MEd student presents at World Pride Human Rights Conference
Published on June 25 2014
Whether it is a passion for a particular subject or a gnawing curiosity for things unknown, what we choose to research often stems from our experience and personal makeup.
For Masters of Education student Courtenay Fleet, it was an observation made during her Initial Teacher Education program that spurred the first steps down the path of her current research.
“My thesis work comes out of frustrations I felt as a lesbian teacher candidate during my Initial Teacher Education Program,” she says. “While there are many queer teachers who are teaching and have happy and successful careers, I felt troubled by what I felt in that system; what I felt was ignorance from my colleagues.”
Fleet’s research uses narrative inquiry to explore the experiences of former queer teacher candidates during their time in Initial Teacher Education programs in Ontario and has earned her an invitation to present at the World Pride Human Rights Conference in Toronto from June 25-27.
Her presentation, “Becoming a Queer Teacher: Exploring Narratives of Queer Teaching Candidates” will showcase narratives and preliminary results from her data analysis that highlight the key themes of guilt and fear, both of which she has found play a large role in queer teachers feeling silenced and struggling with keeping their sexuality quiet.
Fleet carries with her an optimism that her work might serve as a catalyst to reversing that feeling.
“It is my hope that my MEd work with queer teacher candidates can be used as a tool to create change, says Fleet. “As I plan to pursue my PhD in the future, I hope that it can be a building block for future research exploring queer teachers.”
A topic she never intended to explore, let alone pursue, Fleet admits that her decision to tackle queer studies in education was difficult, but it also proved to be extremely satisfying.
“It was only through conversations with my professors and my advisor that I realized how important this topic was to me and that I wanted to study it further,” she says. “I wanted to do something to create change but I didn’t know how. I have been very fortunate to have encountered some amazing professors along the way that have encouraged and supported me in exploring the narratives of queer teacher candidates. For that I am truly thankful.”
Having found out her paper had been accepted in October of 2013, Fleet’s first reaction was to inform her advisor, Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker, who offers these sentiments about her student:
“Courtenay is an extremely hard working, thoughtful, authentic graduate student and has incorporated her personal educative experiences to research LGBTQ issues in faculties across Ontario using narrative inquiry methods. Her insight into narratives of LGBTQ teacher candidates and their storied experiences in the field of teacher education is breaking new ground on issues of equity for teachers as well as students in classrooms across our publically funded schools and universities. We should be very proud of her passion and accomplishments throughout the course of her studies and research at this stage in her journey.”
While there is research showing the need for educating teachers about LGBTQ issues, it is Fleet’s hope that her work will help prompt Initial Teacher Education programs to further educate and prepare teachers to have students who are queer.
In addition to presenting at the conference, Fleet has been invited to attend Lieutenant Governor of Ontario reception at Queen’s Park for her role in the World Pride Conference.
Find out more about the World Pride Human Rights Conference.