Archive for the ‘class’ Tag

Update on my creating a class unit   Leave a comment

I just created this storyboard for the first page of the class. Check out how I’m doing

Story_board_Rethinking_gender_sex_and_sexuality 2



Storyboard that. (2015). Retrieved from,



Theory to Practice: How I Constructed A Future Gender And Sexual Orientation Class Unit And Theories   Leave a comment

There are three theories that have guided my direction towards my goals as an educator. The ideology of social reconstruction is viewed as a social lens in curriculum’s through critical study of power and culture. It reveals that there are unhealthy aspects of society in which survival is threatened due to our established methods created by society in which we respond to our social dilemmas. There is an underlying assumption that alternatives are available to prevent society from damaging itself further hence, education is a way to help problem solve society’s dilemmas. As I grow from an adult learner to an educator to a change agent to a scholar, I am responsible for developing learners as change agents who will learn how to participate in constructing a more just society. According to Knowles (1980) & Brookfield (1986), “The optimum role that adult educators fulfill is defined more broadly than the traditional teacher or professor, ranging from leader to facilitator to change agent.” (Knowles, 1980, Brookfield, 1986, cited in Pappas & Jerman, 2004, p. 32). This theory challenges the adult learner to question social assumptions, to reflect upon them, and then create action resulting in social change.

            I identify with this ideology as it gives me direction in my goals and strategies as a way to create a safe space and place for multiple opportunities of carefully guided group discussions that are reflected in my unit plan as Friere (1973) commented:

            Dialogue is (the) fundamental part of the structure of knowledge (which) needs to be opened to other Subjects in the knowledge process. Thus the class is not a class in the traditional sense, but a meeting place where knowledge is sought and not where it is          transmitted. Just because the educator’s task is not dichotomized into two separate moments (one in which he/she knows and another in which s/he speaks about this knowledge), education is a permanent act of cognition (p.149).

My unit will reveal group discourse regarding discrimination, stereotyping, and bias against non-conforming people which is considered a construction of the socialization process and it is the extension of patriarchal ideology (Kaur, 2012, para. n.p.). I would present a videosong presentation of four young men singing about cognitive bias that exist and incorporate a discussion period open to student reactions:

            Furthermore, the transformative learning theory begins with a disorienting dilemma that reveals a conflict between what an adult learner assumed to be the truth and what they have experienced in the past. As we mature it is our experiences that drive adult learners to develop assumptions in the meaning schemes of specific situations and meaning perspectives of broad worldviews. (Brookfield, 1992, para. p. 77). Cranton (1994) explains, “Transformative learning theory leads us to view learning as a process of becoming aware of one’s assumptions and revising these assumptions” (cited in Schroeder, 2005, n. p.). In my opinion, it is the analyzing of our assumptions, knowledge and the world around us that can challenge social oppression and develop transformative adult learners as Boyd (1991) stated, “…making the unconscious conscious, becoming aware of aspects of themselves of which they are not conscious” (cited in Dirkx, 1998, p. 7). Brown (2006) also confirmed how to confront oppression:

            By being actively engaged in a number of transformative learning strategies requiring the examination of ontological and epistemological assumptions, values and beliefs, context and experience, and competing worldviews, future leaders will be better equipped to understand, critically analyze, and grow in their perceived ability to challenge various forms of social oppression including racism, sexism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, ableism, and classism” (p. 705).

            This theory gives me direction in my goals and strategies as it raises consciousness within our society through discourse and analyzing dilemmas resulting in adult learners beginning to develop awareness of structures within their society that may be contributing to inequality and oppression” (Dirkx, 1998, para. p. 3). It is transforming our frame of reference as active learner through critical reflection and examining beliefs, values and assumptions that can revise our assumptions, beliefs, and values in order to problem solve, create social change or justice, or when being involved in a communicative learning environment (Mezirow, 1997, para. p. 7).

            Boyd (1989) claims “…an outcome of transformative learning includes a change in self as an adult learner’s goal is to become an autonomous and a responsible thinker…” (as cited in Schroeder, 2005, n. p) although transitional learning also focuses on the community of adult learners. Mezirow (1997) discussed the self as autonomous, “Autonomy here refers to the understanding, skills, and disposition necessary to become critically reflective of one’s own assumptions and to engage effectively in discourse to validate one’s beliefs through the experiences of others who share universal values” (p. 9). As part of the developmental nature of an adult’s process of change, reflective discourse is necessary as it is the reflection of self as Taylor & Marienau (2002) stated, “…a self that can examine its own biases and assumptions, make and carry out thoughtful commitments, and reach out to others for mutual enhancement.” (n. p.).

