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why lgbtqia+ in elt matters

A screenshot of the presentation

I’ve just finished what I classify as my first, full ELT presentation on my own. Huge thank you to Teresa Bestwick of the TEFL Development Hub for inviting me on to talk.

While I was considering what to talk about, I thought why not talk about what I do in ELT and why it matters. Drawing on inspiration from Sue Sanders and usualisation and Tyson Seburn and his wonderful, essential book, How to Write Inclusive Materials on disruption, I decided to talk about why LGBTQIA+ inclusion in ELT matters and showcase some examples of how it can be done.

As I was preparing, I ended up doing a deep dive into my own experiences at school, and growing up through Section 28 in the UK – not a time I particularly remember with great fondness. I wasn’t intending to be so open and honest about my educational experience, but in the end, I found that it allowed me to explore the reasons for doing what I do. Potentially, having someone talk about their own experiences in relation to what they do, or trying to do, humanises it perhaps. And this is something I try to do in any of my posts on social media, or in blogs – showing the reason for my strong passion for LGBTQIA+ representation in ELT materials may get people to think differently. Obviously, I’m not the only ELT educator doing this for the LGBTQIA+ community – I recognise, acknowledge and thank all of them. In some way or another, they have all inspired me to do this.

I started the presentation with some harsh facts. This wasn’t intended to forge discomfort but to highlight the truth of what some LGBTQIA+ people face, and especially LGBTQIA+ students in the UK. I also acknowledge the intersectionality of LGBTQIA+ people who may also face further discrimination; racism, ableism, sexism and misogyny, ageism, to name but a few. I also realise and acknowledge that I do come from a place of privilege; a cis, white, man who grew up in the Global North.

I also wanted to highlight what LGBTQIA+ in ELT is not – attempting to dispel some of the misinformation and myth surrounding queer education. But on a more positive note about what LGBTQIA+ in ELT could be.

The two examples of my own materials were The place where (B1+/B2) and Then and now (A2).

The webinar is available to watch now in the TEFL Development Hub Facebook group (become a member!) and there’ll soon be a link on their website. The Hub will also be sharing a pdf of the presentation and I’ll also be sharing that more widely in due course.

At the very start of the webinar, I felt it was important to acknowledge my own anxiety when talking in a situation like this. I know I get nervous and I know others do, too. So I shared the fact that I was using a stress ball to help me through the webinar – and I see no shame in this. In fact, I think I’ll probably be taking it to IATEFL when I do a workshop in April.

So, thank you to Teresa, the Hub and those who watched, commented and those who will watch and comment!

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