K-12 Seminar: “Teaching Northern Colorado’s LGBTQ+ Past in the K-12 Classroom”

Applications are now closed.

Tentative Dates: June 19-24th, 2022 (Sunday – Friday, detailed schedule to follow)
Location: Colorado State University campus (Fort Collins, CO)

Members of the Fort Collins Gay & Lesbian Alliance march in a pride parade in Denver, Colorado, ca. 1983.

Current and rising K-12 educators in the state of Colorado (and southern Wyoming) are invited to apply for our Summer 2022 seminar, “Teaching Northern Colorado’s LGBTQ+ Past in the K-12 Classroom.” The seminar is tentatively scheduled for June 19-24, 2022 on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The seminar is the first to be offered by the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado, an educational and community-based research project conducted by faculty and students at CSU. This seminar is the most recent Carl A. Bimson Humanities Seminar offered by the College of Liberal Arts, which brings together CSU faculty and K-12 educators to “engage in advanced study of [a] topic of humanistic learning.” All interested educators will need to complete a brief application to be considered (approx. 10 minutes to complete). The priority deadline to apply was March 20th, 2022; however, we will continue to accept applications until the seminar is full.

You can learn more about the seminar, as well as submit your application, below:

If you have questions about the seminar, please contact the seminar facilitator, Dr. Thomas R. Dunn at thomas.dunn@colostate.edu.

You should receive a confirmation by e-mail that your application was received within 48 hours of submission. If you do not receive that confirmation e-mail, or if you have any difficulty accessing the application, please contact thomas.dunn@colostate.edu.

Seminar Rationale

On February 20, 2019, HB19-1192 was introduced in the Colorado General Assembly, providing for “the inclusion of matters relating to American minorities in the teaching of social contributions in civil government in public schools,” including “the history, culture, and social contributions of…lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals,” with a particular emphasis on the contributions of folx who share other minoritized and marginalized identity categories. This bill was signed into law on May 28, 2019, making teaching these important and forgotten parts of our shared past a requirement in Colorado public schools in the next few years. One way we expect to see this law implemented is with increased discussion of LGBTQ+ history in social studies lesson plans and curriculums — as well as across other subject matter areas throughout K-12 education. Anticipating this curricular change, this seminar will provide knowledge, space, and resources to support a community of educators as they assist district leaders in implementing these changes.

However, recent interdisciplinary research reveals that the implementation of inclusive curriculum laws like HB12-1192 often fall short of their lofty goals. In the aftermath of similar legislation in other nations and U.S. states, scholars have noted significant challenges, including: the lack of knowledge about these laws by educators and school leaders, a lack of clarity about the role of teachers in implementing these new curricular imperatives, failures to monitor or implement the policy at the local level, a lack of understanding about why these policies are meaningful and important, and an absence of “high-quality resources and curriculum” to use in the classroom. Other scholarship has found district-level resistance to these laws, some of which may place additional obstacles in implementing these laws at the local level. Still other scholarship reveals the vast majority of the responsibility for these changes fall on educators (i.e. “self-supporting implementers”) who face challenges of inadequate time, resources, and knowledge—even when they are highly invested in seeing these changes bear fruit in their classrooms. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has only increased hardships on educators who may wish to further these curricular changes but simply do not have the time or resources to do so in their day to day work.

Meanwhile, states that have attempted to diversify their curriculums to include the contributions of LGBTQ+ people have regularly been limited by the kinds of stories they have to tell. In particular, while students benefit greatly from learning about the events, people, and movements that shaped the U.S.-American LGBTQ+ experience generally, the names , places, and organizations they learn about are often relatively recent and geographically far away. As such, students who are given the opportunity to learn about the LGBTQ+ past in their classrooms and learning materials often come away with the belief that LGBTQ+ history is a story about other people living elsewhere, never realizing the rich, local LGBTQ+ lives that have been lived to great effect in their own communities.

This seminar aims to address these dual challenges with the aim of increasing the possibility that the LGBTQ+ past—particularly the LGBTQ+ past of Northern Colorado—is taught in a meaningful way in the region’s K-12 curriculum.

