On Thursday, Oct. 31, The Auburn Plainsman published an article shedding light on the “undercurrent of fear” many LGBTQ+ students experience at Auburn University. Editor-In-Chief Medina highlighted that Dr. Bruce Murray, a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, authored homophobic and transphobic social media posts and local newspaper op-ed pieces.
As faculty members in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, we believe that no student at Auburn University, or at any educational institution, should encounter language or practices that devalue their personhood or humanity. While the recent article focuses on one particular faculty member, the problems highlighted are present throughout the Auburn University community. For instance, the Princeton Review recently ranked Auburn University as the fifth most LGBTQ-unfriendly college in the nation. We desire to see the culture and systems within the university transformed to be more welcoming, affirming and just for LGBTQ+ people, whether students, staff or faculty.
We are committed to preparing future K-12 teachers who seek equity and justice for all students. LGBTQ+ students in K-12 schools especially need such teachers. Educational research demonstrates that LGBTQ+ students persistently encounter biased remarks, victimization, harassment and assault, which result in pervasive absenteeism, lower academic achievement and poor psychological well-being. However, teachers’ actions and beliefs can improve these situations, and the Alabama Quality Teacher Standards point to teachers’ professional obligation to act in such ways. These standards require teachers to have “knowledge of how personal/cultural biases can affect teaching and learning” and to have the “ability to create a learning community in which individual differences are respected.”
As educational researchers and faculty, we recognize from scholars, such as Friere and hooks, that our actions and ideologies outside of the classroom cannot be compartmentalized from our teaching. Our personal beliefs and actions affect our teaching and how students experience our courses. We believe that all educators have a professional and ethical responsibility to cultivate classrooms where LGBTQ+ students can learn, flourish and enrich their communities.
As Curriculum and Teaching faculty members, we recognize the need for Auburn University to substantively address these systemic issues with immediacy. This response includes the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. As such we have asked for meetings with our department and administration to begin the long overdue work of repair and transformation. In addition, we echo the ongoing calls for Auburn University administration to address the multiple concerns expressed by faculty and students regarding long standing histories of oppressive policies, practices, and culture within our University. And, to our students, we see you, value you and want you to know that we are here to support you and advocate alongside you.
Nancy Barry, Ph.D. — Professor of Music Education
Mike P. Cook, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor of English Education
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Sara B. Demoiny, Ph.D. —Assistant Professor of Elementary Education
Jamie Harrison, Ed.D. — Associate Professor of ESOL Education
Jada Kohlmeier, Ph.D. — Professor of Secondary Social Sciences Education
Angela Love, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education
W. Gary Martin, Ed.D. — Leischuck Endowed Professor of Mathematic Education
Martina P. McGhee, Ph.D. — Assistant Clinical Professor of Elementary Education
Mary Jane McIlwain, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor of Reading Education
Nicole Mitchell — Clinical Lecturer of Early Childhood Education
Ryan Schey, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor of English Education
Christine Schnittka, Ph.D. — Professor of Secondary Science Education
Marilyn E. Strutchens, Ph.D. — Leischuck Endowed and M.C. Farley Distinguished Professor of Mathematic Education
Jesús A. Tirado, PhD — Assistant Professor of Secondary Social Studies
Lucretia O. Tripp, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of Elementary Education
The Auburn Plainsman welcomes letters from students, as well as faculty, administrators, alumni and those not affiliated with the University.
The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors.
These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.
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