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Practice

This page has examples of practice from around the University of Warwick that present evidence of queer pedagogy and support for trans and gender-diverse students.

Learning Resources: ‘LGBTQA+ people and health issues: developing sensitive and inclusive medical practice’ 

Warwick Medical School

Contact: Dr Clare Blackburn (c dot m dot blackburn at warwick dot ac dot uk)

I teach on medical students on the 4 year MBChB course. As part of our teaching on diversity and inequality, we have teaching and learning on inequality in health and health care and the doctor’s role in tackling discrimination and inequality. As part of this, we have developed some teaching and learning on a number of areas that might fit with your areas of interest. Early in the course we teach about biological sex, gender (as a social construct), gender identity and sexuality and how these differ but intersect, and how these shape our identities and those of patients. Later, we have teaching and learning on sexuality, sexual norms and relationships, highlighting the diversity in these. In the final year of the course, we have a session on trans people and health. This is delivered by a trans woman lecturer and included a plenary involving trans students from the Student Union who are willing to share their experience of health care. To build up our teaching resources we have started to develop a set of online learning resources entitled ‘LGBTQA+ people and health issues: developing sensitive and inclusive medical practice’. The resources are as follows:  

    • Part 1: Introduction to the learning resources, key terms (gender identity and sexuality), GMC guidance for medical students, and the law (released to all students).  
    • Part 2: Pronouns and how to address people (released to all students). 
    • Part 3: Health and health care for LGB+ people (in development – not released yet).  
    • Part 4: Health and health care for trans people (in development – not yet released).  
    • Part 5: LGBTUA+ staff in the health services: working for equality and inclusion (in development – not yet released).  

We have also been working to increase student’s understanding of pronouns by having a pronoun badge-making session for year 1 students, which the Student Union helps us with.  

As teachers I think we are only just starting to queer the experience of our students, but I am mindful that our LGBTQA+ students are advocates who keep the issues on students’ agendas.  

The online resources and session on transgender health issues came out of a meeting I invited final year students to (a LGBTQA+ person from the Student Union also came along). I wanted to develop some teaching in these areas but wanted to offer teaching and learning that students found helpful. At the meeting we decided to develop online learning resources and have a face to face session on trans people and health. Some students have reviewed the resources before we made them available to all students. Although we haven’t formally evaluated them, we have had very positive feedback via verbal comments and emails about them. The trans health session was extremely well received.  

The year 1 session that introduced gender identity and gender always seems to create some tensions. I think this stems from different views and politics within the LGBTQA+ community on gender identity. Some students find it difficult to grasp the differences between gender as a social construct and gender identity.  

Rainbow Lanyard

Contact: Dr Peter Brommer, School of Engineering (p dot brommer at warwick dot ac dot uk)

It may only be a small thing, but I’m wearing a rainbow lanyard (and insisted on wearing it for official photos), have a LGBTUA+ supporting statement in my signature and my personal home page, a LGBTUA+ support postcard visible in my office. This is clearly visible particularly to students in small-group teaching in tutorials. I’m afraid that’s all I’m currently doing. 

I have not yet had any negative responses to displaying the rainbow lanyard (but also explicitly positive ones either) 

Professor Christine Ennew pictured with a Rainbow Lanyard

Inclusive Teaching

Contact: Dr Maria Barrett, School of Theatre and Performance Studies (maria dot barrett at warwick dot ac dot uk)

All I do is to try to practice inclusive teaching, doing things like making no assumptions on the sexuality of students and staff, making sure that if I refer to relationships that I include same sex relationships and so on, when talking about events as part of teaching ensuring that I include examples like Pride. I try to be careful with pronouns and again to make no assumption. In other words, I hope LGBTQA+ people feel included in my classes, and also that my students see LGBTQA+ people and events as part of the norm.  

Career Development

Contact: Gill Frigerio, Centre for Lifelong Learning (cesvab at warwick dot ac dot uk)

I guess what might be queer about our work in the sense of being strange or peculiar is that we are teaching a professional practice in which the student is developing their whole self as a practitioner. We use our own biographies as material for engaging with theories about career development, so a LGBTUA+ student might have a particular perspective. We are careful about establishing a working alliance with our students to create and maintain a safe space for people to disclose as they wish.  

Our field hasn’t got a lot of literature about queer career development although there is a chapter in a newly published book and I know of an article which explored heteronormative assumptions amongst practitioners which I might use next year to teach research ethics as it required a somewhat coercive methodology. But most discussion of gender can be quite binary in terms of women being disadvantaged in the labour market.  

Whilst gay students have in the past brought some interesting perspectives into the classroom we haven’t to my knowledge had anyone who didn’t conform to binary gender presentation, so not had to consider that.  

Queering Statistics

Contact: Dr Ric Crossman, Statistics (r dot j dot crossman at warwick dot ac dot uk)

The best I’ve managed to do so far in terms of queering my modules is that I’ve removed heteronormative examples in my lectures, and removed assumptions of gender in my exchanges with students (such as when asking students to provide their own data to use as examples in class).  

One of the examples in a decision theory module I taught involved two people deciding where to go on a date. The original names of the couple made it very clear they were a boy and a girl – I changed these to more gender-neutral names (Alex and Kim, if I remember rightly).  

There was also an example I wrote for audience participation, so I could gather a small data set and analyse it during the lecture, and the students would have a direct connection to the resulting discussion. The data I asked for was gender, height, and which hand is dominant. Aware of the issues of assuming gender, or of putting someone who is trans/non-binary on the spot by asking them to state their gender in a public setting where they might not feel comfortable doing so, I explain to students what data I am asking for before requesting volunteers to give me that data.  

Lastly, I’ve adopted a policy I encountered at a convention a few years ago, and make sure that when I identify a student in a lecture (if multiple students have questions, are volunteering, etc.) I do so by clothing/location/hair colour/accessories, etc. No more “gentleman at the back”. 

I’m not sure I’m particularly qualified to give advice, but if pressed, I’d point out to my colleagues that (to my mind) one can scrub heteronormativity from a module without having to include explicitly queer content. I definitely think we should be doing the latter in any case, but just doing the former is a start, and should be completely uncontroversial.  

Technology

Contact: Russell Boyatt (Service Owner, Learning Systems), IT Services (Russell dot boyatt at warwick dot ac dot uk)

One aspect you could consider is how the technology systems used by university present to and allow students to present themselves. We are trying to think carefully about the way the teaching and learning platforms allow users to present themselves. For example, we have an e-portfolio system that allows students to document their learning journey and portfolio of work. Out of the box the platform, like many others, only allows a male/female option for gender in the profile pages. We’re now asking the creators of the platform to include enhancements we’ve developed. This might seem like a small point but hopefully illustrates a wider issue we’ve got – students’ higher education experiences are increasingly mediated through technology and not all of that technology fits well into the learning environment (in this and many other different pedagogical forms).