            In addition, it is through gender studies in general and the queer theory specifically that gives me direction in my goals and strategies as I focus on fluid reality, sensitivity and holistic methods of understanding, learning and teaching through process and by using a contextual lens when viewing genders, sexual orientation, and why they matter. Pappas & Jerman (2004) remarked:

            Looking at the structural component of the contextual lens means focusing on how relationships of power across race, gender, class, disability, and sexual orientation affect the ability of adult learners who represent these groups to participate actively in learning processes (Caffarella and Merriam, 2000; Cervero, Wilson, and Associates, 2000 Tisdell, 1993,1998; p.25).

            It is based on learning outside the hetero-normative box. In my opinion, this theory offers potential of informing pedagogy in adult learning as I will apply theory to practice. According to Freire (1998), “Thinking about practice means thinking about the theory inherent in it. Thinking about theory means thinking about how it emerges “soaked in well-carried out practice (cited in Grace, 2001, p. 258). This theory has its own complexities as Gamson (2000) noted, “The theory insists that all sexual behaviors, all concepts linking sexual behaviors to sexual identities, and all categories of normative and deviant sexualities are social constructs (cited in Misawa, 2010, p. 30). It is about examining the shifting identities within our society as well as acknowledging these identities. Grace & Hill (2004) described, “The q in queer theory can never be defined in any stable way, since the notion itself rejects an essentialist epistemology that defines sexuality in a bifurcated, either/or way as gay or straight, hetro or homo” (cited in Brookfield, 1992, p. 77). As an educator I must be able to construct a safe learning environment in which inclusion is a priority as factors and assumptions regarding genders and sexual orientation are explored in order for learner’s stories to be shared. I believe this theory is based on listening and understanding to the various identities that exist in our society.

            I identify strongly with this theory as I am pansexual, meaning I follow my heart and not gender when it comes to the affairs of the heart and feel a connection to the LGBTIQQ community. I am not alone as other adult learners and educators are non-conformers to the norms placed in our society. I felt an instant connection with Bettinger, Timmins, & Tisdell’s (2006) description of Tisdell’s queering sexuality as the journey of labeling ones sexuality is seen through a contextual lens, “ In describing living as a heterosexual, and then a lesbian, and then again as a heterosexual, Tisdell rejects the descriptor of bisexual writing, for me my sexual orientation is contextual, and related more to a person and relationship, than with one gender or another” (cited in Brookfield, 1992, p. 74). I believe my unit plan reflects this theory as critical reflection and discourse will be utilized through exploring the history of genders and sexual orientation, the meaning of genders and its social influences, and the impact of pressures on the development and expression of sexual orientation.

            In my opinion, the ideology of social reconstruction should dominate in the current state of U.S. schools. It is based on the concept of the educational system needing to guide and support adult learners in helping them to reflect and act on addressing the social injustices by changing their world. This can take place when knowledge, privilege, and power are focused on and the connection to oppression of the marginalized voices. It is the realization that the systems placed in society appears to be its downfall to of those who are in need the most. The educational system needs to change to benefit the oppressed as Freire believed (2005), “…that reflection and action were inseparable. He thought that reflection without action is merely “verbalism” and action without reflection is only “activism.” In other words, you cannot act without thinking and reflection without action will not change reality. Praxis is at the heart of transforming the world and thus becoming “fully human.” (p. 87).

            The ideology in my view that does dominate in the current state of U.S. schools is transformative learning theory because it has changed the way educators teach their students as adult learners are self-directed, in need of critical discourse, strive to be autonomous, and free from oppression. Freire (1993) commented:

            If students are not able to transform their lived experiences into knowledge and to use the already acquired knowledge as a process to unveil new knowledge, they will never be able to participate rigorously in a dialogue as a process of learning and knowing (p.19). This theory brings to light the importance of critical self-reflection and self-directed learning as Kitchenham (2008) described the connection between Mezirow’s (1978a, 1978b) initial theory and Freire’s (2005) concept to confront oppression within the educational system resulting in a view of perspective transformation in relating to emancipatory process, ” ….a conviction that meaning exists within ourselves rather than in external forms such as books and that personal meanings that we attribute to our experience are acquired and validated through human interaction and communication” and went on to say… In other words, meaning is individualistic and found inside the learner and teacher rather than prescribed by external influences such as written texts and speeches; however, that meaning becomes significant to the learner through critical discourse with others. (p. 113).

