Inclusivity and supportive learning environments are crucial for our students’ success, that is why we’ve asked Dr. April LaGue for advice on how we can better develop our curriculum and learning environments to support the LGBTQAI+ community. Read on to find out more! 

Providing an inclusive and affirming curriculum for all students 

In the realm of education, it is crucial that our curriculum aligns with the mission and vision of the College of Education. This sentiment is particularly emphasized by Dr. LaGue, a faculty member responsible for delivering instruction to students pursuing both school and mental health counseling degrees. Dr. LaGue underscores the significance of creating an environment where all students feel acknowledged, valued and supported. 

To achieve this, Dr. LaGue proposes several essential elements that should be incorporated into our curriculum. This includes: 

  • Accessibility and Innovation: By ensuring that our curriculum is accessible to all learners, we can break down barriers and provide equal opportunities for every student. Moreover, embracing innovation when designing our curriculum allows us to engage students in dynamic and transformative learning experiences. 
  • The need for a diverse and representative author population as well as historical narratives: By incorporating perspectives from various backgrounds and cultures, and presenting a comprehensive view of history that incorporates the experiences of marginalized communities, we can foster inclusivity and provide students with a well-rounded education that reflects the diversity of our society. 
  • Delivering education through a social justice lens: We need to integrate anti-bias education, which challenges stereotypes, biases, and prejudices. By doing so, we foster empathy, promote inclusivity, and encourage students to critically analyze societal issues through a lens of fairness and equality. 
  • Regular assessment and revision of our curriculum: This ensures that we address any gaps, strengthen its impact, and continue to provide an educational experience that meets the needs of all students 

Providing an inclusive and supportive learning environment for LGBTQAI+ students 

To create a truly supportive learning environment, it is essential that we take proactive steps to foster inclusivity and acceptance. Here are six key strategies Dr. LaGue emphasized that can contribute to this important goal: 

  1. Establishing explicit classroom guidelines that prohibit any form of bullying, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. By clearly outlining these expectations, we set a foundation for respectful and inclusive interactions among students. 
  1. Displaying inclusive and affirming symbols, posters, or literature throughout the learning environment can serve as powerful visual reminders of diversity and acceptance. This can help create a safe and welcoming space for students who identify as LGBTQAI+. 
  1. Actively engaging with LGBTQAI+ organizations or experts to gain insights and resources. By seeking their expertise, we can gain a deep understanding of the challenges faced by LGBTQAI+ individuals and access relevant materials that can enhance our curriculum and teaching approaches. 
  1. Avoid assumptions about students’ identities and utilize gender-neutral language whenever appropriate. Respecting students’ self-identification, chosen names, and pronouns is essential in creating an inclusive environment that acknowledges and affirms their individuality. 
  1. Collaborate with local or on-campus LGBTQAI+ organizations or community centers. By inviting guest speakers from these organizations, we can provide students with diverse perspectives and experiences, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for LGBTQAI+ issues. 
  1. Foster a culture where differences are celebrated and respected. This can be achieved by promoting open dialogue, understanding, and empathy through discussions, presentations, or awareness campaigns focused on LGBTQAI+ topics. By encouraging students to actively engage in these conversations, we empower them to become advocates for equality and inclusion. 

What Dr. LaGue has learned while working with LGBTQAI+ students in supporting them 

Dr. LaGue believes the importance of recognizing intersectionality is a crucial aspect of understanding the experiences of individuals within the LGBTQAI+ community. Their journeys are influenced by the complex interplay of multiple identities, including race, ethnicity, disability, and socioeconomic status, alongside their LGBTQAI+ identity. To truly support and empower these individuals, it is essential to actively listen to their stories, respect their self-identified labels, and allow them to define their own experiences. By fostering a non-judgmental learning environment that promotes empathy and validation of their experiences and concerns, we can create a space where every individual feels seen, understood, and valued. 

Conclusion & Resources 

In summary, Dr. LaGue underscores the importance of aligning our curriculum with the College of Education’s mission and vision. Through our collective efforts, we can ensure that all students feel valued, respected, and empowered to thrive academically and personally and always feel that they have a safe space to express themselves. Dr. LaGue devotes her work to her students’ success and is a valued member of the Oregon Department of Education LGBTQ2SIA+ student success committee. Click here for more LGBTQ2SIA+ resources. 

