News, Teaching Stories

Queer-Friendly Classrooms: Respecting the process

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As we’ve frequently pointed to throughout this manifesto, creating queer-friendly classrooms is an ongoing process, and you will never be able to know everything about queerness or how to handle every situation. What we all must do, instead, is ‘embrace our own and our students’ partial knowledge,’ so that we can all learn from each other and work together towards a better classroom (Scott Winkler, 1996: 48). Gender and sexuality and our understandings of it will be in forever flux, and that, we think is part of the joy of queerness: its ‘unknowability’ (ibid., 50). What may feel very right within queer-friendly classroom practise today may feel ignorant in a few years time, and we also find joy in that, as it means progress will be made, and our eyes widened to all the possibilities of what it means to be human. 

We believe it would be a good idea to give students the option to anonymously feedback their experiences within your classroom, so that you can reflect on your approach(es). The anonymity of feedback enables queer students to help shape education, as well as side stepping the negative effects felt by direct confrontation (WELD LAB, 2022). We also suggest that you utilise your findings and experiences with other teachers to find commonalities and differences in the methods you’re implementing (Bachman and Gooch, 2018: 11). Resources such as these can help to create policies and enact further systemic change in the future.  

We do not want teachers to feel alone in this journey towards more inclusive and comfortable classrooms, and we wish that more was being done in policy to help guide teachers, but also so the burden of classroom safety does not fall so heavily on their shoulders. We also recognise the amount of labour that tackling the problems raised in this manifesto takes, and there should be monetary compensation from university bodies to train teachers more effectively. We know there are queer students and teachers in your institution that are mobilising to make these changes happen, and finding them is paramount to sharing queer-friendly classroom commitments, research, and knowledge. We sincerely hope that this manifesto has offered some initial guidance and comfort, as well as some further reading. We know it can be exhausting work, but it is rewarding work and we, as queer students, are grateful for your persistence. 

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