Educate Out Loud: A Research and Practice Symposium

Photo of Monica Roberts at the inaugural Educate Out Loud symposium

In March 2020, the College of Education proudly hosted the inaugural Educate Out Loud: A Research and Practice Symposium dedicated to exploring issues and topics related to LGBTQ+ people in teacher preparation, higher education, and the field of education generally. LGBTQ+ issues in education deserve more attention, insight, and action. 

Inaugural Speakers

Photo of Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, Founding Editor of TransGriot

Monica Roberts (she/her/hers), AKA the TransGriot (Gree-oh) is a native Houstonian, GLAAD award-winning blogger, writer, and award-winning trans human rights advocate. She's the founding editor of TransGriot, and her writing has appeared at the Bilerico Project,, The Huffington Post and the Advocate. She works to foster understanding and acceptance of trans people inside and outside communities of color. Among her many honors are the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award, and the Robert Coles Call of Service Award.

Photo of Reginald Blockett

Dr. Reginald Blockett, Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University

Dr. Reginald Blockett (open/flexible pronouns) is a professor at Grand Valley State University in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling. Dr. Blockett received his Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University and has a B.A. in sociology, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. He uses sociology and education as a lens to explore the sociocultural experiences of LGBTQ+ students of color, socialization, social justice and pedagogy in education. He uses a queer of color critique and intersectionality to understand the experiences and choices of Black queer college students. His focus on Black and Brown LGBTQ+ college students is imperative in a predominantly white space. Dr. Blockett holds positions in numerous professional associations and has both published and presented amongst the leading scholars in higher education.

Photo of Catherine Connell

Dr. Catherine Connell, Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston University

Dr. Catherine Connell (she/her/hers) work focuses on the intersections of gender, sexuality, and work/organizations. Her first book, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom was published in 2015 by the University of California Press. Her current book project, A Few Good Gays: The US Military’s Incomplete Gender & Sexuality Revolution, focuses on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the gender integration of combat, and the ongoing question of transgender inclusion. Dr. Connell is an alumnus of UT Austin, where she received her PhD in sociology. Her publications intersect throughout sociology, women and gender studies, education, human development, and more.

Photo of Elizabeth Payne

Dr. Elizabethe C. Payne, Founder and Director of QuERI

Dr. Elizabethe Payne is founder and director of QuERI – The Queering Education Research Institute and is education faculty at the City University of New York, Hunter College. A sociologist of education, her current research explores educator experiences working with transgender students, educator professional development addressing gender and sexuality, and state-level LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying policy and its implementation. Dr. Payne serves on the New York State Dignity for All Students Act Task Force and works directly with the New York State Education Department and the State legislature toward more effective research-based policy. Her applied work also addresses state level sex education and HIV education policy, and policies related to school climate. QuERI is on twitter & FB @QueeringEDU.

Photo of Stephen Russell

Dr. Stephen Russell Principal Investigator for the Sexual Identity and Gender Identity: Health Right

Dr. Stephen Russell (he/him/his) joined the faculty in Human Development and Family Sciences and the Population Research Center in the summer of 2015. He studies adolescent development, with an emphasis on adolescent sexuality, LGBT youth, and parent-adolescent relationships. Much of his research is guided by a commitment to create social change to support healthy adolescent development. He am most proud of his research that has been used to shape local and state policies and laws for school safety, and his most rewarding work is with trainees: he works with an amazing group of postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and he finds supporting their development and learning from them to be the most satisfying part of his job.

Photo of Gabriela Coelho

Gabriela D Coelho, Student, UT Austin

Gabriela Coelho (she/hers/her) is in her final semester at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is majoring in Special Education and Plan II, and earning a minor in Philosophy. Her undergraduate research focuses on elementary teachers' perceptions and use of student assessment data. After graduation, she plans to teach and then pursue higher education within the area of educational policy or educational law. As a future teacher, Gabriela is interested in exploring how LGBTQ+ professionals navigate educational systems and hierarchies to better understand how she can feel safe and supported in schools, while simultaneously creating a safe space for all her students to be their authentic selves.

Queer Methods in Education Research by Dr. Cati Connell

Across the social sciences and humanities, “queer methods” is having its moment. Various approaches to queering the research process have been the subjects of a number of edited volumes, special issues, and conferences of late. What might it mean to queer methods specifically in education? What are the particular challenges and rewards of doing queer methods in this particular area of research? In this session, we will discuss the meaning of queer methods, how this approach might be especially fruitful (and difficult) in the context of education research, and what taking a queer approach to your own research might mean. This session will be especially useful for those engaged directly in research, but could also be generative for instructors who teach research methods or skills in courses at any level (primary, secondary, or post-secondary education).

