fear of backlash and a lack of support; absence of policy and procedures; competing “priorities”; and a lack of government leadership.

Allyship: How can teachers, professors, and administrators better support 2SLGBQT+ students?

j wallace skelton: Create a safe environment for all your students. Don’t allow homophobia, transphobia, or gender policing. Ensure all students have access to language, information, history about 2SLGBTQA+ people. Acknowledge that homophobia and transphobia are tools of colonialism. Ensure that students have a safe and confidential way to share their name and pronoun with you. Ensure that you always use their name and pronouns, that other faculty do, and that if you have a substitute teacher, they get the right information. Openly talk and teach about 2SLGBTQA+ people, cultures, communities and our lives. Listen. Your students may be more familiar with 2SLGBTQA+ people and cultures, and you may have a lot to learn from them. Find your own co-conspirators, people who will support you in this work. Build your own network of allies. Know that this is part of the work of equity and justice, and that this work is on going and intersectional.

James: Allies are necessary, needed, wanted, and appreciated, especially in a profession like teaching.

Jacq: I’m actually not interested in “allyship” in education. I’ve learned from Indigenous Action, about the idea of accomplices, over allies. Cisgender, heterosexual teachers and professors need to be willing to put their bodies, jobs, incomes and safety on the line for queer and trans students and colleagues who are experiencing violence every day.

This means queering your classroom by challenging the status quo and disrupting power dynamics in the classroom. This means teaching about queer and trans existence, no matter how young the children are. This means protecting a trans kid from abusive colleagues or their abusive family. This means recognizing that police in schools harms queer and trans kids, especially Indigenous queer and trans children, Black queer and trans children, and queer and trans children of colour, and advocating for the removal of school resource officers. This means breaking school administrative procedures that segregate trans kids from their peers in gendered activities, changerooms and bathrooms.

Christie: I would like to defer to the experts in teacher education on this question. But, I will mention that symbols of 2SLGBTQ+ allyship still matter—perhaps especially to those who are listening and looking for that support. For instance, for some, listening and looking, displaying pride flags, and introducing your pronouns (if you use them) will matter a lot. (Please don’t require others to share their pronouns, though; simply creating the space for the possibility of sharing pronouns is what matters.) And this might go without saying for some, but using an individual’s pronouns and name matters; do that.

Fritz: Support begins with the self. This means mindset or epistemological change. One of ways of contributing to decolonization is to decolonize our minds and gazes from the dominant understanding of gender and sexualities. There is need to take action in supporting queer and trans initiatives and advocacies; standing up for queer and trans folks and helping to center their voices and experiences, especially when thinking about implementation of curriculum, student training and development, research, and service.

Kyla: Teachers and professors can support 2SLGBQT+ students by education and reflection; listening to diverse stories; diversifying resources; establishing alliances for gender and sexual diversity; attending professional development; reading queer academic work; asking questions of senior leaders; telling students, “I see you, I hear you, I believe you”; talking about privilege; challenging microaggressions; and learning to call out and to call in.

How have you personally been supported in education systems?

Jacq: In my MEd at the U of R, I navigated so much frustration, but it was an instructor who taught me my first early childhood education course who really meaningfully supported me. When I reached out to inquire about a lack of queer content in the syllabus, she immediately apologized and committed to adding material, and while she invited me to share my own thoughts around what should be included, she also recognized that it wasn’t my responsibility to teach myself. She went out of her way to add content that was relevant to me and what I wanted to learn.

Above that though, when my classmates engaged in that week’s content in homophobic and transphobic ways—she validated and affirmed my frustration and disappointment, and made sure that I was accommodated and able to express this frustration with my colleagues in a supportive environment.

All that being said, the most active form of solidarity that I’ve seen throughout my education is when educators are willing to be queer alongside me—whether that’s publicly as openly queer educators, or after they trust me, finding small ways to share with me that they’re queer, too. I think that these types of mentorships, between queer educators and queer students, is what really builds supportive education spaces. That’s why schools and universities need to actively hire queer and trans faculty and staff.

Kyla: My graduate studies at U of R deepened my understanding of gender and sexual diversity from an academic focus. My role as a coordinator in school divisions has opened the door for my advocacy work.

James: I moved from Saskatoon to Regina as a newly minted and openly gay man in 1995 and the Faculty of Education and the University of Regina was welcoming, supportive, and ready to move with the times. In particular, I have former colleagues Dr. Meredith Cherland and Dr. Liz Cooper to thank for such a climate. They pushed me to go farther than I might have on my own.

j wallace skelton: In Grade 5, when people thought I was a girl, I was cast in a skit for the Christmas concert as a mouse. My friend Heath was cast as Santa. I wanted to be Santa and wear a beard, but the teacher was clear that because Heath was taller he should be Santa, and I, the shorter person, should be the mouse. Heath and I secretly switched the night of the performance. Peers and friends have often supported me through acts of allyship even when the official system did not.

