During the World Congress on Comparative Education in Buenos Aires, I presented my Fulbright research on LGBT youth in Mexico City’s schools (photo: Steven Toledo/GLSEN).
Last month, I had the honor of attending a convening in Buenos Aires hosted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and UNESCO to launch a global network of activists and researchers to support LGBT youth in schools. Our daylong meeting created the foundation of a strategic plan for providing LGBT students and their teachers the resources, research, and advocacy they need to create safe schools for all.
Surrounded by advocates and scholars from over 20 countries, I learned how much global queer groups care about teachers and the work we do in supporting LGBT students. From Brazil to China to Slovenia and South Africa, the diverse contexts that students and teachers learn and teach in are being accounted for in the current research and activism of the global safe schools movement.
I’ve just recently returned from Mexico City after having spent six months as a guest researcher in the gender studies program, Programa Universitario de Estudios de Género (PUEG) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). My research focused on interviewing high school-aged LGBT youth on themes relating to gender and sexuality; coming out/not coming out; safety and discrimination; and their vision for making their school’s curriculum inclusive of LGBT themes and issues.
I could not have had a more life-transforming experience.
While I was interviewing 32 students, six teachers, and two administrators, I kept marveling at the fact that this was the most extraordinary opportunity to create change in schools on a global level. Here was a young man sharing how his mom didn’t hug him when he came out; and here was a young woman telling me how she was harassed at school for being transgender and how she had the guts to come to school wearing a dress when everybody else knew her previously as a boy; and here was a young woman telling me her dreams for making her school more respectful of all her friends.
And here was Fulbright giving me the chance to be a researcher, not as a PhD student, not as a professor, but as a teacher. Continue reading →
The 2010 Distinguished Fulbright in Teaching Award grantee cohort in Washington, D.C. (photo courtesy, AED)
Last spring, I wrote a series of posts on sabbaticals. After 14 years of teaching, I began thinking about the lack of resources that teachers have to engage in serious and innovative research. That’s when I decided to apply for the Distinguished Fulbright in Teaching Award. Much to my thrilled surprise, this past spring I received the award to go to México from January to July of 2011. Different from the longstanding Fulbright Teacher Exchange, which sends teachers to various countries throughout the world to teach their content area, the Distinguished Fulbright acknowledges that teachers are scholars.
The Distinguished Fulbright has three components. Once in their host country, educators are expected to 1) attend graduate level courses at a local university; 2) lead professional development workshops and conduct research at local schools; 3) complete a capstone project that merges their coursework and teacher research. Continue reading →