LGBTQ training coming to UBC's Faculty of Education

UBC is bringing LGBTQ training to everyone in the Faculty of Education.

Thanks to a generous donation, beginning in September 2016 everyone in the faculty —including teaching candidates, faculty, staff, graduate students and the dean — will be receiving LGBTQ training.

“We know that the issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions are systemic, and that what’s required is [education] from the ground up,” said Mary Bryson, the senior associate dean of the Faculty of Education. “We address the issue of the climate, the curriculum, policies — and then we are training all of the people that are doing the teaching so that [there is] an impact on every aspect of the whole faculty.”

Bryson explained that the $125,000 was donated by the ARC foundation so that the university could set up a sexual orientation and gender identity education fund. ARC is a Vancouver-based foundation whose aims include making "the general population aware of the issues of the disenfranchised and the impact of prejudice," and then tackling these issues in a way that creates respect and social change.

"This fund is targeted only to support projects that are going to shift LGBT inclusion at a scale that includes a whole faculty," said Bryson.

For this reason, while other campus leadership programs — as well as Hospitality Services — will be getting training and workshops, the majority of the funds will be directed at the “Teacher Education For All!” project in the Faculty of Education.

“The unfair treatment of people comes about because of ignorance, or lack of understanding,” said Joanne Naslund, a staff member at the Neville Scarfe Education Library who advocated for the project. “And for educators, they are working with all students, and so they really need to have that knowledge and that background and that real understanding so that they are not seeing students in a very stereotyped way.”

The Faculty of Education is becoming a pioneer testing station in the initiative to create a perpetuating effect with the training. The aim is to bring the messages of the campaign not only to those being taught, but through those being taught into the community beyond the campus.

“It will have an impact in the schools themselves: where our teacher candidates go and where our graduate candidates go. That’s the ultimate intent," said Naslund. “We always have 'double education' when we are here in the education faculty, because one hopes that through their experiences, [graduates] will then be able to take that further."

Students in the program responded positively to the prospect of receiving the LGBTQ training, and they seconded the need of such education for students entering the workforce.

“I think it is a great idea. It will help [educators] ... tailor their teaching to accommodate people that have LGBTQ backgrounds.” said Shyun Yasutake, a secondary teaching candidate for social studies. “A course like that would help teachers to become more mindful that those kind of students exist in the classroom, as opposed to them just being kind of in the background and kind of being invisible.”

"It is a really exciting time to be a student at UBC," said Bryson. "UBC has a really strong group of wonderful students and the students should expect nothing less from the university than for us to provide a fully inclusive environment — an environment that is forward thinking in relation to human rights.”