Fifteen years ago, I was part of an integrated equity team for the Halton District School Board. One of my colleagues was a Muslim woman who wore a hijab. She and I would often lead trainings for staff teams together—me the queer trans person, her the hijabi-wearing married woman. Teachers attending the trainings would look back and forth between us, and sometimes ask if we hated each other. Suzanne Muir absolutely had my back at all times. I had hers. Our ability to work together and support each other was itself a powerful training tool.

In grad school my supervisor, Rob Simon, encouraged me to copy him on any email about any transphobic issues I encountered. All through grad school I would continue to encounter systems with the wrong name, or the wrong honourific, or refusals to print my actual name on my diploma. These are the kind of things that suck your time and energy away from your actual work. I would copy Rob, and he would first respond to the email expressing his concern and then phone the person who was responsible for that area and make them fix it. Knowing that I did not have to fight these battles on my own made a huge difference. It would have been so much better if the university had fixed its systems, but it hadn’t and Rob Simon used his institutional power to address them.

What are some examples of unsupportive behaviours demonstrated by teachers or professors?

j wallace skelton: When I first started doing this work, I had a high school principal, who asked me “Why should I let you, a young gay man, have access to children.”

When I was advocating for a trans high school athlete, his principal physically assaulted me, throwing me against a concrete wall. She said this was so I would understand what would happen to him if he was in the boy’s changeroom.

I’ve encountered principals who have told me it is not possible for them to have an all-gender bathroom at their school, or who have designed processes so onerous that students leave the building to access the bathroom. I’ve seen teachers send students to the office when they don’t believe the student is who they say they are, because they have decided the sex marker on the attendance is more authoritative than the student. Teachers who are homophobic, who harass students, who blame students for homophobic or transphobic violence they encounter, who don’t stop students who are engaging in homophobia or transphobia—An unspeakable amount of casual, thoughtless heterosexism and cissexism exists and gender stereotyping is endemic.

Jacq: Throughout the work that I’ve done to support parents and students in Saskatchewan, I’ve heard all kinds of stories from them about what they’ve experienced. Parents have told me that they were told by openly gay educators, in response to their complaint that their kids were experiencing transphobia at school, that “transphobia doesn’t happen at this school,” as if being queer means it’s impossible to perpetuate transphobia. Students have told me about teachers refusing to use their chosen name, because it’s not “on their file,” and that they were unable to learn about queer sexual health at school. I’ve heard so many stories, and it gets so disheartening, especially when a lot of these stories are about teachers and administrators who claim to be allies.

In my Master’s program, I had another professor who consistently misgendered me and the other trans students in her class. After weeks of this, I finally explained to her that when she misgenders me, it makes it harder for me to focus and learn. She responded with gratuitous apologies, but explained that it was hard for her, and she didn’t mean anything by it. She kept misgendering me and my friends. I stopped engaging in that class.

Kyla: Examples of unsupportive behaviours include using binary language; resisting someone’s pronouns; not acknowledging microaggressions; heteronormative language, resources, authors, and so on; a lack of conversation about diverse identities; and an absence of representation.

What is your advice to the Faculty of Education (and other Faculties of Education)?

Jacq: We need to go further than 2SLGBTQ+ inclusive education, or GSD inclusive education—we need to aim for queering education, for queer pedagogy, for trans pedagogy, and for education that liberates all of us from homophobic and transphobic systems.

Christie: Let’s keep doing the work–begin by continuing to recognize that there is still work to do. And let’s keep making things better for all our students.

James: My advice is to continue to explain, teach, and show and tell that every person in the world has a sexual orientation and a gender identity and that, beyond any simple binary, such diversity, complexity, and fluidity is not just healthy but actually necessary for social and ecological systems in the Anthropocene.

And don’t think of sexual orientation and gender identity in schooling as an “administrative problem” to deal with, but a human issue involving uniquely real people who deserve to be embraced with the dignity they deserve.

Kyla: I have taught the EHE 487 class a number of times. It (or a similar course) should be a required course for all education students. We should ensure that the co-operating teachers with whom we are placing our preservice teachers have the understanding of anti-oppressive education and to role-model. Ensure there is a balance of representation of queer authors. Create a forum for queer preservice educators and their allies to talk about navigating and thriving in Saskatchewan schools.

j wallace skelton: Most schools replicate the ableism, classism, colonization, homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of systemic oppression that are part of mainstream society. Education needs to be a place of justice, and that means challenging ourselves and our students to create equitable places where all students can thrive. Anti-oppression work needs to be explicit and intersectional. It needs to be central in teacher education because it is central to schools being just places. We can not teach as we were taught. We know that inflicted significant harm. We must do better.

