Teaching & Learning


Recognising and including LGBTQ+ identities in language teaching

Aimed at teachers to help them consider recognition and inclusion in language teaching, in development with LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group (UCL LESG) and colleagues across UCL.


14 June 2021

About this topic

The idea of creating a short toolkit aimed at language teachers at UCL was inspired by a series of workshops for language teachers on ‘Recognising LGBTQ+ identities in language teaching materials’ led by Professor John Gray (IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society) in 2019-2020. These were very well attended and it became clear that many of us had thought carefully about recognition and inclusion in relation to our language teaching, but also that many of us struggled to find an approach that we were happy with. 

John has continued to lend us support during the writing of this toolkit, for which we want to thank him. We would also like to thank UCL Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality who awarded John a small grant in 2019 to get the project going. However, any shortcomings in what follows are the sole responsibility of the authors. 

We are aware that some people teach multiple languages, and that many languages are spoken in a number of countries. To avoid constantly having to write clumsy sentences like “the language(s) is/are spoken in a/several country/ies”, we will tend to use singular throughout. 

Who is this toolkit for?

This resource was designed to facilitate reflection and discussion among individual teachers, module and programme teams or departments. It is meant to support colleagues in starting to think more about recognition in their day-to-day modules as well as in their curricula more broadly. The toolkit is therefore not meant to be a comprehensive discussion about recognition but should rather be seen as an actionable document, a place to start conversations and, ultimately, encourage change that will make our teaching more inclusive for students as well as staff.  

When learning a new language ‘the teacher help[s] individual learners to find their own new voices in the new language, and to mediate between these new voices and their first language voices.’ (Kullman, 2013, p. 21) The strong emphasis on identity and on finding new voices are the reasons we have designed the toolkit with language teachers in mind. 

Nevertheless, all education engages with identity and the finding of one’s voice(s), so we hope and think that our suggestions will be useful for teachers in all faculties, across all disciplines. However, if anybody wants to adapt this toolkit to their own discipline, please get in touch with us to discuss, or submit feedback via this form.  

Meet the authors 

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/1dFIg9A2

How to get started

When thinking about change, a common question is ‘where do I start’, especially as most of us have numerous projects competing for our time. There might also be fears of stereotyping or essentialising, particularly where a teacher does not identify with the groups they are trying to include and represent. Likewise, LGBTQ+ teachers themselves might not want to include their own personal perspectives.  

From the start then, we want to recognise the value of taking small steps, piloting approaches and evaluating as you go along. Including a transgender character in dialogue, ensuring family patterns go beyond mum, dad and two children, and/or discussing how pronouns are used in a language in relation to a range of gender identities are all great starting points. 

A first step could therefore be to include more diverse voices into your materials without challenging your entire curriculum. Voice can mean different things, but here we take it to mean: who gets to speak and tell their story; whose worlds are we invited into; who are we asked to relate to and identify with.

Once you have begun including more diverse voices, you might then go on to thinking critically about aspects such as reading lists and invited speakers. And at some point, you might be comfortable with discussions of some of the structural and discursive issues about recognition and inclusion that are meaningful to your students.  

Top Tip

A pragmatic starting point could be UCL’s Peer Dialogue (Option A), the flexibility of which can provide some structure and support for groups of colleagues wanting to discuss recognition. Option C, working with Student Reviewers, could be a way to ensure that students are involved in the discussions. Finally, you might be able to get some funding by applying for a UCL ChangeMakers project

Different approaches to recognition and inclusion 

In the following part, we will introduce three ways to approach LGBTQ+ recognition and inclusion. These are:

  1. identify
  2. include
  3. problematise/question

It is important to say that no individual way is meant to be seen as inherently better than another, and there is no suggestion that teachers should always strive for the third category, for instance. As Giroux (2020) argues ‘[p]edagogy must always be contextually defined, allowing it to respond specifically to the conditions, formations, and problems that arise in various sites in which education takes place.’ (p. 86)  

Before moving on, we want to recognise that there are other resources that discuss recognition and inclusion using roughly the same three categories. We are not committed to any one model, but we have added a range of materials at the end of the toolkit if you want to take a deeper dive into thinking about recognition, gender and sexuality. 

