By Amy Reynolds
The secondary education track at the College prepares future educators for the classroom in many ways, according to senior English and secondary education double major Blaire Deziel. But when it comes to sexuality sensitivity training, the School of Education is in need of an overhaul.
“I had noticed that, at least in the secondary education track, we had a lot of racial sensitivity training, but we don’t get any gender or sexuality sensitivity training,” Deziel said. “The School of Education is severely lacking in this.”
About a year ago, Deziel reached out to Jeff Passe, dean of the School of Education, to try to incorporate LGBTQ training into the classrooms, but nothing ever really came of it, she said. She then reached out to PRISM, which had the means to educate people on sex and gender issues.
Megan Osika, president of PRISM and senior English, secondary education and women’s and gender studies triple major, also thought there was a lack of awareness about sex and gender issues being raised in classes for education majors. So she, along with other students and faculty members, organized the “Sexual and Gender Identities Every Educator Should Know” workshop, which wrapped up its fourth two-hour session on Thursday, Nov. 20.
“A lot of people come here with questions, and it allows them to have a face-to-face conversation in a really welcoming, discussion-type format,” Osika said. “It’s a pretty transformative learning opportunity.”
The questions, Osika said, can vary. The difference between sex and gender, why teachers shouldn’t be lining kids up as boys and girls and how to address homophobia in the classroom are a few examples of the questions many future educators have.
David Sanchez, a junior English, secondary education and women’s and gender studies triple major, said the workshop allows participants to gain an understanding of how to start conversations about sexual and gender identities.
“I feel like, a lot of times, we’re not provided with the training that we need in order to engage our students with difficult conversations about sexuality, about gender identity,” Sanchez said. “And a lot of times, it’s because it’s very stigmatized.”
Current faculty need additional resources, too, according to Osika.
“This isn’t just an issue for future educators or current teachers, this is an issue for our own faculty too. They need this information and they need training,” she said.
So far, the workshop has educated about 200 students, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, Osika said.
“My aspirations are that, one day, we won’t need a comprehensive workshop,” Osika said. “I’m hoping we will be able to put this into the classes, and people won’t have to see this as something extra.”