            I would endorse applying the queer theory to the teaching strategy of discourse between large and small group adult learners as an effective practice. Students bring an array of epistemological assumptions , beliefs and values into a learning environment and it is through discussions that stories are shared and reflected upon as Freire (1985), stated, “The nature of the dialogue is what forms the basis of critical consciousness” (p. 98). It is this theory that touches each student as questioning arises from deeper issues regarding genders and sexual orientation. Alexander & Gibson (2004) commented:

            Queer theory moves us beyond the multicultural task of accepting and validating identity  and moves us toward the more difficult process of understanding how identity, even the most intimate perceptions of self, arise out of a complex matrix of shifting social power. In this way, we believe queer theory has uses and applications for self-understanding that engage all students as they narrate their identities for us, tell us who they are, and give us-  and themselves-the stories of their lives, past, present, and future (p. 3).

            In conclusion, my involvement in this course has reinforced my orientations toward these theories as they reveal the fact that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel regarding my own ideas, beliefs and values in the field of gender and sexual orientation studies as there are others who in agreement who came before me. I have begun researching free newsletters and magazines to study theories that inform my practice. I will reread certain chapters in text books and refer back to those that went in to detail of assessments, activities and strategies. Being an eternal student I will continue to read selections from journals and books that will help me to be better equipped on my journey as an educator in the field of gender and sexual orientation studies.



Alexander, J. & Gibson, M. (2004). Queer Composition(s): Queer Theory in the Writing

Classroom. Retrieved from,


Boyd, R.D. (1989). Facilitating personal transformation in small groups, Part I. Small Group

Behavior, 20(4), 459-474. In Schroeder, C. M. (2005). Evidence of the Transformational

Dimensions of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through

the Eyes of SoTL Scholars. Retrieved from,

Brookfield, S. D. (1992) Theoretical Frameworks for understand the field. In Kasworm, C. E.,

Rose, A. D. & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (Eds.), Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education

(2010 ed.) (71-81). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Brown, K. M. (2006, December). Leadership for Social Justice and Equity: Evaluating a

Transformative Framework and Andragogy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42

(5), 700-745. Retrieved from,

Dirkx. J. M. (1998).Transformative learning theory in practice of adult education: An overview.

            PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, 7, 1-14. Retrieved from,


Freire, P. (1973). Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum. Retrieved from,

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rev. 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum.

Retrieved from,

Freire, P. (1985). Politics of Education. New York: Bergin and Garvey. Retrieved from,

Grace, A. P. (2001). Using Queer Cultural studies to transgress adult educational space.

Retrieved from,

Kaur, G. (2012). Gender as a social construct gender roles gender bias in educational practice.

Retrieved from


Kitchenham, A. (2008). The Evolution of John Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory.

Journal of Transformative Education, 6 (104), 104-123. Retrieved from,



Mezirow, J. (1997, Summer). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions For

            Adult And Continuing Education, 74, 5-12. Retrieved from,


Misawa, M. (2010). Queer Race Pedagogy for Educators in Higher Education: Dealing with         Power Dynamics and Positionality of

LGBTQ Students of Color. International Journal of     Critical Pedagogy, 3 (1), p. 26-35. Retrieved from,

Pappas, J. P., & Jerman, J. (2004). Developing and Delivering Adult Degree Programs. San

Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

PowerPoint presentation: ESC 6.2: Curriculum Theories and Ideologies. Retrieved from,

Schroeder, C. M. (2005). Evidence of the Transformational Dimensions of the Scholarship of

Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through the Eyes of SoTL Scholars.