This is also why we will not go into great detail about the research underpinning this toolkit, as we would like it to be short, to-the-point and user-friendly. However, you might find that, like the authors of this toolkit, once you begin thinking more about recognition and inclusion, it leads you down unforeseen rabbit holes where, in the words of Alice in Wonderland: ‘it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'

Read Anne Moore's experiences of studying Italian, Mandarin, BSL and Hungarian (Anne is a UCL LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group Member and former Co-Chair)
I have studied Italian, Mandarin, BSL and Hungarian during my time at UCL and have had a range of positive experiences in the classroom as an openly lesbian woman. My identity has not been an issue for staff or students in the classroom, although I did find it sometimes necessary to overcome mostly heterosexual examples given to learners when speaking about family members and learning pronouns from textbook resources. Having to correct pronouns, rather than the ones I was taught to use to describe family members, was something which I encountered 20 years ago as an undergrad student learning French in a different institution. I was a terrible French student and the tutor automatically assumed I had used the wrong gender pronoun to speak about a partner. I received a very 'red pen heavy' marked up essay and this experience of correcting the tutor in an uncomfortable tutorial has stayed with me to this day!

1. Identify

The lack of visibility and inclusion of LGBTQ+ voices in language teaching is a very common, or perhaps even universal, problem. However, the magnitude of the issue differs across teaching contexts and depends on many factors. The language you teach and the culture of the country where this language is spoken, however, are of particular significance.  

Teachers coming from a variety of backgrounds and teaching different languages might, therefore, notice that they do not always share the same experiences with regards to the topic of inclusivity. 

While in some countries the discussion on the topic of LGBTQ+ recognition in language teaching has already been initiated, in others this issue has barely been recognised or is actively suppressed.  

We strongly believe that change is fuelled by awareness, and therefore the simple, yet so critical act of identifying and recognising the issues should not be undervalued.
Therefore, we would like to invite you to reflect on your own teaching practice in relation to representation of gender and sexuality. 

Below are some questions that might help you get started

1. Think about materials available for the language you teach
  • How often do LGBTQ+ characters appear in them?
  • How are they portrayed?
  • Do they only appear in chapters dedicated to relationships or family topics or do they also appear in different contexts?
  • When they appear, do they reflect intersecting and overlapping of social identities (e.g. race, class, age, etc.)? 
2. Update your teaching activities or design
  • Do you already include LGBTQ+ characters and related topics in your teaching resources?
  • If yes, what is your approach?
  • If no, why is that? Is there anything in particular that has stopped you from doing this?  
3. Consider your use of personal pronouns 

When communicating with others, we constantly use personal pronouns. In some languages these are non-gender-specific, but in others, you will inevitably face a choice between a very limited number of options.  

  • Are you aware of the developments and discussions regarding the use of personal pronouns in the language you teach?
  • Do you know before the start of your course what your students’ pronouns are? And do you have a strategy for ensuring that everybody feels included? 

You can continue the list of questions yourself, identifying which areas matter particularly to you and your students.Remember that you do not have to address them all at once: write them down and return to your list at a later stage to check your progress and aid your self-reflection. 

Once you have had a chance to think about some of these questions, you can determine which areas require your focus in the short term as well as in the longer term. 

Maybe you had considered all these aspects already, and now you are thinking about ways of taking action; or perhaps this is the first time some of these topics have been brought to your attention, and you need time to think about how to respond.  

UCL language graduate: 

Educators might feel that they need to change the way they teach so that it becomes more inclusive and will be prompted to have loads of really explicit conversations with their students. A better way is to put more subtle signposts and try to create a more inclusive space, but without putting anyone into a position where they might feel uncomfortable.