 

Autumn 2022 issue of Education News is now available

In this issue:

Click image to read online

A message from the Dean… 3
Talking about gender and sexual diversity in education… 4
Physical education: 2SLGBTQ+ inclusionary or exclusionary? … 22
Alumni award recipient… 25
Student’s research finds gap in gender inclusivity in Dove Confident Me program… 26
Welcoming our new Elder-in-Residence, May Desnomie… 29
With Gratitude to Elder Alma Poitras… 32
A lifelong search for a good teacher… 33
Hard work and a little luck… 36
Retirement Celebrations… 40
Successful defence… 41
New faculty and staff… 42
New and interim positions… 44
Funding and awards… 46
Spring Convocation Prizes… 48
Published research… 49

New book | Leading With Feminst Care Ethics in Higher Education

Congratulations to Dr. Christie Schultz on her new book: Leading With Feminist Care Ethics in Higher Education: Experiences, Practices, and Possibilities.
 
Christie Schultz is dean of the Centre for Continuing Education and associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, Canada. She is a scholar of leadership in higher education, care ethics in leadership, and qualitative research methodologies—especially narrative inquiry.
 

A statement from the Dean on the Colorado Springs shooting

To our community,

Although it has been a week, I realize that there are many who are still grieving the loss of lives and ongoing trauma caused by the attack that occurred at Club Q in Colorado Springs Colorado. Please know you have our solidarity, we grieve with you. This was an attack on 2SLGBTQA+ people and their allies. Such attacks are unacceptable and sadly the are also increasing.

To members of 2SLGBTQA+ communities, and to those who care for, and are in solidarity with 2SLGBTQA+ people, you have our care, our compassion, our commitment to work to create more places of welcome and celebration and to make those places safe. You deserve so much better.

To other members of our community, in the wake of the shooting and the murders, we ask you to personally consider what you can do to make more welcome and safety for 2SLGBTQA+ people. This act of hate did not happen in isolation, it happened in a climate where all too often 2SLGBTQA+ are targeted for hate. We need to be clear in our support. We need to be clear that homophobia and transphobia are never acceptable and are never welcome.

We want to acknowledge that attack and murders occurred just before the Trans Day of Remembrance. That a community needs a day to honour their dead, and to say the names of those killed by anti-transgender violence is already too much. We know that transphobic violence increases when other forms of hate increase, and that those targeted are often young, trans femme or visibly trans, and people of colour. We commit to taking action against racism, transmisogyny, transphobia and other forms of hate. Our freedom is all connected.

The Faculty of Education is not perfect. And, I am even less so. I have been slow to find the words. My silence was borne of grief at a time of unspeakable pain. Whenever members of our diverse Faculty of Education community are hurting or members of our diverse human family are struggling through their grief, they should not be left to feel alone. Fueled by a desire and commitment for safety, equity, and justice my colleagues in the Faculty and I are united as part of a global community in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Here are three tangible things we were already working on, but which feel important to name now.

1. We are working to be clear in all of our documents that homophobia and transphobia are never acceptable in education. We are ensuring this is part of teacher training, and part of our relationships with cooperating teachers.

2. We are working to increase the resources we have available in the TPC for teachers to do 2SLGBTQ work in schools. You can see the current list, and this list will grow and become more diverse across this year: https://library.uregina.ca/c.php?g=606332

3. Out of our commitment that this work must be embedded in teacher training, we have hired a faculty member to specifically do work in Queer Studies in Education.

These actions are not alone. This work is ongoing.

If you would like to receive periodic emails about 2SLGBTQA+ events, news and resources in education, we invite you to join this list serve: 2slgbtqeducation@lists.uregina.ca

For our students, staff and faculty, if you need immediate mental health support, please visit the University of Regina Mental Health Hub https://www.uregina.ca/mental-wellness/

Staff and faculty can also reach out to the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) through Homeweb.

