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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Strengthening Teacher Knowledge of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Issues

2007 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in New York, New York

Background

The policies of the National Council of Teachers of English have always supported fair and democratic schooling in a diverse society. The 1999 NCTE Resolution on Diversity calls on the Council to "affirm, seek, and encourage all teachers to include a diversity of perspectives, cultures, aesthetic responses, and experiences in the teaching and learning of English language arts." In the last decade teacher preparation programs have included more discussion of diversity issues. These discussions, however, typically omit or give only cursory attention to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, even though people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities belong to all racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and ability groups.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducts a National School Climate Survey every two years. The latest survey published in 2006, indicates that LGBT students continue to feel marginalized within their school communities. Fully 64% of the LGBT students surveyed report feeling unsafe in their schools. Respondents report that not only do teachers frequently fail to address homophobic remarks when they hear them, but sometimes they also make such remarks themselves.

Effective teacher preparation programs help teachers understand and meet their professional responsibilities, even when their personal beliefs seem in conflict with concepts of social justice. Teachers are almost certain to find LGBT students, as well as children of LGBT families, in their classrooms. The recent revision of National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards attends only indirectly to LGBT issues; nevertheless, it is the responsibility of all teachers to prepare students for citizenship in a diverse society. Be it therefore

Resolution

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English

  1. provide leadership for including the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in all teacher preparation programs;
     
  2. urge the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to require the study of LGBT issues in teacher preparation programs;
     
  3. urge NCTE members to address the needs of LGBT students, as well as children of LGBT families, and to incorporate LGBT issues in their work;
     
  4. urge the NCTE Editorial Board to be proactive in seeking strong scholarship in LGBT studies for publication and, where relevant, encourage NCTE authors to draw out the queer studies implications of their work;
     
  5. continue to address LGBT issues in its programs, conferences, publications, and advocacy initiatives; and
     
  6. publish guidelines and instructional materials and offer professional development opportunities designed to assist teachers in their teaching of LGBT issues.

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