Breaking down barriers: An analysis of pre-service health and physical education teachers’ beliefs and preparation for working with LGBTQ students
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In this research, I investigate the values, beliefs and preconceived notions teachers of health & physical education (H&PE) possess as they educate LGBTQ students. H&PE teachers hold a significant responsibility to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students, as PE and sport are contexts in whch LGBTQ students feel especially vulnerable, due to the pervasive cultures of hyper-masculinity and conservatism (Linghede & Larsson, 2017). Yet, little is known about how these teachers are prepared to work with LGBTQ students. In response, my research provides an opportunity for pre-service H&PE teachers to describe their feelings of preparedness and their values, beliefs and preconceived notions to working with this population. Information gathering and analysis was accomplished through a qualitative methodology. Four pre-service H&PE teachers where recruited to partake in three semi-structured interviews utilizing a past, present and future structure. Through this process, three main findings were generated. First, this group of pre-service H&PE teachers possessed varying beliefs in working with LGBTQ students. Secondly, many of the participants articulated a commitment to inclusionary practices. Third, the participants believe that their formal university experiences have not prepared them to teach issues relating to gender and sexuality. As such, participants have taken it upon themselves to learn effective strategies through their own research and personal experiences. Implications for school H&PE, teacher development and future avenues of research are discussed in light of these findings.