How to Best Support Queer & Trans Colleagues at Work: It's More Than Just Pronouns

Many of the resources educators receive about supporting LGBTQIA+ folks are geared toward students, while this is important (and life-saving work) there are more gender and sexuality diverse people on our campus and in our schools, from housekeeping staff to the administration and often there is little discussion about how to advocate and support those populations. This panel of LGBTQIA+ educators will give some best practices and answer questions from day to day interactions to policy changes that could make your school more affirming for everyone. By Liz Elsen & Candace Lamb

Hokey-Pokey & Hanky-Panky: Inclusivity in K-5 Sex Education by Jessica Smarr

In this highly interactive session, participants will explore developmentally-appropriate ways of bringing LGBTQ+ topics into elementary classrooms. This session will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn about and discuss lesson content and facilitation methods, as well as the chance to participate in activities straight from the sexuality education classroom. Attendees will leave with a list of online resources, as well at least three facilitation techniques for promoting inclusion.

Accurate, Comprehensive, and Down Right Fun: Inclusivity in 6-12 Sex Education by Ryan Dillon

Participants will explore interactive ways of bringing LGBTQ+ topics into middle and high school classrooms. During this session, participants will experience examples of activities that promote inclusion, providing attendees with the opportunity to learn about and discuss content and facilitation methods. At the conclusion of the session, attendees will leave with new techniques, resources, and facilitation methods that promote inclusion.

Disability and LGBTQ+ by Dr. Nick Winges-Yanez

Students with disabilities are often left out of sexuality education - they do not see themselves represented and are often not viewed as interested in sex. Add on the additional identity of LGBTQ+, and additional marginalization become clear. During this breakout session, we will review recent data related to disability and LGBTQ+ as well as how to begin to address this missing piece so all students can be included and acknowledged. Participants will: (1) Be able to identify the importance of including LGBTQ+ and Disability in sexuality education and (2) Name at least two resources to use for discussing LGBTQ+ and Disability in sexuality education.

Activism, Advocacy, and Education by Mike Webb

Similar to other civil rights movements, the LGBTQ+ rights movement has depended on Activism, Advocacy, and Education in order to achieve some level of equality. As a movement, the LGBTQ+ community has made great strides. This workshop will break down local successes that can serve as models for further advancements. It is also important to highlight opportunities to be even more inclusive and intersectional as we fight for a collective equality that is more representative of the entire LGBTQ+ community.

“Spilling Tea and Throwing Shade”: Performing Black Queer Vernacular in Postsecondary Contexts

In this talk, Dr. Reginald Blockett reports on findings from a multi-year study examining the queer worldmaking practices employed by Black queer men in college. Mobilizing queer of color critique and intersectionality as a core frameworks, Dr. Blockett argues that the performance of Black queer vernacular allows subjects to (re)claim, recognize, and express sexual language through non-heteronormative modes of communication. This talk will highlight the unique linguistic capital Black queer men deploy as they respond to anti-Black racism, heterocisnormativity, and hegemonic masculinities across postsecondary contexts.

Affirming Healthcare by Mike Parent & Aliza Norwood

Gender and sexual minority individuals have a need for affirming care, and actively seek out affirming providers. Yet, there is minimal guidance for providing affirming care in medical and mental health settings, which can include online presence, office settings, front desk staff training, and provider training. This presentation provides an overview of affirming care practices in health settings with the goal of providing strategies to providers and hearing input from stakeholders.

Power, Emotion, and Privilege: Using “Discomfort” to Resist Transgender Student Affirmation

This research contributes to a growing body of scholarship on the experiences of transgender and gender-fluid students in elementary school spaces by exploring a single rural school district’s process for accommodating and including a transgender child. In this paper, we explore how the frequently discussed emotion of discomfort is used as a mechanism for maintaining the status quo. Educators’ stories of working with a transgender student included their perspectives on administrative resistance through expressions of “discomfort” as they sought to facilitate a “successful” gender transition within a public elementary school context. This case study lends insight to how educators navigate tensions between transgender stigma and their professional obligations to secure safety and provide supportive learning environments for all students. By Dr. Elizabeth Payne

Be YOU! Supporting LGBTQIA+ Youth in Schools by Sarah Kapostasy

Be YOU: Young, Outspoken, Unbreakable is a school-based curriculum developed by Out Youth, a community-based organization, to support students vulnerable to minority stress, including LGBTQIA+ youth and allies in local Title 1 schools. Attendees will learn how Be YOU improved emotional regulation skills and decreased rumination based on data from the program pilot. Students who have participated or are currently participating in the program will also share their experiences and perspectives on the program.