Tag: Gender

Working the Intersections: Symposium brings practitioners in LGBTQ research to campus

working-the-intersectionsScholars who assembled at Michigan State University for the first National Symposium on LGBTQ Research in Higher Education focused on methodology and practice.

Among them that day in 2014 was Z Nicolazzo, a soon-to-be NIU College of Education professor who studies trans* collegians with a particular emphasis on trans* student resilience and kinship-building.

Nicolazzo’s memories from that event include hearing the loud-and-clear invitation for another institution to host the next gathering. Three years later, ze and Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education colleagues Katy Jaekel and Carrie Kortegast are the first to answer that call – and with a different and expanded premise in mind.

Called “Working the Intersections,” the second national symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 14, at NIU. Researchers, faculty, staff and students from across the United States and Canada are expected to attend.

“Our theme is really thinking about how gender and sexuality show up alongside a lot of other identities and experiences,” Nicolazzo says. “We were really intentional when we called for papers.”

“When we talk about things like gender and sexuality, oftentimes particular identities are left out,” adds Jaekel, whose research agenda includes the classroom experiences of LGBTQ students. “We want to be more inclusive, and we hopefully want to generate some new knowledge.”

D-L Stewart

D-L Stewart

Keynote speaker Dafina-Lazarus (D-L) Stewart, professor of higher education and student affairs at Colorado State University, will speak at 8:30 a.m. Kristen Renn, a professor of higher, adult and lifelong education at Michigan State University, gives the closing address at 4:30 p.m.

In between are several paper-and-panel sessions, roundtable sessions and a PechaKucha plenary session, all geared to illuminate emerging knowledge, trends and conversations of LGBTQ research.

Under the “Intersections” theme, participants will discuss the experiences of LGBTQ people of color – “it’s vastly under-researched in our field,” Nicolazzo says – as well as how LGBTQ identities coexist with disability, spirituality, religion and more.

Exploring these topics is critically important, both say, especially for those in higher education.

Many faculty members and Student Affairs professionals don’t put LGBTQ issues up for discussion, Jaekel says, because such topics are often considered “value-neutral.” Others believe they don’t know enough, she adds, or are afraid to misspeak.

“While many people think that because things like gay marriage have occurred, and there’s been an increase in civil rights, that these issues have been solved and everything is better,” Jaekel says. “The truth is there continues to be a group of students who have particular needs.”

Z Nicolazzo

Z Nicolazzo

And, Nicolazzo says, that population is on the rise.

“All indications are that there are three- to six-times more people identifying as transgender below the age of 18 than over 18 – that’s our college-going demographic. We have more LGBTQ students in higher ed, and we need to meet the diversity of our students, faculty and staff in college environments,” ze says.

“We also have a growing awareness that there are LGBTQ faculty and staff at institutions of higher education,” ze adds, “so I think it’s important to not only highlight the research of those folks who are LGBTQ but to also highlight the work about LGBTQ people.”

Both are excited that a large number of students have registered to attend the symposium.

“It’s really important for students, and particularly LGBTQ students, to see what Laverne Cox calls ‘Possibility Models’ – models of who they can become in the future,” Nicolazzo says. “A lot of folks who are interested in doing research, or are interested in teaching, but identify as queer and trans* might not think they can do it because they don’t see a lot of faculty who are queer and trans*.”

“Different privileges are afforded to some and less to others, so we really wanted to highlight that,” Jaekel adds. “A lot of times, we look only to experts for knowledge and truth about gender and sexuality. Students have much to offer us, and highlighting different voices and different positions, we can learn from one another. Everyone can be deemed the expert of their own experience.”

Katy Jaekel

Katy Jaekel

The College of Education colleagues hope their participants share wisdom, gain insights, create knowledge and leave energized.

“Because I know we have so many students coming as participants, one of my main goals is for them to develop some good mentoring relationships and networks that might last beyond the conference,” Nicolazzo says.

Hir personal goals likely apply to all of the scholars coming Oct. 14.

“I’m really hoping that we can continue to practice how we share our information in ways that are understandable for the broader public,” ze says. “I’ve become really good at talking to other gender scholars about why my work matters. What I really want to become better at is making my working understandable to people who don’t do this kind of work at all.”

For more information, email LGBTQsymposium@gmail.com.



Z Nicolazzo: Schools need more than just policies on bullying

Z Nicolazzo

Z Nicolazzo

For K-12 educators who attended NIU’s Oct. 26 professional development conference on “Bullying: How Schools Can Respond,” a quotation presented by keynote speakers Z Nicolazzo and Molly Holmes painted a difficult picture.

“The dominant narrative (of LGBTQ bullying) depends on an inaccurate premise,” Nicolazzo said, reading from a 2013 study by researchers Elizabethe Payne and Melissa Smith.

