Considering "Gender-Complexity" in Music Teacher Education

 

Joshua Palkki, California State University, Long Beach

josh.palkki@csulb.edu

William Sauerland, Teachers College, Columbia University/Chabot College

wsauerland@chabotcollege.edu

 

Transgender (trans) people are “coming out” earlier than ever before (Beemyn & Rankin, 2011; Grossman, D’Augelli, & Salter, 2006; Stufft & Graff, 2011), and amidst the recent “gender revolution” in the U.S. (Henig, 2017), trans students face great challenges in schools (e.g., Greytak, Kosciw, & Diaz, 2009; Kosciw et al., 2012; McGuire, Anderson, Toomey, & Russell, 2010; Toomey, McGuire, & Russell, 2012; Wyss, 2004). Furthermore, teachers report feeling unprepared to work with trans students (Luecke, 2011; Nichols, 2013; Payne & Smith, 2014). As music educators are often supportive of LGBTQ students (Palkki & Caldwell, in press; Silveira & Goff, 2016), it is important that to explore what music teacher educators can do to understand the ever-expanding paradigms of gender identity and expression. It is imperative that music teacher educators, preservice teachers, and in-service teachers expand their notions about gender—away from a simplistic binary category toward a “gender-complex” (Rands, 2009) approach in which all students—cisgender, trans, genderqueer, questioning, and every other variation— can thrive.

 

This session will provide teacher educators with vocabulary, inclusive language, and suggestions to help themselves and preservice teachers navigate the rapidly changing gender landscape in American schools. The presenters will impart research-based suggestions regarding vocal pedagogy, repertoire, and vocabulary in an effort to continue the “gender dialogue” in music teacher education. In addition, sample lessons and projects for preservice teacher training will be shared. The presentation will also provide an update on the national policies that are affecting schools across the United States.

 

Policies surrounding transgender student bathroom use in schools are rapidly changing-- and a source of recent debate in schools, legislatures, and courtrooms. The Departments of Justice and Education of the Obama administration issued guidance regarding how transgender students should be treated in public schools (e.g., Lhamon & Gupta, 2016), recommendations that would aid trans students in expressing their gender identity at school. These guidelines are no longer supported at the federal level (Stack, 2017). The recent focus on “bathroom bills” is one part of a complex set of policies that trans people must navigate in schools, including: legal name change, rules about attire, and overnight trip rooming. In music education, policies surrounding uniforms, voice part assignments, seating/standing arrangements, and honor choir auditions may be complicated in light of students who are gender variant.

 

Additionally, trans teachers face complicated issues if they “come out” at school (Bartolome, 2016; McCarthy, 2003). This session provides teacher educators with ideas for how to support transgender preservice music teachers, who may face discrimination in both K-12 and university settings (McCord & Carrier, 2012).

 

Because music teachers often form meaningful rapport with students over several years in a music program (Carter, 2011), they can and should become “safe people” for queer students. Part of becoming safe people to foster safe spaces is learning about the complexities of gender and how they play out in music education.

 

References

 

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Beemyn, G., & Rankin, S. R. (2011). The lives of transgender people. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Carter, B. A. (2011). A safe education for all recognizing and stemming harassment in music classes and ensembles. Music Educators Journal, 97(4), 29–32. doi:10.1177/0027432111405342

Greytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Diaz, E. M. (2009). Harsh realities: The experiences of transgender youth in our nation’s schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/

Grossman, A. H., D’augelli, A. R., & Salter, N. P. (2006). Male-to-female transgender youth. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2(1), 71–92. doi:10.1300/J461v02n01_04

Henig, R. M. (2017, January). Rethinking gender. National Geograhpic, 231(1), 48–73.

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 national school climate survey: the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Lhamon, C. E., & Gupta, V. (2016, May 13). Dear colleague letter on transgender students. U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/

Luecke, J. C. (2011). Working with transgender children and their classmates in pre-adolescence: Just be supportive. Journal of LGBT Youth, 8(2), 116–156. doi:10.1080/19361653.2011.544941

McCarthy, L. (2003). Wearing my identity: A transgender teacher in the classroom. Equity & Excellence in Education, 36(2), 170–183. doi:10.1080/10665680303510

McCord, K., & Carrier, M. (2012). “Are you a boy or a girl?”: A new music teacher navigates the gender terrain in a middle school. Presented at The 2nd Symposium on LGBT Studies & Music Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

McGuire, J. K., Anderson, C. R., Toomey, R. B., & Russell, S. T. (2010). School climate for transgender youth: A mixed method investigation of student experiences and school responses. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(10), 1175–1188. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9540-7

Nichols, J. (2013). Rie’s story, Ryan’s journey: Music in the life of a transgender student. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(3), 262–279. doi:10.1177/0022429413498259

Palkki, J., & Caldwell, P. (in press). “We are often invisible”: A survey on safe space for LGBTQ students in secondary school choral programs. Research Studies in Music Education.

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Silveira, J. M., & Goff, S. C. (2016). Music teachers’ attitudes toward transgender students and supportive school practices. Journal of Research in Music Education, 64(2), 138–158. doi:10.1177/0022429416647048

Stack, L. (2017, February 11). Trump drops defense of Obama guidelines on transgender students. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com

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