2. Include

Having reflected on the materials that you use in your classroom through a critical lens, you might be thinking about implementing changes (smaller or larger) that can make a difference to your language teaching. 

Suggestions to inspire and help you take the first steps:

1. Try to include LGBTQ+ characters, events and spaces in your materials

When you discuss the topic of family and relationships with beginner students, go beyond what we often see in textbooks and include different family models. You can also refer to cultural events and spaces relating to LGBTQ+ people.

  • You could show a picture of two mums or dads and children, and ask your students to describe this family.  
  • When presenting a story of a single person, you could mention that they currently have neither a boyfriend, nor a girlfriend.
  • A character could be writing a Valentine's card to a partner of the same sex.
  • Characters could be talking about events such as the Pride Parade or Pride Month (in the UK and/or in the target culture). The characters do not all have to be LGBTQ+, and the term 'ally' could be introduced.
  • Locations such as LGBTQ+ societies or clubs could be included.

Education Scotland has published some interesting resources that might give you some inspiration: ‘Engaging with LGBT and migrant equalities: Activities for the ESOL classroom.’ 

Working with students at higher levels of language proficiency opens up many opportunities, as your students are equipped with language tools to discuss more complex topics on the crossroads of cultural, sociolinguistic and pragmatic competencies. There are many ways of embracing these opportunities, for instance by discussing the situation of the LGBTQ+ community in the country where the language you teach is spoken:  

Is civil partnership legal, and what are the rights of LGBTQ+ people (laws, regulations, customs, main LGBTQ+ organisations and charities)?  Are there any LGBTQ+ role models within sports or popular culture (maybe an interview or news article could be studied)?  How do LGBTQ+ organisations promote their viewpoints (exploring online platforms)? 

Think about exercises where a couple are interacting in a common, everyday situation (e.g. buying groceries, choosing a birthday gift for a friend, or renting an apartment). These come up in all types of language learning materials, at all levels. 

You could consider adjusting some of those scenarios to become more inclusive by, for instance, switching the names and pronouns of the characters to indicate that the couple portrayed in the exercise are not heterosexual. With this approach, you do not focus on the topic of relationships and family itself, and yet you include LGBTQ+ voices in passing, challenging common assumptions that couples in language learning materials are mostly heterosexual. Many of the assumptions that are reproduced and reinforced in coursebooks and other types of materials are so widespread that they have become invisible to us, and the effect is the erasure of everything and everybody that does not fit into the narrow category ‘normal’, which leads us to the next points we want to make:

While the topic of ‘family and relationships’ seems to be the most obvious choice when including LGBTQ+ characters in language teaching, it is also important to do so in other contexts. Moreover, we do not always have to draw particular attention to gender and sexuality - how often does a heterosexual character have to discuss their sexuality, and how often is that the centre of attention? 

2. Present a range of genders and sexualities in activities 

Find a range of social media profiles that include short profiles of people who identify as a range of genders and sexualities (LGBTQ+ as well as hetero, cisgender as well as transgender, etc.). This will provide students with authentic vocabulary to characterise and describe themselves from different individuals - and you might be able to discuss their use of pronouns, too.

If asking students to produce their own profiles, we suggest allowing for fictitious profiles so nobody feels obliged to share personal information unless they want to. 

3. Consider your use of grammar 

Grammar examples are sometimes seen as ‘neutral’ because they are, some would argue, about the grammar and not the content. They represent, however, an area where you can introduce more diverse representation (remember that even little changes can make a big difference).

The key question is: why should there not be LGBTQ+ people in grammar exercises? 

4. Challenge your assumptions and those of your students 

We all have them, and we often rely on them to navigate in a complex reality. Sometimes our assumptions help us to quickly make the right decision, e.g. when we look outside and see people wearing thick jackets and carrying umbrellas, we decide that perhaps putting on another layer of clothes is not a bad idea. However, when it comes to people, our assumptions, when not constantly checked and challenged, can be more harmful than helpful.  