Xin chào from Vietnam!

I am so excited to be updating you about my last couple of months as a United States Fulbright
Scholar in Hà Nội, Vietnam. I am all settled in and find myself comfortable with daily routines at
work and home. Life is good!

Turns out, my Vietnamese colleagues usually work 5 ½ days per week including Saturday
mornings compared to usually a 5-day work week for most people back home! They do,
however, take naps after lunch, so in the end it sums up to about the same work hours per

On the Mekong Delta

My colleagues and I are enjoying our weekly English Club meetings where we have discussions
about academic issues, Vietnamese and American cultures, and practice each other’s
languages. In one of our club meetings, we discussed Vietnamese cuisine where we brought in
and shared our favorite dishes for others to experience. We also discuss cultural bias and
attitudes in order to explain differences in reactions and behaviors with an emphasis on
understanding and empathy. These discussions can be a lot of fun, and are always interesting!
One of our meetings covered differences in health care in Vietnam and the U.S. In Vietnam,
health care quality is similar to that in the US in larger cities with well-trained doctors. However,
in rural areas health care can be quite limited. In both urban and rural areas, the pharmacy
serves as an urgent care clinic, with the pharmacist diagnosing minor illness and injuries and
dispensing medicine, often with no prescription required. Vietnamese usually pay out-of-pocket,
but health care services are much less expensive than those in the U.S. Wealthier Vietnamese
often carry health insurance, which is often sold in combination with life insurance.

In addition to English Club and a number of guest-speaking opportunities in my colleagues’
education courses, I participate in a number of research seminars and workshops. These have
included the Hanoi Forum on Pedagogical and Educational Sciences in which I presented
research on teacher change and professional development. I also gave a seminar on publishing
in international journals, where I discussed how to select appropriate Western journals and
explained tiered journal rankings.

Most recently, I was invited by EducationUSA of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to give a
presentation on accreditation in American universities to Vietnamese high school counselors.
The goal was to provide a quality check that counselors could use to help their students avoid
“diploma mills” in the US.

It is common for me to be asked to give the “U.S. perspective” on a variety of seemingly random
topics. So anytime I’m invited to an event, I’ve learned that I need to be prepared to speak, even
though the presentations are nearly always in Vietnamese. During one occasion, the speaker
mentioned my name during his presentation which was otherwise in Vietnamese. I asked my
friend sitting next to me what the speaker had said, to which my friend replied: “He introduced
you as the next speaker.” I had no idea that I was speaking that day!

Teacher Change Presentation and Reaction Panel

The university celebrated Teacher’s Day on November 19th, where we enjoyed skits, dances
and songs from the students. I had the opportunity to present a response to the keynote session
saddressing Liberal Art Education philosophy and its relationship to teacher preparation.
Providing the response was a challenge, given that the keynote was delivered entirely in
Vietnamese with no translation! I’ve learned to adopt a can-do Beaver attitude and just do my
best in these situations, and so far that’s been enough! During the celebration I was honored to
give the Handwriting Awards and sing a song with my Vietnamese colleagues. I was even
coerced into trying my hand (or more literally foot) onstage in the Vietnamese bamboo pole
dance performed by our student members of the Muong ethnic group!

Receiving Student Award at the Teachers Day Celebration

Unfortunately, in early December I tested positive for Covid-19 after a short trip to Phú Quốc
Island. I used my week in isolation to assist the U.S. Embassy in evaluating the 29 applications
for the Vietnamese Visiting Scholar Program. Luckily, I was in the clear in time for the applicant
evaluation panel, which took place in the beautiful mountain city of Đà Lạt.

In January, I had the opportunity to visit Olympia Schools, an international school that is
primarily for Vietnamese students. Here, I discussed with partnership executive Đỗ Dương
Hồng Đào the feasibility of the school hosting Oregon State education interns to provide English
and pedagogy support as the school adopts more experiential and inquiry-based learning. Ms.
Đào agreed to write a draft plan for possible internships and then invited me to give a STEM/
STEAM speech to the Olympia students. Later in February, the head of the science department
for Olympia Schools informed me that they could host interns during the annual summer camp
(2 sessions, 4 weeks each). She also offered me the opportunity to conduct a lesson on the
nature of science for students this coming Spring, as well as a workshop on inquiry instruction
for the science teachers. I’m so pleased to have made contact with Olympia schools and for the
enthusiastic reception I have received there.

