Chicago - The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the Alliance) just released Visibility Matters 2012, an update to the statewide report card on LGBTQ presence in higher education and teacher preparation in Illinois. This 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 and social work preparation programs. Forty percent, or twenty-four of the state's sixty teacher education preparation programs, received a failing grade of F. Thirty-two percent, or seven of the state's twenty-two social worker preparation programs, received a D or an F.
"Our taskforce is composed of researchers and scholars from Illinois universities," states 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/social work students research potential programs via the internet and want to know how programs include and address LGBTQ communities."
For Visibility Matters 2012 we are pleased to report that fourteen universities received As in teacher preparation up from just three two years ago," stated Shannon Sullivan, Executive Director of the Alliance. "Social work preparation programs also saw an increase in Asfrom four two years ago to 9 in 2012." "Although all social work programs are required to include content on LGBTQ issues, there are faith-based colleges and universities preparing social workers that have perspectives in opposition to these topics," added Pamela Konkol, Associate Professor, Director, Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice at Concordia University and member of the Pre-Professional Project.
"This project," states Therese Quinn, Director of Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and member of the Pre-Professional Project, "aims to educate universities and colleges across Illinois that LGBTQ visibility and policies matter. The report shows that institutions can make great strides. For example, in 2009 just 16% of universities included gender identity in policies. This year, 42% include gender identity."
The report offers a number of recommendations to improve grades, to strengthen policies and to increase LGBTQ visibility. Isabel Nunez, Associate Professor, Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice, Concordia University and member of the Pre-Professional Project acknowledges that, "We expect teacher and social worker 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 2012: Higher Education and Teacher/Social Work Preparation in Illinois: A Web-based Assessment of LGBTQ Presence, is available online at www.illinoissafeschools.org .