“It assumes schools to be neutral sites where all students have an equal opportunity to succeed and that barriers to success appear when individuals’ injurious behavior or attitudes create a ‘negative’ school climate where student safety and belonging are threatened.”

What’s more, the presenters said, the increasing visibility of trans* people in the United States is matched by a growing vulnerability, risk of harm and threat of harassment.

LGBTQ students are experiencing educational environments that are less than ideal. They continue to face a lack of acceptance. Their lives are not reflected or affirmed through school curricula – and they are aware of that deficit.

One recent study found that 22 percent of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from other students often or very often; 25.5 percent of students heard school staff make negative remarks related to gender expression.

“School officials condone this cruel dynamic through inaction,” according to the 2001 “Hatred in the Hallways” report from the Human Rights Watch, “or in some cases because they, too, judge gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth to be underserving of respect.”

ask-my-pronounsDespite all this, said Nicolazzo, who uses the pronouns of ze and hir, America’s “gender expansive youth are resilient. They continue to live they lives they want to.”

For example, ze said, the number of people younger than 18 who are identifying as gender-expansive is three to six times greater than the number of adults doing so. Meanwhile, gender-expansive youth are connecting online for kinship as well as exploration of gendered possibilities.

Encouragement is also available in the “trickle up” philosophy: If schools focus on their most vulnerable populations, the positive effects should “trickle up” and potentially impact all students.

Co-sponsored by the College of Education Office of External & Global Programs, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences External Programming and the University Center of Lake County, the conference covered a variety of topics on bullying.

Nicolazzo, an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, and Holmes, director of NIU’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, spoke on “Expanding Our Approach to Gender-Based Bullying.”

Among their key messages was the necessity of “enumerated” non-discrimination policies at schools – policies that outline not only the rules of conduct and the penalties for violating them but also statements of values.

Molly Holmes

Molly Holmes

Students who attend schools with enumerated non-discrimination policies report that they hear fewer homophobic and racist remarks than those in schools with no – or generic – policies. They also are less likely to perceive bullying as a problem at their schools or to feel unsafe.

But Nicolazzo and Holmes made clear that schools that are striving to create effective places for learning must update their policies at least every two years and actively enforce them.

Otherwise, Nicolazzo said, the policies are merely “caution tape.” They tell people what not to do, ze said, but they don’t really stop people from doing what they purport to prohibit.

“Pinkwashing” creates another problem, ze added, when schools and other organizations market policies of gender-inclusiveness but fail to carry them out.

The duo provided several other critical ideas for conference participants to ponder.

  • Educators must be diligent in the ongoing work of unlearning gender, specifically the how gender binary discourse structures school environments.
  • Educators need to remember LGBTQ students have agency to name their own lives, experiences and identities.
  • Educators need to seek and amplify counter-stories to LGBTQ deficit-based rhetoric and illogic.
  • Educators should infuse notions of gender throughout their curriculum.

“If we stop at having a policy,” Nicolazzo said, “we aren’t going to change.”



CAHE seminars scheduled

Emily photo for NIU

Emily F. Henderson to visit COE Nov. 10 – 11

The College of Education’s Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE) is proud to present Emily F. Henderson, assistant professor of International Education and Development in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick, U.K., who will conduct seminars on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11. Everyone is welcome to attend. (Descriptions of seminar topics are given below.)

What: “Teaching and Learning in a Shifting Terrain: Towards a Critical Higher Education Pedagogy”*

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015

Time:  Noon – 1 p.m.

Where: Gabel 146

 

What: “Gender and Education Research: an International, Intersectional Approach”**

Date:  Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015

Time:  Noon – 1 p.m.

Where: Gabel 146

For more information, contact Z Nicolazzo at 815-753-9373 or znicolazzo@niu.edu

* The higher education sector internationally is shifting in a number of different ways. Student mobility is growing and the map of destinations is changing. The purpose of higher education changes as employers demand more professionally oriented graduates and students conduct cost-benefit analyses of the time and money spent studying. Within this shifting terrain, questions of pedagogy arise. While ‘loss narratives’ of higher education abound which bemoan the conditions of teaching and learning in higher education, and the changes in students’ profiles and motivations, this seminar argues that there is potential for a critical higher education pedagogy in today’s university classrooms. The seminar is based on some of the findings presented in Henderson’s book “Gender Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning and Tracing Gender in Higher Education” (Palgrave, 2015).

** When we say we are conducting research on gender in the field of education studies, what do we mean? Is it a given that we will divide our research participants into two supposedly dichotomous groups (i.e., men/women), or that we will select one group from the many diverse genders that exist? How do understandings of gender differ across international contexts? This seminar presents a critical analysis of the concept of gender as it is employed in educational research, with a particular focus on higher education. Based on doctoral fieldwork in the United Kingdom, the United States and India, as well as institutional visits to France and South Africa, this seminar aims to push at the boundaries of the basic concept of gender that is used in education research.