Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Liliana Herakova

Second Committee Member

Laura N. Rickard

Third Committee Member

Nathan Stormer

Additional Committee Members

Christine Beitl


Why are some conversations considered more difficult in learning spaces than others? What is the potential for educational interventions strengthen our capacities for such challenging conversations and for allyship? Guided by these broad questions, the present thesis focused on LGBTQIA2+ affirming education and sought to specifically test how an intentionally queer online learning experiences impacted the participants’ self-perceived allyship efficacies.

In my thesis, I draw on literature exploring how the “civility, teacher immediacy, or teacher credibility” (Chen & Lawless, 2018, p. 376) of Western education has prevented instructors from bringing topics related to race, gender, immigration, sexuality, and others in the classroom and also how these topics impact different students differently (Scharrón-Del Río, 2018). However, despite the challenges faced by both instructors and students, literature also shows how it is more harmful, especially for students, when these topics are not being taught or explored in the classroom (Scharrón-Del Río, 2018). To address this issue, the current thesis implements Queer Communication Pedagogy (Atay & Pensoneau-Conway, 2020), which is a feminist educational approach, to develop learning materials countering the white cis-hetero dominance of western education. The project offers the LGBTQIA2+ Learning and Affirming Challenge implemented through the Fogler Library at University of Maine.

My interest was to investigate how having an LGBTQIA2+ affirming curriculum impacts allyship towards LGBTQIA2+ population. A survey consisting of demographic questions and an allyship scale (Jones et al., 2014) was used to “assess the skills to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons, knowledge of the LGBT experience, awareness of LGBT oppression, and engagement in action among heterosexual allies to the LGBT community” (Jones et al., 2014, p. 181). Participants completed the survey before and after engaging in the LGBTQIA2+ Learning and Affirming Library Challenge. The data collected from those participants who completed both the surveys allowed us to conduct a paired samples t-test for each question in the allyship measure. The results of this survey along with the existing literature available helped us to understand how an educational intervention such as a curriculum developed using QCP can contribute towards positive differences in improving allyship competencies. Practically, this project provides content which can be incorporated in any academic discipline. In terms of research implications, it highlights how queering education is not an additional burden but something which can positively impact learning, respect, and knowledge production in the classroom and beyond. In addition to the positives, the research also poses the questions as to who benefits from a queer affirming curricula and how, especially since Western academia is dominated by white cis-heteronormativity, both in terms of content and in terms of representation among learners and educator.