Allies for equity: supporting youth in the GLBT community
Annie Hansen, Ph.D., lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology, is using data to inform practice. Building on the research she did as a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, Hansen continues to search for a deeper understanding of local GLBT youth communities through her involvement with Out for Equity. Part of Saint Paul Public School's Office of Educational Equity, Out for Equity is dedicated to providing a safe, supportive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students, staff, and families.
Hansen discovered Out for Equity as a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota five years ago and completed a practicum there under the supervision of program coordinator, Alan Horowitz. Together, Hansen and Horowitz have presented some of their findings related to school climate change, drawing on Horowitz's deep understanding of GLBT issues and Hansen's background in educational psychology and research.
Using questions that come out of the classes she teaches now at the University, Hansen continues her research on school climate change and the development of GLBT allies, defined by Hansen as people who stand up for those who are oppressed. She and some of her University of Minnesota students volunteer at An Evening Out, a weekly event for GLBT high school students and allies promoted by Out for Equity at the Hancock Recreation Center in Saint Paul. Students come to the center to play basketball, foosball, and bingo, make art, hang out, and watch movies together.
Hansen and two of her graduate students are also conducting a study of local students who have identified themselves as allies. They recognize that this group of students is not necessarily representative of students across the state. Nevertheless, they seek to understand who these particular kids are and why they are standing up for others. Hansen would like to bring the results of the ally research back to the high school students with whom she volunteers in order to help them to build more allies and address problems related to school bullying.