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Prairie, Tara Marisa
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Middle Tennessee State University
Introduction: Although bullying impacts students nationwide, evidence shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, and pansexual (LGBTQ+) youth experience bullying victimization at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ+ peers (Kann et al., 2016; Kosciw et al., 2013; Peterson et al., 2017; Singh et al., 2013). It is important for researchers to find adequate interventions that can help promote safe environments within schools for LGBTQ+ students. Previous research has found that participatory action research (PAR) such as collective memory work (CMW) shows potential for “developing ongoing positive social change in the environments” for transgender, queer, and questioning youth (Johnson, Singh & Gonzalez, 2014). Johnson et al., (2014) conducted a successful study utilizing CMW which led to the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition. This study seeks to replicate Johnson et al., (2014) and better understand the high school experiences of LGBTQ+ youth by examining the phenomenon through the theoretical framework of social constructionism using collective memory work (CMW) as the research method.
Methods: This dissertation involves collective memory work which involved recruiting (ages 12-24) to CMW stories. The first story should involve a high school memory that positively impacted their gender and/or sexual identity development and the second story should involve a high school memory that negatively impacted their gender and/or sexual identity development.
Results/Discussion: Replies were received from eight participants thus far with 62% attending high schools in rural areas. Specific to positive stories, participants report positive, supportive friends and allies confronting homophobic remarks or behaviors as having a positive impact. Also having a safe space such as “drama club” has a positive impact on how a participant viewed their identity. Specific to negative stories, overall schools are not supportive especially when addressing openly made homophobic remarks or tension and fighting. As reported by one student, even if unintentional, reinforcement of cisgender, heterosexual experiences as standard has a negative impact. Preliminary results suggest that bullying of LGBTQ+ students is an issue and that schools do not adequately address or try to prevent bullying within their schools. We need to receive additional results to help build a knowledge base to guide further research.
Bullying, Collective Memory Work, Education, LGBTQIA+, Social Constructionist Theory, Tennessee