Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Currin

Abstract

English Language Arts curriculums traditionally include canonical authors such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and William Shakespeare. However, educators may not discuss the writers’ nonnormative sexuality. Moreover, educators may avoid teaching literature from a queer perspective, whether due to discomfort with LGBTQ+ terminology or because of a lack of professional development opportunities related to queer authors and queer theory.

In response to this problem of practice, I conducted this action research study to change the heteronormative culture at my high school. By providing professional development to fellow English Language Arts teachers, I sought to encourage the inclusion of LGBTQ+ authors and themes. Data sources included pre and post surveys with Likert-scale and open-ended questions, as well as a researcher journal. The professional development sessions focused on LGBTQ+ terminology, heteronormativity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and queer theory and offered sample lessons to help the teachers analyze literature through a queer perspective.

The study confirmed English Language Arts teachers lack comfort and knowledge to incorporate LGBTQ+ authors and queer theory into their classrooms and pedagogy. Therefore, I recommend targeted professional development focusing on LGBTQ+ terminology and history, heteronormativity, queer theory, and lessons on incorporating LGBTQ+ authors and texts to help challenge heteronormative culture and increase English Language Arts teachers’ knowledge and comfort.

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