Fulbright-Sponsored Trip to the Mekong Delta

Mua Caves in Ninh Binh
Núi Cốc Lake Near Thái Nguyên

I had several opportunities to travel and celebrate the Vietnamese holidays. For example, I was
able to visit beautiful Phú Quốc Island and also the northern city of Thái Nguyên where the
faculty and I prepared Bánh Chưng, a type of rice cake prepared for the Tết Holiday. We also
visited Núi Cốc lake and then returned to Hà Nội, where we celebrated the New Year and
watched the firework celebrations from afar. In January, I met with some friends to celebrate my
birthday and visit the War Remnants Museum. The museum displays were both tragic and
enlightening and helped me better understand the suffering the war brought to both sides and
appreciate even more the warm welcome I’ve received from my Vietnamese friends.

In closing, it’s been an incredible experience here in Vietnam and I am very excited for what lies
ahead and will be sending more updates soon!

Tạm biệt bây giờ!

Sunset at Phú Quốc Island

Dr. Amanda Kibler, a professor in the College of Education, centers her research and interest in
language and literacy development for multilingual children, adolescents, and families who are
from immigrant backgrounds and are learning English as an additional language in the United
States. In her recent publication in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and
Bilingualism, “‘I’ll be the hero’: how adolescents negotiate intersectional identities within a high
school language program”, Dr. Kibler examines students in dual language immersion programs
— where students from different language backgrounds learned Spanish and English together
— and witnesses the interactions and negotiations between students and their identities.

Dr. Kibler uses the term “intersectional identities” throughout her research. She explains this as
an “idea that our identities are both multiple and they’re inseparable from each other… and that
particular combinations of identities might bring us more or less power and privilege in a

These identities are related to age, race, gender, class, language, gender, sexuality, etc. Kibler
also describes intersectional identities as having a micro and macro level that makes you who
you are. Macro levels would be the items listed above, and micro levels are things that come up
during our interactions with others such as how to hold a conversation or engage with others.
Dr. Kibler explains that within our school systems, intersectional identities are often ignored.
Students are typically treated as a single category or a single box to check, which inaccurately
reduces complex people to singular labels. This can lead to stereotyping and can create
inaccurate and unfair expectations for how a student may perform.

During Dr. Kibler’s study, Spanish- and English-background adolescents in a dual language
immersion classroom were given a task of creating a bilingual children’s book for elementary
school children. Kibler’s research team observed how the adolescents brought themselves into
the conversation of writing these books and how they “negotiated” their complex identities that
may have had more or less power in that setting.

During the creation of their books, the adolescents put together not only their academic
identities, but also their social, extracurricular, racial, linguistic and gendered identities. For
multilingual students from immigrant backgrounds who spoke Spanish as a home language, Dr.
Kibler and her colleagues found that students’ Spanish expertise both helped and hindered their
efforts to assert powerful and positive identities in the dual language program. In some cases,
these students’ expertise in Spanish helped them create more privileged identities for
themselves that disrupted traditional power dynamics. In other cases, however, peers’
misunderstandings about these multilingual students’ Spanish expertise led to them being seen
as either uncooperative or unskilled in their own home languages. So how can teachers use Dr. Kibler’s information to enhance learning and involvement in class?

One way is to make sure students feel like they are in a safe and accepting environment to be
able to claim their own identities. Stereotypes exist even in dual language programs, and so
teachers in all settings need to consider issues of power and privilege.

“Multilingual adolescents may bring some very powerful identities, and some very marginalized
identities in combination, and we have to listen to them to understand what those identities are,”
said Dr. Kibler.

Listening carefully to their students — rather than making assumptions — can help teachers
understand who and what their identities are. Dr. Kibler also states that it is important to talk
directly with the students and encourage them to challenge stereotypes inside and outside the
classroom so that both educators and students can work together to create more equitable classroom environments.