If you want 2SLGBTQA+ specific supports you may want to connect with UR Pride. While not a crisis group, they offer a number of peer support programs.
Trans people in crisis can call the Trans Lifeline (English and Spanish) [https://translifeline.org/hotline/] Canada (877) 330-6366

Respectfully,
Jerome Cranston, Ph.D.
Dean | Professor

New open access book published | Emily Ashton

Dr. Emily Ashton has published a new open access book: Anthropocene Childhoods Speculative Fiction, Racialization, and Climate Crisis
 
 
This open access book brings together the disciplines of childhood studies, literary studies, and the environmental humanities to focus on the figure of the child as it appears in popular culture and theory. Drawing on theoretical works by Clare Colebrook, Elizabeth Povinelli, Kathryn Yusoff, Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour the book offers creative readings of sci-fi novels, short stories and films including Frankenstein, Handmaid’s Tale, The Girl with All the Gifts, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Broken Earth trilogy. Emily Ashton raises important questions about the theorization of child development, the ontology of children, racialization and parenting and care, and how those intersect with questions of colonialism, climate, and indigeneity. The book contributes to the growing scholarship within childhood studies that is reconceptualizing the child within the Anthropocene era and argues for child-climate futures that renounce white supremacy and support Black and Indigenous futurities.

Project that exposes and interrogates racial disparities in the lived experiences of Black principals awarded $75K

Congratulations to Dr. Donna Swapp and team who have been awarded $75,000 (USD) from the Spencer Foundation’s Racial Equity Special Grants Program for their research project: “Decolonizing School Leadership across Transnational Spaces: Exposing, Disrupting, and Transforming Inequitable Colonial Regimes in the Work and Wellbeing of Black School Principals in Canada, Grenada, and Jamaica.” Dr. Swapp is the Lead Principal Investigator. Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Katina Pollock (Western University), Dr. Fei Wang (University of British Columbia), and Dr. Annette Walker (Health and Wellness Coach and Educational Leadership Consultant).

The $75,000 represents the maximum amount dispersed under this highly competitive grant. Projects selected for this funding must reach beyond documenting conditions and paradigms of persistent racial inequalities to disrupting the reproduction and deepening of inequality in education. Dr. Swapp and her team will apply a decolonizing, transnational lens to expose and interrogate racial disparities in the lived experiences of Black school principals across the different sites and co-construct with research participants anti-racist and equity-focused understandings, strategies, and recommendations for fostering more equitable arrangements of work and ameliorating wellbeing for racialized school leaders.

This project aligns well with the Faculty of Education’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Transformative Education Transformed, which documents our strategic commitment to “work collectively to identify and change the causes of inequitable systems of power and privilege” and our commitment to “develop and engage in a diversity of research and scholarly output that has local, national, and global impact” as well as the broader University of Regina’s Strategic Plan, All our Relations, and the attendant five areas of focus.

Award Recipient | Kelsey Mooney

Kelsey Mooney, MEd’22, recipient of Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award

Congratulations to Kelsey Mooney (M.Ed.’22), one of two recipients of the fall 2022 Faculty of Education Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award and  also the Faculty of Education’s nominee for the President’s Distinguished Graduate Student award at the fall 2022 convocation.

The Faculty of Education Associate Dean’s Graduate Student Thesis Award was established in 2021 to recognize outstanding academic performance of thesis-based graduate students (Master’s and PhD) in Education. This $2,000 award is granted to a student in a graduate program in the Faculty of Education who has exemplified academic excellence and research ability, demonstrated leadership ability and/or university/community involvement, and whose thesis/dissertation was deemed meritorious by the Examining Committee.

Mooney successfully defended her thesis titled, “A Community-Based and Mixed-Methods Approach to Exploring the Dove Confident Me Five Session Body Image Intervention in a Holistic School Classroom on July 19, 2022. Her Supervisor was Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose and Committee Members were Dr. Twyla Salm and Dr. Mamata Pandey (Sask Health Authority). The External Reviewer was Dr. Caroline Pukall (Queens University) and Chair was Dr. Amber Fletcher (Dept. of Sociology & Social Studies).

Research Story:

From a young age, Kelsey Mooney has dreamed of becoming a psychologist. To this end, after graduating from high school in her home town of Watrous, she completed her undergraduate degree, an Honours Bachelor of Science (with a Psychology Specialist, Criminology Major and a Sociology Minor), at the University of Toronto.

With a desire to return home to be closer to family and friends, Mooney moved back to Saskatchewan to continue her educational journey. However, Mooney felt some uncertainty about which route she should take to further her education: “I was uncertain on whether clinical or educational psychology was the right route for me, so I applied to both clinical and educational psychology programs and was admitted to the Educational Psychology program at the University of Regina in 2020. I chose the thesis route specifically because I wanted the option to potentially pursue a doctorate degree in the future and knew that completing a master’s thesis would prepare me well for doctoral research,” says Mooney.