Seminar Description

The seminar is a hands-on, six (6) -day collaborative event between the seminar leader, guest speakers, and a class of fifteen to twenty K-12 educators. At its core, the seminar aims to support K-12 educators interested in building more LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculums and lesson plans by providing them with cutting-edge information from researchers and experts, insights on Northern Colorado’s LGBTQ+ past, as well as time, space, and support to conduct this vital work. This seminar is conceived as a collaborative partnership between CSU faculty experts/guest speakers and K-12 educators, each of which will contribute to an important final product.

The seminar will be divided into two halves. During the first half of the seminar, educators will learn about challenges and opportunities in introducing LGBTQ+ historical content into the K-12 classroom. In particular, the seminar leader, participants, and a series of invited guest speakers will discuss topics like:

  • the history of advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculums in other U.S. states and localities and around the world
  • how LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in the curriculum benefits all students
  • Colorado-specific legislation to build a more LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum, including existing and developing rhetorics from HB19-1192 and the Colorado Academic Standards in History and Civics
  • what existing research tells us about the success and failures in implementing LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculums and lesson plans

In its seminar’s second half, educators will pivot toward the co-creation of engaging and well-researched LGBTQ+ affirming lesson plans for K-12 classrooms in the region. In particular, educators will work with the seminar leader and other members of the Queer Memory Project to identify and research relevant people, institutions, and events in the region’s LGBTQ+ past that might form the foundation of a more LGBTQ+ inclusive lesson plan. Educators will have the opportunity to review, access, and request materials from the public and non-public portions of QMP Online Archive, records and documents from regional archives, and a range of LGBTQ online databases. Then, working as individuals or in teams, educators will draw on this research and their expertise in the classroom to craft new (or heavily revise) lesson plans for K-12 students. Educators will share their lesson plans with the group as well as be invited to share these lesson plans with other educators.

Seminar Participant Support

Admitted participants to the seminar will be supported with a number of materials, resources, and opportunities to help them build out their LGBTQ+ lesson plans, including:

  • A small stipend ($250) recognizing their professional time and efforts (dispersed at the end of the seminar)
  • Selected readings and materials supporting the work of the seminar and the work that continues after the seminar ends
  • Access to local and regional archives and online databases, as well as support in requesting copying, image reproductions, citational support, etc.
  • Guidance from the seminar leader and QMP members on existing LGBTQ+ historical research on LGBTQ+ people, places, organizations, and events from the region
  • Talks and Q&A sessions with community leaders, academic researchers, and others who operate in these areas
  • Lunches over the six-day seminar, as well as snacks and coffee
  • A letter of completion at the end of the seminar

Seminar participants will be expected to provide their own laptop and/or writing materials. We expect all seminar participants will be provided access to WiFi.

Seminar Leader

Dr. Tom Dunn [he/him/his]. Tom is the Director of the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado, Monfort Professor, and an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He has been researching and writing about LGBTQ+ memory, history, and the queer past since 2005. He is an award-winning teacher and researcher. His first book is entitled Queerly Remembered: Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ+ Past and he is currently at work on his second book, Remembering the Pink Triangles: U.S.-American Memories of the Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals before HIV/AIDS. He resides in Fort Collins with his family.

How to Apply

Interested educators must apply online to the seminar to be considered for participation. Participation is limited to K-12 educators; all applicants will be asked to affirm their status as current or rising (i.e., college student or recent college graduate pursuing a K-12 career) K-12 educators in the application. While much of the focus of the seminar will be devoted to social studies topics at the middle and high school levels, educators at all levels and in all subject areas are welcome and encouraged to apply. While any educator is eligible for consideration, educators from Northern Colorado (broadly considered) and southern Wyoming are particularly encouraged to apply, as QMP primarily researches communities in this region. Educators will be selected for inclusion in the seminar based on the strength of their application, which will include a brief statement (100-500 words) explaining their interest(s) in the seminar.

You should receive a confirmation by e-mail that your application was received within 48 hours of submission. If you do not receive that confirmation e-mail, or if you have any difficulty accessing the application, please contact thomas.dunn@colostate.edu.

Acknowledgments + Funding

“Teaching Northern Colorado’s LGBTQ+ Past in the K-12 Classroom” is made possible with the support of the Carl A. Bimson Humanities Seminar grant. The grant is competitively awarded on an annual basis by College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University. Additional support is also provided by the Monfort Professorship fund at Colorado State University.