  • Have you ever reflected on your own assumptions in relating to your language teaching or the culture that you teach? Do you normally present gender as binary? Is the family always a mum, dad and some children? When you think about athletes or role models, do they include some who identify as LGBTQ+? 
  • Have your students ever reflected on how they have studied languages in the past, how the materials look and why that is the case? Have they, for instance, ever studied materials related to LGBTQ+? If they have, was it a one-off or something that was integrated into their learning journey? Do they understand why it is important to study a range of voices? 
5. Check the pronouns 

When students have an account in the university database, they sometimes have an option to indicate their title and pronouns. However, sometimes this field is overlooked. 

  • Invite – but do not require your students to fill it in before the first lesson
  • Or prepare a basic form including optional fields to indicate a name and  pronouns and distribute it in class during your first teaching session. Some students might leave it blank because they are undecided or do not want to disclose it, but it demonstrates to students that there is space in your classroom for recognising gender fluidity. 
6. Help develop your students' cultural competence 

As should be clear from this section, there are many ways to include a diverse range of people in your language teaching materials. And it is hopefully also clear that it is perfectly fine to take small steps.

However, once you begin you might also want to begin problematising, criticising or questioning some of the topics you explore with your students, so let us turn to that in the next part. 

Work with students not only on their linguistic and communicative competence, but also on their cultural competence. This means addressing the reality of the countries where the language we teach is spoken, and also if this is potentially problematic: in some places, for instance, it will be unsafe or even illegal to be openly LGBTQ+, and our students need to understand that  even if they do not themselves identify as LGBTQ+.  

This becomes even more crucial if students are expected to visit the country as part of their course (summer school, year abroad, field trip, etc.). Make sure your students who plan to travel to the country know where to ask for help and support.  

When talking about the LGBTQ+ situation within a particular culture, we suggest showing the complexity of the situation to avoid stereotyping. For instance, in some countries the law is oppressive but that does not mean there are no movements to change it. So rather than saying ‘this country is homophobic’ we might want to refer to the government policies as well as LGBTQ+ organisations who campaign against them. 

Final-year undergraduate in BA French and Spanish:

What is important is that regardless of what you identify as, there should be opportunities for you to discuss your opinions, without necessarily having to relate to your own personal experience. And that goes for gender and sexuality, too.

3. Problematise and question

Beyond recognising and including LGBTQ+ characters and topics in our teaching, we can also begin to problematise the way society relates to gender and sexuality, and, fundamentally, question why our societies are the way they are. Coda (2017) talks, for instance, about ‘challenging students' implicit bias in classroom conversations, not labelling the students with the dominant heterosexual identity, and creating classroom activities that encourage discussion related to sexual identities can be ways of challenging the heteronormative order of the classroom.’ (p. 12)

This might be done in class discussions by critically analysing news articles or policy documents, exploring heteronormative and sexist language use in popular media, analysing gender construction in music (e.g. which words are used about men, women and people who fall outside this binary), and so on. 
While these are definitely easier to bring into the more advanced language classes, it is worth thinking about how they can become a natural part of language classes right from the beginning.  

The following might help you think about some of these aspects. They are meant as examples rather than exemplars, but hopefully they will spark your own creativity: which would be relevant to your classroom and your students? 

Creating a classroom that encourages discussion

The concept ‘heteronormativity’ is interesting to explore, and this can be extended to a range of discussions: what is expected of boys and girls in terms of the toys they play with, the activities they are encouraged to undertake and the education they often choose (why do fewer women study engineering?); how people respond to two women/men holding hands versus a man and a woman doing so; colours (can a boy wear pink? Why is that even a question we need to ask?)

