The purpose of this inquiry is to understand how student teachers reacted to homophobic rhetoric from students during their teaching placements. Focus group conversations with 111 student teachers over two years revealed their pupils' negative attitudes towards homosexuality and frequent use of homophobic pejoratives. How did these teachers-in-training deal with these attitudes and behaviors? Did they feel they had the authority, confidence, information, and/or right to challenge these attitudes and verbal abuses? We used a phenomenological lens to focus on the "lived experience" of student teachers dealing with homophobic attitudes, behavior, and speech. Through our participants' narratives, we identify four archetypal scenarios and responses that represent typical reactions of student teachers dealing with homophobic speech in their classrooms: avoiders, hesitators, confronters, and integrators. These archetypes reveal various levels of skill, comfort, and, moreover, willingness to address this particular discriminatory speech in American public schools. In order to move student teachers from avoiders and hesitators to confronters and integrators, teacher preparation programs and school personnel who work with student teachers need to explicitly address LGBTQ issues so that new teachers become informed on the topic via coursework, seminar, and clinical experiences so that they enter the profession with a set of skills that they can employ to counter instances of bigotry aimed at this group of students.
The High School Journal – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jul 8, 2010