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Creating safe spaces: Triggering the shift for sexuality and gender inclusive classrooms

July 24

In 2017 I had the privilege of being the recipient of the Dr Vince Ham eFellowship awarded through CORE
Education. This gave me the opportunity to undertake a research project that contributed to my journey1 of
helping to make Aotearoa’s schools safe for all gender and sexuality minorities.
I set out to work with a small group of teachers to develop their inclusive practice to make diverse students
feel welcome, included, and accepted at school. I was interested in delving into the teachers’ historical
understanding of sexuality and gender and support the development of that understanding. This inquiry was
to help appreciate what makes a difference for supporting teachers’ understanding in this area and what
helps encourage practice that promotes empathy and acceptance for gender and sexuality minorities.
I hoped that understanding the teachers’ journeys, both past and present, would help to develop gender and
sexuality inclusive practice in others.
The key questions that guided the work with the teachers were:
• How do sexuality and gender minority students know they are safe in your classroom?
• How does your practice support the disruption?