1. How have LGBTQ+ rights changed historically in the UK?
  • When and why do we use the word ‘normal’? And how does it change in different contexts?
  • How do discourses of normalcy structure our thinking around sexuality and gender?
  • What is the relationship between heteronormativity and ‘normalcy’ and politics, politicians, consumerism and capitalism? For instance, why do textbooks rarely include LGBTQ+ characters and topics (Gray, 2013)?
2. What difficulties and barriers do LGBTQ+ people encounter when they are open about their gender identity and sexuality?
  • Why might some people choose to keep their gender identity and sexuality to themselves?
  • Why do many LGBTQ+ people (still) experience harassment at university (Bachmann and Gooch, 2018)?
  • Discussing recent UK law, such as Section 28 (which prohibited the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality or any suggestion of the ‘acceptability of homosexuality’ in state school and was only repealed in 2003) can help emphasise the rapidity of change in culture and the ways in which actively removing and erasing LGBTQ+ content from educational spaces have been encouraged and legislated.
3. If you are heterosexual yourself, why are these topics even relevant?
  • The concept ‘heteronormativity’ is interesting to explore, and this can be extended to a range of discussions: what is expected of boys and girls in terms of the toys they play with, the activities they are encouraged to undertake and the education they often choose (why do fewer women study engineering?); how people respond to two women/men holding hands versus a man and a woman doing so; colours (can a boy wear pink? Why is that even a question we need to ask?)
  • What does it mean to be an ‘ally’?
4. Compare and contrast the UK with countries where the language you teach is spoken.
  • How is the situation in these countries different from the country where your students live now, lived in the past and/or where they study the language?
  • What discourses structure LGBTQ+ issues in the language you teach (political, religious, biological, medical, etc.)?
  • How would you support a friend who was LGBTQ+ in that country in a safe way?

There is a lot to consider, and some of these questions are uncomfortable to address (such as on-campus bullying and harassment or cultures where identifying as LGBTQ+ might get you arrested, imprisoned or killed). However, the alternative, trying to ignore these problems, is far worse, and as teachers we have a responsibility to all our students. Hopefully the three approaches introduced above will mean that we can work with recognition and inclusion in a way that we are comfortable with and which suits our contexts. 

And remember that you are not alone. One thing the authors learned when we began discussions around representation in 2019 was that many of us had been thinking about it for years. Beyond being a starting point for self-reflection, then, we hope that this toolkit can spark further discussions in all the many communities of practice around UCL and beyond.  

First-year undergraduate in BA Russian and Spanish: 

What has been frustrating was when I've tried to be more progressive and inclusive in my speech, I was penalised for my "mistakes". Equality and inclusion in the classroom have to translate into all areas of schooling, so that kind of speech should also be seen as correct.

Doubts and questions

In this part, we have collected some of the questions that colleagues have asked us. We have given some pointers and suggestions for further reading and resources.

We will update this page as new guidance and FAQs are developed.  

My lessons are focused strictly on the language, so my students and I don’t have time for anything additional

As language teachers, we never teach languages in a cultural vacuum. Even if we are focusing strictly on grammar, we still analyse the mechanisms of the given language using sentences with a certain cultural meaning and within a certain context. 

Try to look critically at the language materials you are working with. How often do the sentences in your grammar exercises assume heteronormativity? Think about such simple examples as: ‘John and Ann are in love’, ‘Mum and dad went to the theatre’. There is nothing wrong with them per se, yet if all exercises show grammatical structures using only heteronormative examples, it simply does not reflect the complexity of real life.   

Neither I nor any of my students identify as LGBTQ+ so it would feel strange to add any materials related to LGBTQ+ issues

The reality is that most of the time we do not know much about our students’ sexual or gender identities. And what is more, we have to remember that our assumptions can cause a great deal of stress for our students.

Teachers are certainly not in a position to ask their student about their sexual or gender orientation, or out them to the class. Unfortunately, many language teaching materials can refer to private topics in a way that can be insensitive. For example, when teaching family-related vocabulary, we should be aware that not everyone in the class might identify with the family patterns presented in our workbooks.

Make sure you do not put your students in a position where they have to answer questions such as ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ Teachers can change exercises that seem to be invading personal space by making them about fictional characters instead of students themselves (or at least giving that option). Often it is not about adding any special materials but about making sure the existing materials recognise the diversity and do not make anybody feel uncomfortable or excluded.  

