Inclusive Education Series: Teaching LGBTIQ+ students
OCT, 2019

Teaching & Learning
Good Practice
Inclusive Ed
Teaching LGBTQI+

Dr Janet Watson, Inclusive Education Project, Deakin Learning Futures and also LGBTIQ+ researcher and author.
The latest addition to the ICCB website is a rich set of resources to support Teaching LGBTIQ+ students. Conservative estimates from recent Australian research suggests that at least 11% of Australians may be of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity, with higher rates in younger age groups. This means a significant number of LGBTIQ+ students may be enrolled at Deakin. It is therefore important for staff to be aware of the challenges facing these students and what you can do to be more inclusive.

What are the key concerns for students?

Despite advances in social and human rights for LGBTIQ+ people, discrimination, prejudice, exclusion and oppression continue to plague many aspects of their daily lives. This significantly impacts their mental health and may lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide or suicidal thoughts. Invisibility in university student data and lack of curricula representation further compounds discriminatory and exclusionary experiences for LGBTIQ+ students.

What obstacles do staff face?

Staff often lack the confidence, knowledge and deeper understanding about LGBTIQ+ people and their language and experiences rather than being intentionally homo/bi/trans-phobic.  Not wanting to ‘get it wrong’ leads to saying nothing, which may further exclude LGBTIQ+ students from teaching and learning environments. 

What can staff do?

  • cultivate respectful learning environments
  • understand LGBTIQ+ terminology
  • use inclusive language, such as non-gendered pronoun usage
  • challenge discriminatory or abusive language and behaviour
  • facilitate open and safe classroom discussions about sex, gender and sexuality (where relevant to unit content)
  • represent LGBTIQ+ content in the curriculum and teaching LGBTIQ+ issues (where relevant)
  • avoid content that is negative, pathologises, victimises or sensationalises LGBTIQ+ people and their concerns and experiences
  • set flexible assessments (unit design permitting) that enables students to explore topics of personal interest
  • be a visible role model to students, whether as an LGBTIQ+ staff member or ally

For a guide on how to implement these inclusive teaching strategies refer to Teaching LGBTIQ+ students.  Included here is a comprehensive glossary and further information, resources and supports services.

Deakin case study: Introducing trans* identities to Health students

This short video by Dr Julie Peters—renowned transgender writer, activist and scholar—produced for HSH313 Contemporary Health Issues students, introduces and contextualises a contemporary LGBTIQ+ health issue within course learning outcomes and health profession standards. This was designed to both reinforce student code of conduct and anticipate possible student distress.

 A transcript can be downloaded here: A topic for HSH313 by Julie Peters (DOCX 23KB)  
[1] LGBTIQ+ denotes: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex, queer, and plus (which refers to those who identify or self-describe in other ways, and also includes allies).

Some Useful Resources

Teaching LGBTQI+ Students on ICCB  

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