“As a lesbian and an educator, who taught in Arkansas K-12 schools, I have experienced first-hand many of the challenges facing our LGBTQ teacher candidates,” said Dr. Stephanie Huffman.
She lists challenges like acceptance, identity, K-12 school community supports, misconceptions, bias and religious beliefs as among the most prevalent.
Huffman, department head of the reading foundations and technology department at Missouri State University, is a member of the College of Education Diversity Taskforce and a leader of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy subcommittee.
These groups strive to create an inclusive environment for all.
“It came to our attention that a support system needed to be developed and implemented for LGBTQ teacher candidates, especially during teaching internships,” Huffman said. “These challenges can make an already stressful time that much more challenging.”
Building the network
The LGBTQ+ Advocacy subcommittee is developing the support system for roll out in fall 2021. Through the COE Advising Center, students will have support through:
- An allied database of area educators and school districts to assist with field placements.
- A COE LGBTQ+ student organization.
But this is just the beginning, Huffman notes.
“In addition, my door is open to any LGBTQ student.,” Huffman said.
Other supports will be added throughout the 2021-22 academic year.
“These supports will create an open and supportive environment in which LGBTQ teacher candidates can openly express who they are while growing as future teachers,” she said. “Our goal is to develop strong, talented and caring teachers for Missouri schools.”