Retrieved from,

Taylor, K. & Marienau, C. (2002). Developing Adult Learners: A Model. Retrieved from,



Social Justice   Leave a comment


Social justice reflects in our history of inequalities while revealing where we are today, tomorrow and the future. Social justice is about political, economic, and social rights for gender, sexual orientation, race, and class that has created heated dialogue in research, in classrooms and in everyday life which opens up dialogue concerning power and the disadvantaged. For most adult learners as our world grows, progresses, and changes it can modify values and beliefs as data is collected from numerous resources resulting in critical reflection and social change.

            In my heart I know there are more than two genders in our world and the “binary system” theory has failed and in turn we are seeing an increase in social injustices for groups such as the transgenders, transsexuals, intersexed, and two-spirit. I feel that social justice needs to be in place for all genders, non-conforming sexual oriented individuals, of people in different classes, and races as society still picks and chooses who to privilege and who to place in the “other” category.

            Being a woman I know firsthand the struggles for equality. I have watched one woman literally transition into a man and seen the tables of social justice turn in favor of the man he became. I witnessed this woman who only graduated high school and worked at a casino counting cash. The pay rate was nine dollars and fifty cents an hour. She had been employed by the casino for three years with only one raise and no promotion. She knew her forthcoming transition would cause a reaction at her job and so she spilled the beans at the time when being on testosterone helped in the appearance of being a man. She wore suits and ties and gained confidence on her journey. The company embraced the changes and offered her a promotion as a man and a large increase in pay. Where was the social justice in seeing a woman, suppressing her capabilities, and oppressing her career potential? As new lenses were worn a man was seen and rewarded partly due to his gender while the woman was being penalized because of her gender.

            Companies have the right to create their policies and to enforce them for instance, to question whether to incorporate and value diversity and if so then the workplace culture changes and becomes more open minded and respectful of others regarding applying the principles of what social justice means to gender, sexual orientation, race and class. I have experienced as an assistant controller at a seafood company the injustice of discrimination to men. I had worked at the company for five years and in the accounting department it was only me and the Controller, a male. We were growing rapidly and becoming more international than ever before after five years. I had been chosen to interview applicants to find an assistant to help me in the workload. I interviewed many diverse individuals and narrowed it down to three women and one man. I felt the man was the most qualified for the position. In discussing my decision with my boss I was told to follow the policy of the company and that stated no men were to be hired in the accounting department. He had forgotten that I spent three months writing the company policy with their lawyers. There was nothing in the policy that backed up his personal feelings. Although, I do remember having to put in place a paragraph that went, “If the owner of the company brings in an oozy to work, no-one else can bring in an oozy to work unless they have permission to do so by the owner,” but that is for a different topic.

At that time he was my mentor and after his demand I lost total respect for the man who was implementing discrimination in the workplace. Some workplaces and schools are beginning to incorporate social justice values and beliefs in mission statements, yet we have so much further to go to balance social justice leading to justice for all genders, races, classes, and sexual orientated.

            What is on my mind is how to create a society were social justice means something and to develop a plan for raising awareness. I think of educational values of schools that promote diversity as I would like to create a class based on gender studies in order to create dialogue of what is unfamiliar to most adult learners for instance, feminism or transgenderism while basing it on the acceptance and respect of other people. Merryfield (2006) stated, “The practice of critical and engaged reflection has a dramatic impact in facilitating learning around social justice, and the process is made particularly visible and interactive through the use of threaded discussions” (Guthrie & McCracken, 2010, n.p.).

            It is within the practice of adult education where social justice is confronted in a collective open dialogue within a safe environment incorporating theories of gender, class, race, and sexual orientation resulting in a transformational stage of participation and inclusion. According to Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon (2010), “Scholars have emphasized the dearth of literature on the LGBTTQ issues in education, (Gedro, 2007), the need to challenge the heteronormative (Grace & Wells, 2007), a call for inclusion of LGBTTQ issues in various contexts including the adult education classroom and curriculum (e.g., Misawa, 2005), sexual differences as a learning opportunity (e.g., Gedro et al., 2004), and strategies used to conter heteronormativity (Wells, 2006) and to create more inclusive environments for LGBTTQ individuals (Harley, Nowak, Gassaway, & Savage, 2002) (Johnson-Bailey, Baumgartner & Bowles cited in Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon, 2010, p. 344).

