Another 2e? Being Gifted and LGBTQ

Some of you may have noticed that my intent to post every other week was optimistic. This may or may not have been affected by the start of my accelerated graduate courses.

Yes, I have a full-time teaching job and made the decision to begin my Master’s degree this year. Am I crazy? Probably. The Master’s program runs summer-to-summer because that was the fastest, most efficient way to do it. This has kept me quite busy and reminds me I could do with some speed-reading lessons.  Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit of material covered daily in 5-8 week classes. My new goal is to write in between writing for my classes when possible.

Reviewing articles about current studies in the field of gifted education has been a focus of several of my classes. This requires that I spend quite a bit of time skimming multiple articles in search of one to write about for a class. While completing an assignment in one of my courses, I came across a journal article with some information that I think warrants discussion.

The article was entitled “Social Coping Strategies of Gifted and LGBTQ Adolescents” and can be found in the 2014 Journal for the Education of the Gifted.  (Consider searching for it on Google Scholar with the DOI in the reference below.  I do not have permission to link the full study here.) This study examined social coping strategies of students that are gifted and LGBTQ.

There were some limitations to the study: students interviewed were from the same elite college, all belonged to the school’s Gay Straight Alliance organization, all were already identified in some way as gifted, and all were undergraduate students who had already “come out”.

What I found interesting was that the coping strategies shared by the study participants were very similar to their coping strategies as a gifted student. Some strategies that participants reported using were:  establishing groups of friends that were supportive or finding supportive teachers, hiding their LGBTQ identity and/or researching the topic of LGBTQ identity to better understand it, and expressing themselves through writing, leadership, and musical endeavors.  Another interesting thing to note was that participants expressed the belief that their giftedness motivated and enabled them to seek out and create areas that were safe in order to cope due to their LGBTQ identity. Suggestions were provided by participants regarding school cultures and policies that would be inclusive and welcoming to gifted and LGBTQ individuals.

There is a lot of literature currently available that discusses the importance of identifying and serving underrepresented populations and twice exceptional students. Underrepresented populations typically include students from poverty, students of color, and students learning English as a second language, as these students are often missed or are hard to identify with current procedures in many gifted programs. Twice exceptional students typically include gifted students that have an additional challenge they face, such as ADHD or a learning disability. As a result, there are efforts to improve gifted identification methods and put systems in place to support these students.

In my opinion, the LGBTQ gifted student isn’t included enough in many of these discussions.  The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) does, however, have several resources for teachers and parents of gifted LGBTQ youth on their website. I think further attention to these students’ needs is warranted. In addition, when considering the social and emotional challenges that many gifted students face, if we add to those challenges identifying as LGBTQ, we may have another twice-exceptional designation that needs unique and differentiated support.  It is important, I think, to consider the 2e status of the gifted LGBTQ student and their specific social and emotional needs for healthy development. I also believe that these marginalized students need to be fully included in conversations about gifted education.

This topic is intriguing to me and I am interested in seeing what other work has been done in this area to determine the best way to support this gifted population beyond simple acknowledgement.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Please feel free to comment above!

Reference

Hutcheson, V. H., & Tieso, C. L. (2014). Social coping of gifted and LGBTQ adolescents. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 37(4), 355-377. doi:10.1177/0162353214552563

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). LGBTQ diversity toolbox for parents. Retrieved from: https://www.nagc.org/lgbtq-diversity-toolbox-parents-introduction

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). LGBTQ diversity toolbox for teachers. Retrieved from: https://www.nagc.org/lgbtq-diversity-toolbox-teachers-introduction

 

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