Auburn, COE host “Bridging the Rainbow Gap” conference

August 10, 2021

"Bridging the Rainbow Gap" Logo of rainbow and bridgeUnder the leadership of Principal Investigator Kamden Strunk of the College of Education, and two former COE professors – Antonio Duran and Ryan Schey – Auburn recently hosted 28 scholars of queer and trans studies in education. The conference was sponsored by the AERA Small Research Conferences Grant Program. Its purpose was to bring together researchers focused on K-12 education and those focused on higher education. Hence the title host “Bridging the Rainbow Gap.”

“The work happening at the K-12 and higher education level are often not in conversation with one another,” Strunk explained. “This leads to gaps in theory, research, and practice. This conference aimed to intentionally center those connections.”

In the two-day meeting, the various scholars shared their own work, thoughts about moving the field forward, and the questions and tensions they notice in queer and trans educational research. Participants also had a series of one-on-one and small group conversations leading to new collaborative relationships.

The work of the conference will result in an edited book project with chapters written by teams of K-12 and higher education researchers focused on bridging the gaps in their areas of research. The participants also anticipate many other collaborations coming out of this event, such as special issues of journals, public-facing scholarship, and future conferences and conference sessions.

“The meeting was the first of this kind and scale, and we believe this project has the potential to be transformational for the field,” Strunk said. “It would be difficult to overestimate the gravity of the meeting, how unusual this kind of gathering is, and how huge it is to have Auburn host this event.”

Supporting this view are comments by some of the scholars in attendance.

“This was a historic and field-defining convening of queer and trans education scholars at Auburn University,” said Dr. Roland Sintos Coloma of Wayne State University.

Dr. Mario Suárez of Utah State University added that it was “an amazing couple of days dreaming of ways to bridge K-12 and higher ed queer and trans studies”

Dr. Summer Melody Pennell of the University of Vermont called it a “joyful, restorative, reinvigorating, and thought provoking space.”

Attendees from across the country included the following:

  • Dr. Mollie Blackburn (Ohio State University)
  • Dr. Reginald Blockett (Grand Valley State University)
  • Dr. Ed Brockenbrough (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Dr. Roland Sintos Coloma (Wayne State University)
  • Dr. Cindy Cruz (University of Arizona)
  • Dr. Kari Dockendorff (Colorado State University)
  • Dr. Antonio Duran (Florida International University)
  • Dr. Jay Garvey (University of Vermont)
  • Dr. Ángel Gonzalez  (San Diego State University)
  • Dr. Jill Hermann-Wilmarth (Western Michigan University)
  • benjamin lee hicks (University of Toronto)
  • Payton Hoover (Auburn University GRA)
  • Hyun Sung Jang (Auburn University GRA)
  • Dr. Cindy Ann Kilgo (Indiana University)
  • Dr. Kevin Kumashiro (Independent)
  • Dr. Jodi Linley (University of Iowa)
  • Dr. A Longoria (Western Washington University)
  • Dr. J.B. Mayo (University of Minnesota)
  • Dr. Summer Melody Pennell (University of Vermont)
  • Dr. Kaity Prieto (Ohio State University)
  • Dr. Kristen Renn (Michigan State University)
  • Dr. Ryan Schey (University of Iowa)
  • Dr. Stephanie Anne Shelton (University of Alabama)
  • Dr. LJ Slovin (University of British Columbia)
  • Dr. Kamden Strunk (Auburn University)
  • Dr. Mario Suárez (Utah State University)
  • Dr. Dan Tillapaugh (California Lutheran University)
  • Jessica Weise (Auburn University GRA)

Group photo of conference attendees