Date of Award


Degree Name

Education Specialist


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Louann Bierlein Palmer, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Brett Geier, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Wayne Stitt, Ph.D.


Bullying, harassment, LGBTQ+, professional development, teacher bias, teacher competency


LGBTQ+ students continually express concerns about safety in school. This population experiences various forms of bullying and harassment from not only their peers, but from their teachers. Teachers are unaware of the unconscious bias and heteronorms they carry into their classroom that alienate these students. Teachers express that they do not have adequate training to feel confident in their competence to intervene in the issues their LGBTQ+ students face. This study examined how teachers’ perceptions of their competency changed after participating in role-playing simulations as part of professional development. Participants included Midwestern middle school teachers who voluntarily participated in role-playing simulation practice activities. Participants shared, via pre and post surveys, their perceptions regarding the effectiveness of this kind of professional development, and whether it has built their confidence to intervene in events relating to the safety of their LGBTQ+ students.

The findings of this study suggest that role-playing different perspectives in different scenarios, built teachers’ confidence in managing bullying or harassment of LGBTQ+ students. Overall, a major theme in all categories was the increased awareness of using gender neutral language. The largest impact that the professional development had was on the likelihood that teachers would engage in conversations not only with LGBTQ+ students who feel bullied or harassed, but also with the offenders themselves. It is the hope of this study that continued teacher education will assist in creating safe environments for all students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access