LGBT Voices: How Closely Are We Listening?
In her review of Queer Voices From the Classroom, Glenda M.Russell notes the importance of efforts to give voice to those whose voices have been silenced. In this instance, the focus is on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teachers. Although social attitudes about the LGBT community have changed and are changing, Russell notes that changes in the classroom have come more slowly.
In the book, the experiences of those who provide instruction in diverse school settings—rural, urban, public, private—were captured. Narratives were solicited for which teachers were asked to discuss “(a) their identities as queer teachers, (b) how their identities influenced their decision to become teachers, (c) significant moments regarding their lives as teachers, and (d) their hopes as queer teachers” (para. 3). The chapters provide insight and inspiration, yet they also make it clear that there is work to be done. For example, although not addressed in the book, Russell questions whether LGBT people can freely decide whether they want to disclose or withhold their identities in the school environment.
As psychologists read this book, it will be important for them to consider similar questions. Does our profession parallel the school environments described? Are LGBT individuals able to find affirming environments within research and therapeutic psychological communities? Is our awareness of the costs and consequences associated with an inability to express a stigmatized identity adequate? Are we aware of the unique stressors and the needs of LGBT individuals and the concerns these may generate, or is a book that describes LGBT experiences in psychology needed?
By Glenda M. Russell
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(47)