At the same time, it is worth asking yourself whether your students – irrespective of their own sexual and gender orientation – really do not want any LGBTQ+ materials in your language lessons (see for instance Nelson, 2015). And we might add: if they do not want LGBTQ+ materials, that is in itself worth discussing and challenging.  

Finally, we suggest having a look at the research by Macdonald, El-Metoui, Baynham and Gray, 2014. 

I do not myself identify as LGBTQ+ and am therefore concerned that I will be stereotyping when I include these groups in my materials?  

Recognising the fact that there is such a risk is already valuable self-reflection. And as is mostly true in teaching generally, small steps are often the best way to move forward. Never do anything in your teaching you do not feel comfortable with – but reflect on why something might make you feel uncomfortable. It is worth asking yourself whether not identifying as LGBTQ+ is really a valid reason not to include this specific representation in your teaching. Do you also feel you should never include representations of groups that are not your age (so for instance as an adult you never mention children), not your social group (do you, for example, feel similarly uncomfortable when mentioning that Carmen portrays a Bohemian lifestyle) or not your sexuality (can LGBTQ+ teachers not include heterosexual love in their teaching)? In other words, do we really have to identify with every group of people we want to include in our teaching materials?  

Remember that teaching is always also a learning experience. Once you start to be more critical when choosing and developing your teaching materials, you will probably question some of the materials you have been using so far, as well as see the opportunities to introduce LGBTQ+ issues and improve the materials you work with.   

One way of introducing wider representations into your classes is by including authentic materials in the target language. In this way you allow people, groups and organisations to introduce themselves in their own words.   

In the country where the language I am teaching is spoken, it is still politically controversial to be LGBTQ+. How do I ensure my students understand this and can navigate these differences? 

When teaching a language, we are inevitably teaching about the culture of the country, but as language teachers, we are not expected to provide a thorough analysis of the legal and social situation of LGBTQ+ people in the country where the language we teach is spoken. While rights affecting LGBTQ+ people vary greatly by country, please bear in mind that the given legal framework, the current government policy and the social attitudes around LGBTQ+ issues might not be aligned. While navigating all these aspects of LGBTQ+ rights, a good starting point is to direct students to reliable sources for the country of the target language. We suggest that you bear the following points in mind to avoid stereotyping: law, government policy, a range of social attitudes in the population, and key LGBTQ+ organizations.  

This website provides information about LGBTI rights in European countries. 

Some of my students come from religiously observant families and might believe that being LGBTQ+ goes against their religion. How can I introduce LGBTQ+ identities in my classroom whilst respecting their beliefs?  

Firstly, bear in mind that each faith is part of a spectrum of beliefs and that within each religion there are both more liberal and more conservative voices; do not just consider the most conservative or orthodox voices as spokespeople of the religion as these different positions will often view LGBTQ+ in different ways. 

Secondly, remember that when teaching topics like gender and sexuality, we do not have to ask students about their opinions (try to flip this around: how often do we ask about students’ attitudes towards heterosexuality? And would we ever ask a student about their attitude towards women?) We can teach relevant vocabulary and grammar, tell interesting stories, explore important people and historic events etc. without discussing whether we agree or disagree and without expressing our own attitude to them. This does not mean we cannot discuss problems and difficulties, of course, which would be another way of erasing the struggles that LGBTQ+ people face. 

Maybe a class could include several voices: for instance, someone identifying as both religious and LGBTQ+, or a spokesperson from an LGBTQ+ organisation talking about how to make room for different genders and sexualities within a religious space. 

Finally, this might also provide the opportunity in a classroom to talk about how we can use language to talk together and disagree while being respectful and mindful of the people we disagree with. 

When teaching, I encourage students to speak in the target language. Discussions about LGBTQ+ topics would require using advanced vocabulary. How can I introduce these topics in a beginner's course when students cannot yet engage in any extended discussions? 

