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UIC tops in training teachers on LGBTQ issues

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In the first statewide report card on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) presence in teacher preparation and higher education, UIC was the sole institution to receive the top rating.

The report, issued by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, examined how colleges and universities include sexual orientation and gender identity in antidiscrimination policies and student codes of conduct.

The report also looked at whether institutions incorporate gender identity and sexual orientation into teacher education programs.

Educating teachers on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity is important, the report says, because many LGBTQ students in elementary through high school face discrimination and harassment, as do those who are perceived as gay.

Forty-one of the state’s 57 teacher educational preparation programs received a failing grade. There was one B and seven C’s.

UIC earned 90 of the 100 possible points.

“We have a very strong institutional commitment to these issues across the university,” said Stacey Horn, associate professor of educational psychology and member of the alliance task force, which includes faculty from different Illinois universities.

“We have an office devoted to these issues, and within the College of Education I have pushed to have gender identity and sexual orientation included in the conceptual framework to keep it on people’s radar screen. Mostly, we are successful because we have support at all levels of leadership.”

Many schools failed because they lacked information on the Web or didn’t delineate categories in their nondiscrimination or nonharassment policies for sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report was sent to university and college presidents in Illinois and heads of teacher programs. The purpose was not to expose institutions with failing grades, but to spark discussion on how improve to programs and policies, said Therese Quinn, associate professor of education at the School of the Art Institute.

The report suggests how institutions can increase LGBTQ visibility and strengthen their policies.

“We expect teacher education programs to address all components of diversity — race, gender, ethnicity — and sexual orientation and gender identity are also important aspects of the diversity picture,” Horn said.

bethu@uic.edu


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