            Furthermore, one of my concerns that I find most troubling is the adverse reaction and negative criticisms, and the anger that people possess. It is important to tread lightly concerning religious beliefs, traditional narratives passed down through generations supporting injustices, and culture factors regarding gender, sexual orientation, class and race. History has proven there is a hierarchy in place for race, class and gender so how do you teach someone who will not listen as your words fall on deaf ears? How do you explain the social injustices of our world if they are part of the problem? We know that to motivate a learner is to teach them what is relevant and meaningful to their lives and I believe this begins with dialogue on social justice and the many different ways it affects them personally. Is it possible the learner is unaware of the injustices built into their own belief system? How can I as an educator break down those types of barriers? Is it possible for the adult learner to realize that nothing is written in stone regarding bias, racism and discrimination? Therefore communally we have the power break down the walls of stone to correct these wrongs and create positive social change. Social justice to me is where a diverse group becomes the place of a collective goal where all voices can be heard including those who were marginalized, stereotyped and disadvantaged where inclusion, participation and respect are what matters first.

            The concepts of social justice are creeping into facets of our lives and affect each one of us directly or indirectly. I am finding comfort in that my beliefs and values are shared and even hopeful that social justice will continue to be on the forefront of people’s minds whether in corporation workplaces, in classroom settings and/or in daily discourse. It is through these systems that the door is open to the awareness of injustices and discriminations in society while giving the opportunity to critically reflect upon solutions in order to create social change.

            I identify with adult education for social justice because as an educator it will be my responsibility to prepare students in how to deal with social injustices and how to teach problem solving methods that lead to social change hence, creating social justice. In my opinion, social justice is part of a progression in which to create change through community based learning as Freire (1993) wrote, “Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming” (p. 84).

In my future work as an educator of gender studies I know that there will be some animosity and even an unwillingness to challenge an adult learner’s perspective rather than confront them with personal beliefs leading to defensive words. I will interject with questions for reflections and begin with how do you think the other student feels after the negative comment was made?

Social justice begins with one person, and so on and so on.


Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rev. 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum.

Retrieved from,

Guthrie , K. L. & McCracken, H. (2010). Teaching and Learning Social Justice through Online

Service-Learning Courses. 11 (3). Retrieved from,

Kasworm, C., Rose, A. & Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing

Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.



Reflection On E. Michelson’s The Politics of Memory   Leave a comment

The author argued that the recognition of prior learning is a radical educational practice in many ways. According to Michelson, “RPL is seen as one of the new education and training policies to address the legacies of underdevelopment and inequitable development” (p 147) as it incorporates knowledge, experience, political, economic, and managerial factors. RPL is associated with knowledge and power, theory and practice, skills and knowledge, education and the training of the adult learner as Michelson noted, “…justice lies in the recognition of individual achievement” (p. 145).

Michelson argued that RPL is conservative through showcasing examples such as, in the workforce in Britain where mine-workers have to follow rigid lines of authority like spying on fellow co-workers (Michelson, 1997, para. p. 151). There are political effects that could be positive or negative relating to specific groups, “…to skilled employment and decision-making authority” (p. 151). Assessments and their language policy would need to be reviewed and transformed because they are not specific enough to RPL as well as being biased and sexist. Another aspect is the limited financial resources of adult learners as Nancy Mills stated, “…that RPL will work well for those who can afford it…” (Michelson, 1997, p.148)

I agree that the system is too conservative. In viewing South Africa there are considerations that must be taken as Michelson commented, “South Africa contains two disparate legacies of ‘prior learning’, the first of which both justified and sustained apartheid and the second of which provided the insurgent skills and knowledge that led to its overthrow? (p. 149). Racial positions, access or the lack of access because of inequality leads to conservatism which neglects the foundation for relations of class, gender, race, and ethnicity.


Michelson, E. (1997). The Politics of Memory. Globalization, Adult Education, and Training: Impacts & Issues. Supplemental Reading.



From the Equality State to a City of Hate: The New History ~ The Laramie Project (Matthew Shepard)   Leave a comment



Thank you for giving me the time to discuss my opinion of “The Laramie Project.” I will explain how this play addresses issues that affect everyone, universally.