Often it is not about introducing particular topics as such but rather about a critical approach to the materials you are already working with.  

You might consider these simple ideas for a beginner's course: 

  1. When introducing pronouns, explain how the pronouns are used by non-binary people in the language you teach. 
  2. In language materials covering vocabulary needed to talk about family, make sure students have access to basic words and grammatical structures to describe families that are not heteronormative. Sentences such as ‘She has a wife’ or ‘His dads’ names are Marcin and Ahmed’ are exactly the kind of language that beginners can understand already or should learn at this stage. 
  3. When introducing numbers, you can use statistics relating to LGBTQ+. For example, at https://www.ilga-europe.org/rainboweurope you can find maps and graphs with very little text. It is a useful resource that can be used to practise numbers in your target language in a meaningful context but without overwhelming beginners with content that is above their level.  
What do I do if my students respond negatively to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters?  

In many ways, it is precisely because some people still respond negatively to LGBTQ+ people that we have to ensure we include LGBTQ+ perspectives in our teaching.
While we do not all have to agree on everything, we can ensure that our classrooms and our pedagogy allow students to see and understand a range of perspectives and support them ‘to go beyond the world they already know to expand their range of human possibilities.’ (Giroux, 2020, p. 92) 

In Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2015-2020 UCL stated: ‘We wish to foster a positive cultural climate where all staff and students can flourish, where no-one will feel compelled to conceal or play down elements of their identity for fear of stigma. UCL will be a place where people can be authentic and their unique perspective, experiences and skills seen as a valuable asset to the institution.’ UCL is committed to ensuring a safe, welcoming and inclusive working and learning environment for all members of the UCL community. For more information see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusion/dignity-ucl/prevention-bullying-harassment-and-sexual-misconduct-policy

I want to read more

Below are some websites you might want to start with. We have added a few comments to make it easier to know where to begin. Please feel free to send us other key resources you know of so we can keep the list as up to date as possible (email: j.hansen@ucl.ac.uk)  

Further help

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Click to view references and further reading 

About LGBTQ+ issues 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/equality-act-guidance  - Equality Act 2010 protects people in the UK against discrimination, harassment or victimisation in employment, and as users of private and public services based on nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusion/committees-and-social-networks/outucl - Out@UCL is a staff social network and is a way for LGBTQ+ staff at UCL to get to know each other and take part in social events. 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusion/equalityucl/new-ucl-plan-launched-ensure-momentum-equity-and-inclusion/equity-and-inclusion-plan - UCL Equity and Inclusion Plan 2020-21 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusion/sites/equality-diversity-inclusion/files/edi_strategy_2015-2020.pdf - UCL Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2015-2020 

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/ - Stonewall is an LGBT rights charity in the United Kingdom.  


https://www.hrw.org/topic/lgbt-rights - Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world. HRW website gives access to content in many languages so it can serve as a source for texts in the language you teach. 

https://ilga.org/ - ILGA is a global voice of LGBTI networks, communities and movements.  

https://www.ilga-europe.org/ - ILGA-Europe website is a source of information regarding the current situation of LGBTI in Europe and Central Asia.  

https://rainbow-europe.org/  - Rainbow Europe brings together both the legal index of LGBTI equality based on their Rainbow Europe Map and an overview of the social climate for LGBTI people in each European country. It allows users to filter the map based on different themes, download reference materials for free and compare a particular country’s standing with the European average. 

https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/teaching-academy/documents/public/lgbt-best-practice-guide.PDF - A great and very inspiring best-practice-guide from the University of Birmingham. It is longer (40 pages) and goes into some discipline-specific discussions that were beyond the scope of this toolkit.  

About inclusive pedagogy 

https://education.gov.scot/improvement/practice-exemplars/inc80-engaging-with-lgbt-and-migrant-equalities/ - This learning resource is designed to facilitate an exploration of LGBTQ+ lives and an engagement with issues of sexual and gender diversity in the adult ESOL classroom. It explicitly addresses three protected characteristics under the 2010 Equality Act: sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status.  

