Supporting 2SLGBTQ learners is an important part of an inclusive and intersectional pedagogy in practice. Below are strategies that can be put into practice in courses and in individual communication practices to model inclusivity and move toward a more trusting space for learning for 2SLGBTQ learners.
Provide Space for Pronoun Use
Modelling pronoun use as an instructor can signal to 2SLGBTQ learners in the class that this is an environment where pronouns can be shared if they feel comfortable and will be respected.
- In class you can start the semester with “Hi my name is___ , and I use (she/her, they/them, he/him) pronouns.”
- On virtual platforms like Zoom you can add pronouns to name and this Knowledge Base document guides you through this process.
- You can also put your pronouns in your signature block on email. See the resources below for other information to support proving space for pronouns.
Co-Create Communication Guidelines
Communication and word use is foundational to creating trusting environments for learning. The kinds of words, terminology, and assumptions that are made in classroom communication can directly impact the feeling of trust and inclusion in a class. This also extends to online communication spaces connected to the course such as discussion boards or other tools that may be used. Giving space to co-create communication guidelines with students early in the term and leaving those guidelines open as a living document that can be added to as the term continues models the importance of meaningful and mindful language use.
Address Microaggressive Comments
Regardless of communication guidelines, there may be instances of use of homophobic language or assumptions in course communication which can be harmful to 2SLGBTQ learners. The Collins and Oldham article cited below in the references provides guidance on how to address microaggressions that may happen in class and how to use questioning to allow for reflection.
Use Inclusive Examples in Assessments and Activities
When providing examples or case studies in course assessments and activities it is important to model inclusive different types of family and relationship dynamics. Look at the names, pronouns and relationships that are reflected in the prompts and cases, are they heteronormative, or assume husband wife dynamics? If so rephrase these examples to be more inclusive of the students, instructors, and staff who are part of our UofT community.
Use Inquiry Models to Support Critical Thinking
Giving space in class that allows students to use inquiry models around assigned readings (whether they are from queer authors or not) and concepts will help expand knowledge and awareness. One strategy noted by Collins & OIdham is to use KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) activities as a way to help students inquire, summarize, and identify remaining gaps in their knowledge.
Reflect on Classroom and Office Space
Create an environment that can open conversations for 2SLGBTQ students. Including Positive Space or I will use your pronouns materials in your office or shared space helps model an environment of trust. Having these materials up year round and not just in June or during show your Pride times, if you feel comfortable, can create more opportunities for representation in your department, and on your campus. The positive space website has information, materials, and downloadable graphics.
Parry Collins, T. & Oldham, L.E. (2022). Multiplying the Possibilities of Knowledge: Queering Online Teaching and Learning. In X.M. Woodley and M.F. Rice (Eds.), Designing Intersectional Online Education: Critical Teaching and Learning Practice (pp.99-117). Routledge.
Sexual and Gender Diversity Office. (2022). All About Pronouns. https://sgdo.utoronto.ca/resource/pronouns/