Developing LGBTQ Competence in Faculty: The Case of a Faculty Development Series

Developing LGBTQ Competence in Faculty: The Case of a Faculty Development Series

Annemarie Vaccaro (University of Rhode Island, USA), Howard L. Dooley Jr. (University of Rhode Island, USA) and Jessica A. Adams (University of Rhode Island, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5724-1.ch008

Abstract

Contemporary college campuses can be hostile and unwelcoming places for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) faculty, staff, and students. This chapter examines through the lens of structuration theory the implementation of an LGBTQ professional development series for faculty as an impetus to change such unwelcoming environments. The LGBTQ professional development series was designed to foster individual and organizational change by first increasing the LGBTQ cultural competency of faculty members, and second by providing these agents encouragement and tools to change unwelcoming structures within themselves, their organization, and their disciplinary influence.
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Introduction

Why is it important for faculty members to be culturally competent about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues? Decades of research have shown that college campuses can be hostile and unwelcoming climates for LGBTQ people (Bilodeau, 2009; D’Augelli & Rose, 1990; Gortmaker & Brown, 2006; Nicolazzo, 2016; Rankin, Weber, Blumenfeld & Frazer, 2010; Rhoads, 1997; Vaccaro, 2012). Embedded within research, either implicitly or explicitly, are suggestions that heterosexism, homophobia, cissexism, and transphobia are a part of the socio-political structures of education (Nicolazzo & Marine, 2015; Vaccaro, 2012; Vaccaro, Russell & Koob, 2015). Other research suggests that faculty members are the perpetrators or inactive bystanders of LGBTQ oppression (Rankin, Weber, Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010; Vaccaro, August, Kennedy, 2012). Without cultural competency regarding LGBTQ issues, it is possible that faculty members will engage in exclusionary praxis that results in oppressive curriculum, discriminatory policies, and/or painful interpersonal interactions with LGBTQ students (Danowitz & Tuitt, 2011; Vaccaro, August, & Kennedy, 2012). Faculty, however, can also be powerful agents of inclusion and change on college campuses (Kezar, Gallant & Lester, 2009; Ouellett, 2005). This chapter provides an overview of an LGBTQ Professional Development Series (LGBTQ Series) designed for faculty members at one research institution. After a brief presentation of the LGBTQ Series, the chapter offers rich, qualitative evidence of program impact on participants’ perceived cultural competency development. The chapter also details how the LGBTQ Series inspired faculty to become agents of change at many structural levels (i.e., classroom, office, department, college, university and discipline).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Genderism: The socially constructed and oppressive belief that gender is composed of a binary verses a spectrum and the corresponding privileges gleaned by those who identify as cisgender men or women.

Cultural Competency: The awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to work with individuals who are culturally different from (or similar to) oneself.

LGBTQ: Common acronym used to refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

Heterosexism: A dominant ideology that suggests heterosexuality is normal while other sexualities are deviant.

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