Seen and heard: what role can learning development play in LGBTQ+ inclusion?




LGBTQ students, trauma-informed pedagogy, learning development, higher education, inclusive practice


An inclusive approach to teaching LGBTQ+ students in university is vital. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Friedman et al., 2011; Miranda-Mendizábal et al., 2017; Craig et al., 2020). They suffer minority stress (Meyer, 2003) and are more likely to have experienced early trauma (Craig et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2021). Particular attention is needed for the most vulnerable LGBTQ+ students such as bisexual and transgender individuals (Gnan et al., 2019). Whilst literature exists on LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching (Moore, 2014; Mikulec, 2016), there is a considerable research gap specifically addressing the pedagogical potential of learning development as a vehicle for this.

Building on the foundation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and decolonisation, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy (TIP) acknowledges the barriers to learning faced by trauma-experienced students and promotes inclusive approaches (Baker, 2022). Using the TIP framework, the session invited delegates to consider how the trauma-informed educator can create and maintain a safe, inclusive and empowering learning space. We invited delegates to reflect on their own inclusive practices in relation to LGBTQ+ students and how to best support the needs of a group who can remain largely invisible. Using case studies, we explored how TIP approaches can be applied in a learning development context to benefit not only LGBTQ+ students, but the student body as a whole.

Author Biographies

Beverley Hancock-Smith, De Montfort University

Beverley Hancock-Smith (she/her) has taught in further and higher education for 14 years and is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Study Support at De Montfort University (DMU). Bev is an active member of the LGBTQ+ Network at DMU and recently contributed to the Routledge publication Trauma-Informed Pedagogy in Higher Education (Stromberg, 2023). Bev co-authored a chapter exploring the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students in higher education which in turn informed this conference session.

Zara Hooley, De Montfort University

Zara Hooley (she/her) has taught in secondary and higher education for 23 years and is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Study Support at De Montfort University (DMU). Zara has a PhD in Sociology focusing on same-sex family creation and friendship. Zara is an active member of the Centre for Reproductive Research where she works as a freelance Research Assistant.


Baker, K. (2022) ‘Mays Imad on trauma-informed pedagogy’, The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 31(2).

Craig, S. L., Austin, A., Levenson, J., Leung, V.W., Eaton, A. D. and D’Souza, S. A. (2020) ‘Frequencies and patterns of adverse childhood events in LGBTQ+ youth’, Child Abuse & Neglect, 107, p.104623.

Friedman, M. S., Marshal, M. P., Guadamuz, T. E., Wei, C., Wong, C. F., Saewyc, E. M. and Stall, R. (2011) ‘A meta-analysis of disparities in childhood sexual abuse, parental physical abuse, and peer victimization among sexual minority and sexual nonminority individuals’, American Journal of Public Health, 101(8), pp.1481-1494.

Gnan, G. H., Rahman, Q., Ussher, G., Baker, D., West, E. and Rimes, K. A. (2019) ‘General and LGBTQ-specific factors associated with mental health and suicide risk among LGBTQ students’, Journal of Youth Studies, 22(10), pp.1393-1408.

Matebeni, Z., Monro, S. and Reddy, V. (eds.) (2018) Queer in Africa: LGBTQI identities, citizenship, and activism. 1st edn. Routledge.

Meyer, I. H. (2003) ‘Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence’, Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), pp.674-697.

Mikulec, E. A. and Miller, P. C. (eds.) (2017) Queering classrooms: personal narratives and educational practice to support LGBTQ youth in schools. North Carolina: IAP.

Miranda-Mendizábal, A., Castellví, P., Parés-Badell, O., Almenara, J., Alonso, I., Blasco, M. J., Cebrià, A., Gabilondo, A., Gili, M., Lagares, C. and Piqueras, J. A. (2017) ‘Sexual orientation and suicidal behaviour in adolescents and young adults: systematic review and meta-analysis’, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 211(2), pp.77-87.

Moore, A. R. (2014) ‘Inclusion and exclusion: a case study of an English class for LGBT learners’, Tesol Quarterly, 50(1), pp.86-108.

Pathania, G. J. (2018) The university as a site of resistance: identity and student politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rose, A., Meyer, D. and Gordon, D. (2014) Universal design for learning: theory and practice. CAST Publishing.

Wang, Y., Feng, Y., Han, M., Duan, Z., Wilson, A., Fish, J., Sun, S. and Chen, R. (2021) ‘Methods of attempted suicide and risk factors in LGBTQ+ youth’, Child Abuse & Neglect, 122, p.105352.




How to Cite

Hancock-Smith, B. . and Hooley, Z. (2023) “Seen and heard: what role can learning development play in LGBTQ+ inclusion?”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1108.

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.