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Dr. Hilary Copp and Dr. William Koehler

A Comparison of Urban and Rural Middle and High School Teachers’ Attitudes and Observations About LGBT Students

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“[W]e wanted to look at how. . . attitudes about LGBT people differ between teachers at rural middle and high schools compared to those teaching at an urban middle and high school setting. We also wanted to look at how. . . the teacher’s observances of anti-LGBT behaviors among the students and faculty bodies differ between rural and urban settings. And finally, we also wanted to look at [whether] these attitudinal differences correlate with the differences in rates of behaviors, anti-LGBT behaviors that they were observing.”

Dr. Hilary Copp &
Dr. William Koehler

In this episode, our guests Dr. Hilary Copp and Dr. William Koehler discuss their work examining urban and rural middle and high school teachers’ attitudes and observations of their LGBT students. Our guests describe the challenges faced by schools, policymakers, and practitioners as they attempt to help LGBT students navigate their environments with acceptance, safety, and dignity.

Hilary Copp, PhD, has been a member of the Edinboro University social work faculty since 2008. She is currently the director of the undergraduate program and teaches practice, research, human behavior and the social enviornment, and field in both the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work programs. Dr. Copp’s research interests center primarily on LGBTQ individuals and issues, with a specific focus on school climate for LGBTQ students at both the secondary and collegiate levels. Her clinical practice experience includes work with members of the LGBTQ population, outpatient mental health, older adults, and Holocaust survivors. Dr. Copp is a co-founder and facilitator of TransFamily of Erie, a monthly support group for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals and their loved ones.

William Koehler, PhD, LCSW, currently serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He has over ten years of clinical experience, and his areas of expertise include working with children exposed to violence and abuse, treating mental health concerns among LGBT adolescents and adults, and trauma-informed social work practice. He has served as president of the Greater Erie Alliance for Equality from 2015-2017 and now serves on its advisory council. Dr. Koehler’s areas of research center on LGBT community needs, bullying, and anti-LGBT behaviors in schools and universities, and understanding bystander behavior in anti-LGBT incidents of discrimination and violence.

Interviewer: Michael Lynch, LMSW

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