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/resources/creating-lgbt-inclusive-secondary-curriculum - While this guide is aimed at secondary schools, it is a great source for inspiration. See especially page 26 onwards focusing on foreign language teaching. See also: Stonewall, Delivering LGBTQ+-inclusive Higher Education. 

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/academy/funding/2016-17fundedprojects/interdisciplinarityprojects/genderinclusiveteaching/ - Warwick International Higher Education Academy: Support for Trans & Gender-diverse Students and Learning in the Academic Context. 

https://blog.coerll.utexas.edu/inclusive-pedagogy/ - Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning University of Texas at Austin: Inclusive Pedagogy and the Language-Learning Classroom. 

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/publications/best-practices-for-serving-lgbtq-students - Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center: Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students 

https://www.developingteachers.com/articles_tchtraining/culturaldiversity_henny.htm - Cultural Diversity: Managing Same-Sex Orientation In The Classroom by Henny Burke 

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/gender-sexuality-english-language-education-focus-poland - Gender and sexuality in English language education: Focus on Poland by Łukasz Pakuła, Joanna Pawelczyk and Jane Sunderland  

https://queeringesol.wordpress.com/ -  Towards a cultural politics of LGBT issues in the ESOL classroom, a seminar series. 

Other literature

Backmann, C. and Gooch, B. (2018). LGBT in Britain – Health Report. Stonewall. https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_health.pdf   

Coda, J. (2017) ‘Disrupting Standard Practice: Queering the World Language Classroom’. Dimension. 

Eisenmann, M. and C. Ludwig (Eds.) (2018) Queer Beats – Gender and Literature in the EFL Classroom. Berlin: Peter Lang. 

Gray, J. (2021) 'Addressing LGBTQ erasure through literature in the ELT classroom'. ELT Journal.  

Gray, J. (2013) 'LGBT invisibility and heteronormativity in ELT materials'. In Gray, J. (ed.) Critical Perspectives on Language Teaching Materials. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Gray, J. and M. Cooke (2019) ‘Queering ESOL: sexual citizenship in ESOL classrooms’. In Cooke, M. and R. Peutrell (eds.) Brokering Britain, Educating Citizens. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 

Kullman, J. (2013) ‘Telling Tales: Changing Discourses of Identity in the “Global” UK-published English Language Coursebook’. In Gray, J. (ed.) Critical Perspectives on Language Teaching Materials. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Logan, S.R., Lasswell, T.A., Hood, Y. and Watson, D. (2014) ‘Criteria for the Selection of Young Adult Queer Literature’, English Journal. 103/5 : 30 41. 

Macdonald, S. (2014) Exploring LGBT Lives and Issues in Adult ESOL. https://esol.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/informational-page/Exploring_LGBT_Lives_Issues_Adult_ESOL.pdf  

Nelson, C. D. (2015) ‘LGBT content: why teachers fear it, why learners like it’. Language Issues: The ESOL Journal, Volume 26, Number 1, Summer 2015, pp. 6-12(7). 

Paiz, J. M. (2020) Queering the English Language Classroom: a practical guide for teachers. Sheffield: Equinox. 

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This guide has been produced by:

  • Authors: Jesper Hansen, Mazal Oaknin, Maria Smulewska-Dziadosz, Sandra Toffel
  • Additional support and contribution: Abbi Shaw
  • Feedback and contact with LESG: Anne Moore

The LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group (UCL LESG) have fully supported the development of this toolkit which will further LGBTQ+ equality at UCL:  

‘LESG welcome this resource as it expresses a strong commitment by academics to develop best practise, acknowledging and respecting all LGBTQ+ staff and student identities in teaching and learning at UCL.’ 

The authors want to send special thanks to Anne Moore for feedback and helpful comments on drafts of the toolkit. Like John, she bears no responsibility for any shortcoming.

You are welcome to use this guide if you are from another educational facility, but you must credit the project.