Pedagogical Approaches to Creating Safer Spaces in the Classroom

(Panel)


Pedagogy & Professional / Undergraduate Forum

Lindsay Bryde (SUNY Empire State College)

One of the biggest challenges for LGBTQiA students is the fact that there’s a constant question about whether or not they need to “come out” and how to determine who is safe to do that with. In a 2010 survey of 6,000 students and faculty, the majority of LGBT respondents stated that they avoided coming out because of a lack of safety and fear of harassment (Windemeyer Web). This panel will look at pedagogy approaches to fostering an inclusive environment and what to do when a student needs guidance and services due to their orientation. This forum is listed as an undergraduate forum to encourage perspectives from current/active students on the issue at hand.

If you have ever seen a rainbow flag on the door of a faculty member and wondered what it is, here is your answer: this is a safe space. The sign is a signal that faculty are open to supporting and guiding students, queer or not. It shows students, faculty, community members and administrators alike that there are places on college campuses for voices to be heard and tolerance to be felt. While the safe space designation is immensely popular and promoted by LGBT groups, they only work if the people who post them are prepared to support their population.

Some may wonder why we need safe space stickers, and it’s a reasonable question. Shouldn’t every place be a “safe space?” That answer should be yes, yet it’s a more complicated issue than that. Any safe space can be made unsafe based on who is in a room and/or what subject matter gets introduced. With that in mind, not all faculty necessarily realize the responsibility that comes with these signs of support for the LGBT community. The key then is that those faculty find methods that will help them to better guide students (LGBT and allies) in their education journey.

Windemeyer, Shane. “The Path Forward: LGBT Retention and Academic Success.” Insight into Diversity. April 15, 2016. https://www.insightintodiversity.com/the-path-forward-lgbt-retention-and-academic-success/

One of the biggest challenges for LGBTQiA students is the fact that there’s a constant question about regarding their need to “come out” and how to determine who is “safe” (a term with many definitions) to do that with on college campuses today. This panel will look at pedagogy approaches to fostering an inclusive environment and what to do when a student needs guidance and services due to their orientation. Participants are encouraged to present pedagogy methods for educating audiences (questioning, out, ally, and general) and fostering safer spaces. Papers can address approaches/lesson plans in the classroom, as well as resources for instructors in their service activities to the campus.