Friday, January 16, 2009

Majority of Illinois Colleges and Universities Flunk LGBTQ Equity

Chicago - The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the Alliance) just released Visibility Matters, the first statewide report card on LGBTQ presence in higher education and teacher preparation in Illinois. This landmark report examines the inclusion of sexual orientation (SO) and gender identity (GI) in university policies related to anti-discrimination and in student codes of conduct, and for SO and GI specifically in teacher education programs. Seventy-two percent, or forty-one out the state’s fifty-seven teacher education preparation programs, received a failing grade of F.

“Our taskforce is composed of researchers and scholars from Illinois universities,” states Associate Professor Erica Meiners, Professor of Education and Women’s Studies at Northeastern Illinois University and member of the Pre-Professional Project of the Alliance that authored the report. “We evaluated these programs based on the web because prospective teacher education students research potential programs via the internet and want to know how programs include and address LGBTQ communities.”

The report will be sent to university and college presidents across the state, and to the heads of teacher preparation programs.

“This project,” states Therese Quinn, Associate Professor of Education at the School of the Art Institute and member of the Pre-Professional Project, “aims to educate universities and colleges across Illinois that LGBTQ visibility and policies matter. We welcome amendments to this report. We are not interested in failing grades as an end-point; instead, this report shows where institutions can improve.”

The report offers a number of recommendations to improve grades, to strengthen policies and to increase LGBTQ visibility. Stacey Horn, Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the sole institution to receive an A, acknowledges that, “We expect teacher education programs to address all components of diversity – race, gender, ethnicity – and that sexual orientation and gender identity are also important aspects of the diversity picture.”

The full report, Visibility Matters: Higher Education and Teacher Preparation in Illinois: A Web-based Assessment of LGBTQ Presence, is available online here.