            Starting off, I would like to relay a joke I heard from the comedian Ron White. It went something like this:

            I was on the phone with a friend, a major homophobic. The subject of gay men was brought up and Ron asked him, “Do like porno movies?” The guy said hell yeah. Then he asked, “Do you only watch women on women movies?” His friend said, “No, I like to watch a man and a woman make love.” Finally he asked, “So the guy can be small?” His friend replied, “No I want him to have a big, thick…” his friend stopped and thought about what he was saying.

            The main question at hand is, “How is the social construction of sexual identity linked to social construction of race?” Sociologists see race as being socially constructed. Race, as it corresponds to the scientific measures of our society is fixed in a sense, to signify the human species as a whole. Consequently, if you think about it, there is only one race, in my opinion, which is…Human. But, in defining race some individuals attach the biological meaning whereas, others view it as a socially constructed perception.

            In the play, Mathew is described by Doc O’Connor and Jon Peacock as being a little guy and mousey, “It’s a little guy, about five-two, soakin’ wet, I betcha ninety-seven pounds tops…To the point of being somewhat mousy I’d almost say.” (p.18, 20).  Symbolic interactions had been strategically placed, without the intention of the town’s people. Tyson stated, “…characteristics that heterosexist culture stereotypically associates with gay men or lesbians, such as might be evident, for example, in the appearance and behavior of “feminine” male characters or “masculine” female characters.” (p. 340).Shannonremarked, “Shit, he had better clothes than I did. Mathew was a little rich bitch” (p.60).  This character had internalized racism (he being a gay man and her being a straight woman) and classified him as a “bad girl.” Being associated with a woman, and not accepting his patriarchal gender role in turn, he had become the “monster.” (Tyson, 2006, p.89). What a sad commentary that he had been categorized as the “other” just as women are seen in today’s society. Regardless of societies views and oppression, Matthew became involved in the gay rights movement and this was to be his in group as Romaine Patterson commented, “And he told me that he had joined the gay and lesbian group on campus, and he said he was enjoying it, you know, he was getting ready for Pride Week and whatnot.” (p.20).

            The social construction of sexual identity is represented primarily by symbolic interactionists, a process of describing one’s social location within a changingsocial context. Matthew, a man (anonymous) who had been alone in a bar having a beer as described by Phil Labrie, “The fact that he was at the bar alone without any friends made him that much more vulnerable.” (p.31). As time went on, the social location within the different cultural contexts had changed. When he walked out of the bar, his sexual identity and self image was apparent, a homosexual male.  He was not born homosexual or heterosexual rather, he learned through channeled experiences these sexual orientations and this is where he acquired his sexual identity.

             Smedley & Smedley (2005) stated, “History is significant because it demonstrates that race is a fairly recent construct, one that emerged well after population groups from different continents came into contact with one another.” This social construction of race is defined as physical features such as eyes (green, blue, brown), skin color (black light/dark, white, yellow) and hair (brown, red, blonde) have been proven to be associated with the components of the location of environment. These traits were not only used to identify one race from another, but also as a determining factor to establish racial superiority. As time went on, the meaning of race began to change. As “races” began melding together they created new and unique individuals. Matthew demonstrates this theory, as he successfully integrated himself into the dominant heterosexual patriarchal society, even though his appearance let him “pass” his racial construction by law determined that he was white.

            Sexual identity and race overlap one another through limitations and restrictions. Individuals choose to construct their sexual identity. Foucault wrote the relationship as, “…as a series of crisscrossing boundaries dividing populations into multiple groups differentiated by religion, color, language, culture, and if we note that these boundaries are changeable and permeable (with some boundaries weakening and other boundaries strengthening and with people crossing over from one group to another), then we can begin to move away from primordialist, essentialist understandings of ethnicity and race as biological.” (p.112).

            In conclusion, Tyson stated, “Race intersects with class, sex, sexual orientation, political orientation, and personal history in forming each person’s complex identity.” (p.376). Matthew Shepard sacrificed his life and in doing so strengthened the link between the social construction of sexual identity and the social construction of race…the human race.

            Therefore, transformation will always be in the air, as Rust wrote (1993), “…the construction of these categorizes creates the possibility of change.”

            Some of the town’s people will never begin the process of releasing the programmed stigmatism of homosexuality yet; others have been enlightened by the brutal death of Matthew and have learned from it. These are the ones that will hold close to their hearts, the cliché of “Live and Let Live.”