The idea for the topic for her thesis took root in the first year of Mooney’s M.Ed. program. Growing up heavily involved in the world of dance as a competitive dancer and dance teacher, Mooney says, “I have witnessed many ways that an individual’s feelings about their body and self-esteem can influence their mental well-being. Because of these experiences, I have had a longstanding interest in promoting body confidence and self-esteem.”

In a Counselling Girls and Women course taught by Dr. Bree Fiissell, Mooney says, “We often discussed topics such as self-esteem, body confidence, body image, and the impact of the current societal emphasis on appearance on how women and girls feel about themselves. Through these discussions, I became further interested in how body confidence could be promoted to prevent the development of mental illnesses such as eating disorders, depression, or anxiety. Because of my longstanding interest in body image and confidence, I began to look into how I could transition these interests into my own research and that is how I landed on my own thesis project where I explored the effects of the Dove Confident Me program aimed at improving body confidence in adolescents.”

Through her research on the effects of the Dove Confident Me program, Mooney discovered “a gap in gender inclusivity, which may limit the ability for the program to improve self-esteem and body confidence. These findings were unexpected, but they identified an important gap in body-based education programs that needs to be addressed to ensure these programs are actually meeting the needs of adolescents struggling with body confidence today.”

This unexpected finding changed the course of her entire thesis. Mooney says, “I think this goes to show that even when research doesn’t go as planned, there is a lot of value in exploring where the research takes you to ensure meaningful results to this field of research.” Identifying this lack in the program ended up being the high point of the research process. Mooney says, “The highlight for me came at the end of my data analysis phase when I was able to recognize that even though the project did not go as planned, we were able to identify a really important issue and gap that is currently not being pursued in research in this area.”

As a recommendation from her findings, Mooney says, “If researchers or educators wish to improve body confidence in their classrooms and adolescents today, we have to pay close attention to the gender dynamics of these classrooms and ensure the material being taught is not promoting the exclusion of any individual’s gender identities.” Mooney hopes that her research will “prompt a larger discussion on how teachers, researchers, and intervention developers can promote inclusivity and create a positive environment for adolescents in their classrooms.”

As for future plans, Mooney recently began her first year at the University of Saskatchewan as a student in their 5-year Clinical Psychology MA/PhD Transfer program. She says, “My plan for the future is to obtain my doctorate degree and practice as a clinical psychologist.”

 

 

 

Faculty Spotlight | Dr. j wallace skelton, New Assistant Professor – Queer Studies in Education

Dr. j wallace skelton, Assistant Professor in Queer Studies in Education

As our spotlight series continues, we shine light on Dr. j wallace skelton, our new Assistant Professor in Queer Studies in Education. j says that students should consider taking a course in queer and trans studies because these courses “invite us to move beyond binaries, and to expect, respect, and celebrate people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” This movement is important because, “It’s about making classrooms safe and welcoming and celebratory for 2SLGBTQ people, refusing to see heterosexuality and cissexuality as normal—heck about refusing the idea of normal. It’s about centering the views, experiences, and knowledge of 2SLGBTQ people, and about queering and transing curriculum. For me, it means doing this informed by Queer of Colour Critique, Disability Justice, Feminism and Social Justice,” says j.

j is inspired by bell hooks’ vision of education, “as a place of community building, where love and justice are not only possible, but also necessary.” As an educator and teacher educator, j says, “I am committed to children’s rights and children’s agency, and to moving away from education as a practice where a teacher has power over students. Movements towards education as a practice of justice and abolition excite me. Our justice is tied together, and we cannot create equity for one group at a time. I see this work as intersectional: anti-racism and decolonization are essential to just education.”

The research j has done focuses on trans justice: “I believe that imposing the gender binary on all people is an act of colonialism and deeply harmful. Focusing on the needs and desires of trans people means elevating the voices of people most harmed by this imposition, and creating greater freedom for all of us. I’m particularly interested in the needs and desires of Two-Spirit, Gender Independent, Nonbinary, and Trans children. My work is about creating education spaces, families, and communities where such children are believed, safe, and valued.”

j’s personal interests reflect the work j does as a professor: “Trans justice. Queer liberation. Yes, those are also my interests at work, but my work interests have grown out of my personal experience and my communities. I’m a parent of three children, and I am deeply interested in supporting them and learning from them.”

As advice to students, j says, “Be willing to be wrong. Being wrong means taking risks. It means putting together ideas and then sharing them, allowing them to be tested by others. It means a commitment to learning and to trying again. I think it’s really hard to be wrong in public but that kind of risk taking, listening, and learning is a powerful way to learn. Ask questions. Faculty are here to support you, and we will see your questions as an indication that you are engaged, learning, and wanting answers.”