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. 

Spring forum materials organized by Diversity & Inclusion committee co-chair, Tiffany Palaniuk.

Forum Premise: 
Words and their multiple uses reflect the diversity that characterizes our society. Universally agreed upon language on issues related to racism is nonexistent. Even frequently-used words in any discussion on race can easily cause confusion, which leads to controversy and hostility. It is essential to achieve some degree of shared understanding and shared language, particularly when using the most common terms. By doing so, we enhance the quality of dialogue and discourse on race and identity. 
Source: Racial Equity Tools Institute 


  • Develop a shared language to use when discussing race and identity 
  • Examine how language terms evolve given changing demographics and the dynamic nature of language and understanding 
  • Underscore how historical and contemporary discrimination has shaped the use of racial equity terms 
  • ACTION ITEM:  What do we want them to do with these terms or this enhanced understanding of terms?

In spring 2021, College of Education staff and faculty gathered to reflect on the work being done by Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT). TRHT is a national and community-based process occurring in 14 communities across the nation. 

TRHT has several initiatives. The COE’s spring forum focused on TRHT’s initiative to create narrative change through language. To that end, the forum centered on the video #HowWeHeal (link: #HowWeHeal shares insights on how language has been used to perpetuate racist and deficit-based narratives; the video also includes ways in which we can consciously shift our language and encourage others to do the same to move away from a deficit-based perspective. Participants explored ways in which racial justice terms impact us on personal, professional, and interpersonal levels. Finally, the forum ended with a focus on why the narrative change in language is important and what we can do in our own practice to work toward narrative change in language. 


January 21, 2021 Diversity and Inclusion forum

The college held the first Diversity and Inclusion Forum in January as part of our commitment to the Call to Action statement : “Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.)”

A short recap of some key takeaways from our first forum along with a few resources shared in the meeting: 

  • How to apologize and focus on impact (instead of intent) 
  • Considering a shift away from “calling people out” to “calling people in” (NYT Article below) 
  • Importance of learning how to pronounce people’s names (or trying to correctly pronounce people’s names) 
  • Common coping strategies used by students when responding to incidents related to race (resource from University of Illinois Racial Microaggressions Project
  • What can we do as a college to encourage/enable our students to use empowering, constructive coping strategies? (connection to work done in our college committees) 
  • Approaches to take with our colleagues and students when we find ourselves in these uncomfortable situations 
  • Normalizing the behavior of asking others to hold us accountable/modeling the behavior of acknowledging our own mistakes in these situations in our roles as instructors and advisors


  • How to Apologize (video by YouTuber Chescaleigh)


  • NYT Article: What if instead of calling people out, we called them in? 


  • Crowdsourced Pronunciation Dictionary: 


  • “My Name, My Identity” Campaign 


This message has been approved by all governance committees within the College of Education. It aligns with the vision, mission and values of the college.

In the College of Education, our efforts toward equity are a work in progress. We acknowledge that in our history and present we have made mistakes, but we commit to engage in anti-racism work to better serve the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community. This commitment includes ongoing action, initially split into five foci, that has been integrated into our governance structure. To serve the needs of the BIPOC community, we will employ equitable student recruitment and retention practices;  examine pedagogy and update syllabi for non-bias and inclusive practices; engage in faculty/staff forums and trainings; review College research and scholarship support structures and policies, and create a welcoming environment in Furman Hall and beyond.

We as a College of Education commit to these actions by

  • Holding re-occurring “Call to Action” open sessions for faculty and staff to explore and discuss concerns and actions needed to further our efforts addressing racism.
  • Participating in DEI-focused leadership training (Leading Change for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) by all leadership team members.
  • Requiring search advocates for every competitive hire and creating a College policy to support equitable search practices for all college hiring.
  • Examining and improving equity in student recruitment and retention practices. 
  • Reviewing course syllabi and pedagogy across programs to identify equity-focused changes.
  • Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.).
  • Reviewing College research and scholarship support structures and policies to better support equity work, with explicit attention to serving the needs of the BIPOC community. 
  • Building structures and practices that support and highlight College research and scholarship that uncover and promote the alleviation of inequity, with explicit attention to the needs of the BIPOC community. 
  • Charging an ad hoc governance committee to explore changes to create a community and space that are welcoming for BIPOC students, faculty, and staff.

For more ideas, keep an eye out for information on our upcoming forums. Send questions, comments, concerns to