Coming out to the class: Identifying factors that influence college biology instructor decisions about revealing their lgbq identities in class

Katelyn M. Cooper, Sara E. Brownell, Cara Gormally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identity is an understudied yet potentially important identity for individuals in an undergraduate biology classroom. Although the choice to “come out” or reveal one’s LGBTQ identity is a personal decision, LGBTQ college instructors may positively impact students when they reveal their identity in the classroom. We conducted a national survey of LGBTQ biology instructors about their experiences as members of the LGBTQ community teaching college biology. We found that over half of the biology instructors that we surveyed are out to their work colleagues, but less than 20% are out to their students. Additionally, we conducted semistructured interviews with 11 LGBQ college biology instructors and applied the expectancy value theory to understand what influences instructors’ decisions about whether to reveal their LGBQ identities to students in their college biology classrooms. From the interviews, we identified a suite of potential costs and benefits associated with instructors coming out to their classes. Costs included wasted class time that could be spent teaching biology content, the instructor potentially losing their job, and students developing a negative view of the instructor. Benefits included the instructor living more authentically, students feeling more comfortable in the classroom, students knowing a supporter of the LGBTQ community in the classroom, and students having an LGBQ role model in science. Based on these findings, we highlight how perceiving high value and low cost to coming out is relevant for instructors’ decisions to reveal their LGBQ identities in their college classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-282
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

biology
instructor
Students
classroom
student
Teaching
Costs
costs
value theory
role model
interview
community
science

Keywords

  • Biology
  • Coming out
  • Expectancy value theory
  • Inclusive teaching practices
  • Instructors
  • LGB
  • LGBQ
  • LGBQ
  • LGBT
  • STEM
  • Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

Cite this

@article{89898ce211a14921bed72daa70bab5db,
title = "Coming out to the class: Identifying factors that influence college biology instructor decisions about revealing their lgbq identities in class",
abstract = "The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identity is an understudied yet potentially important identity for individuals in an undergraduate biology classroom. Although the choice to “come out” or reveal one’s LGBTQ identity is a personal decision, LGBTQ college instructors may positively impact students when they reveal their identity in the classroom. We conducted a national survey of LGBTQ biology instructors about their experiences as members of the LGBTQ community teaching college biology. We found that over half of the biology instructors that we surveyed are out to their work colleagues, but less than 20{\%} are out to their students. Additionally, we conducted semistructured interviews with 11 LGBQ college biology instructors and applied the expectancy value theory to understand what influences instructors’ decisions about whether to reveal their LGBQ identities to students in their college biology classrooms. From the interviews, we identified a suite of potential costs and benefits associated with instructors coming out to their classes. Costs included wasted class time that could be spent teaching biology content, the instructor potentially losing their job, and students developing a negative view of the instructor. Benefits included the instructor living more authentically, students feeling more comfortable in the classroom, students knowing a supporter of the LGBTQ community in the classroom, and students having an LGBQ role model in science. Based on these findings, we highlight how perceiving high value and low cost to coming out is relevant for instructors’ decisions to reveal their LGBQ identities in their college classrooms.",
keywords = "Biology, Coming out, Expectancy value theory, Inclusive teaching practices, Instructors, LGB, LGBQ, LGBQ, LGBT, STEM, Undergraduate",
author = "Cooper, {Katelyn M.} and Brownell, {Sara E.} and Cara Gormally",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2019026085",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "25",
pages = "261--282",
journal = "Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering",
issn = "1072-8325",
publisher = "Begell House Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Coming out to the class

T2 - Identifying factors that influence college biology instructor decisions about revealing their lgbq identities in class

AU - Cooper, Katelyn M.

AU - Brownell, Sara E.

AU - Gormally, Cara

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identity is an understudied yet potentially important identity for individuals in an undergraduate biology classroom. Although the choice to “come out” or reveal one’s LGBTQ identity is a personal decision, LGBTQ college instructors may positively impact students when they reveal their identity in the classroom. We conducted a national survey of LGBTQ biology instructors about their experiences as members of the LGBTQ community teaching college biology. We found that over half of the biology instructors that we surveyed are out to their work colleagues, but less than 20% are out to their students. Additionally, we conducted semistructured interviews with 11 LGBQ college biology instructors and applied the expectancy value theory to understand what influences instructors’ decisions about whether to reveal their LGBQ identities to students in their college biology classrooms. From the interviews, we identified a suite of potential costs and benefits associated with instructors coming out to their classes. Costs included wasted class time that could be spent teaching biology content, the instructor potentially losing their job, and students developing a negative view of the instructor. Benefits included the instructor living more authentically, students feeling more comfortable in the classroom, students knowing a supporter of the LGBTQ community in the classroom, and students having an LGBQ role model in science. Based on these findings, we highlight how perceiving high value and low cost to coming out is relevant for instructors’ decisions to reveal their LGBQ identities in their college classrooms.

AB - The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identity is an understudied yet potentially important identity for individuals in an undergraduate biology classroom. Although the choice to “come out” or reveal one’s LGBTQ identity is a personal decision, LGBTQ college instructors may positively impact students when they reveal their identity in the classroom. We conducted a national survey of LGBTQ biology instructors about their experiences as members of the LGBTQ community teaching college biology. We found that over half of the biology instructors that we surveyed are out to their work colleagues, but less than 20% are out to their students. Additionally, we conducted semistructured interviews with 11 LGBQ college biology instructors and applied the expectancy value theory to understand what influences instructors’ decisions about whether to reveal their LGBQ identities to students in their college biology classrooms. From the interviews, we identified a suite of potential costs and benefits associated with instructors coming out to their classes. Costs included wasted class time that could be spent teaching biology content, the instructor potentially losing their job, and students developing a negative view of the instructor. Benefits included the instructor living more authentically, students feeling more comfortable in the classroom, students knowing a supporter of the LGBTQ community in the classroom, and students having an LGBQ role model in science. Based on these findings, we highlight how perceiving high value and low cost to coming out is relevant for instructors’ decisions to reveal their LGBQ identities in their college classrooms.

KW - Biology

KW - Coming out

KW - Expectancy value theory

KW - Inclusive teaching practices

KW - Instructors

KW - LGB

KW - LGBQ

KW - LGBQ

KW - LGBT

KW - STEM

KW - Undergraduate

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85074748800&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85074748800&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2019026085

DO - 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2019026085

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85074748800

VL - 25

SP - 261

EP - 282

JO - Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

JF - Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

SN - 1072-8325

IS - 3

ER -