Weather trend 10/07/1998

18 hours before he was found. They left the bar at 11:30 pm. You do the math.

Time (MDT): Temp.:
12:50 AM 37.9 °F
 1:56 AM 30.4 °F
2:54 AM 30.4 °F
3:55 AM 30.0 °F
4:55 AM 30.9 °F
5:54 AM 30.4 °F
6:50 AM 30.0 °F
7:53 AM 33.1 °F
8:52 AM 38.5 °F
9:50 AM 45.9 °F

Home on the Range: Laramie Wyoming Stats:


1. Geography:Wyoming is about 360 miles long and 280 miles wide. On the north it bordersMontana andUtah while to the south isColorado. On the east, it is bordered bySouth Dakota andNebraska and to the west isIdaho andUtah. Several relatively flat areas betweenWyoming mountain ranges are part of the Intermontane Basins. These areas are characterized by short grasses and lower brush. They are mostly treeless and don’t receive the amounts of rainfall that are found in the mountains. Major basins are the Bighorn andPowderRiver Basins in the north, theWindRiver Basin in centralWyoming and the Green River, Great Divide, andWashakieBasins in the south. Ranges of theRocky Mountains cross the state in a mainly northwest southeast direction. In the southeast are the 10,000 to 12,000 footLaramie and Medicine Bow mountains, which enclose the Shirley andLaramie basins. Nearby is the Sierra Madre range. Ranges in centralWyoming are relatively low; those in the northwest rise to great heights. The Wind River Range contains the state’s highest mountain,Gannett Peak, which is 13,804 feet. The Bighorn Mountains, in the north, and theAbsarokaMountains, in the northwest, rise to more than 13,000 feet and edge theBighornBasin. Most of southwesternWyoming is part of the broadWyomingBasin, which includes a number of smaller basins.

2. Climate: TheGreat Plains and the large western basins have a dry and sunny climate. The mountains, in contrast, have a more humid, colder climate, which becomes more severe with increasing elevation. Summers are fairly warm on the plains and in the basins. July temperatures often reach 80° to 90° F. during the day, but drop sharply at night; they average about 60° to 75° F. throughout most of the state. Freezing temperatures can occur in the mountains throughout the summer months.

Winters are long and cold with occasional blizzards as well as brief periods of mild weather brought by chinook winds. October’s minimum temperature is 29° and the mean is 44°. January temperatures often dip considerably below 0° F., but average 10° to 25° F., depending on location. The coldest weather is in the mountain basins. Most of theGreat Plainsreceives 12 to 16 inches ofprecipitation each year; the western basins, 5 to 10 inches. However, the total amount, both locally and for the state as a whole, is highly variable from year to year. Snowfall is heavy only in the mountains, where it reaches 200 inches a year or more.


3. History: Laramie nicknamed, “Gem City of the Plains” is the third oldest town in Wyoming which is nicknamed, “The Equality State.” Its county seat, Cheyenne is also its capital. The city was named after the trapper, Jacques la Ramie, who built a cabin at the junction of Laramie and Platte Rivers. In 1866 the route for a transcontinental railroad was selected and as it approached the Laramie area, railroad employees and tradesmen began arriving. Knoblich (2001) recited, “In 1868, Wyoming territorial organizers had every reason to expect the rapid growth of urban settlements and economic activities. They believed they were on the cutting edge of the expansion of industrial development, not waiting in a rural backwater for industry to come their way; industry in the form of Union Pacific railroad construction and maintenance, precipitated political organization.” Union Pacific Railroad’s chief surveyor, General Grenville Dodge selected the Laramie town site and its name, Laramie City. The railroad began selling lots in April of that year. On May 9th, the line throughLaramie was completed with the first train arriving the next day. Buildings such as churches, houses, stores and a school were constructed in the city soon after the first train arrived. It was unfortunate that the industrial progression did not come as expected resulting through the train, but as Knoblich (2001) described it, “…hunters and fishers, hikers and campers certainly did.” (p.209)Laramie’s early days typified a Wild West town, complete with rough and rowdy characters. Vigilante justice mitigated and in order t resolve this issue in 1872 the Wyoming Territorial Prison was built nearLaramie. In later years, this prison housed many famous outlaws, including Butch Cassidy. A second accomplishment for this city was having a dream come true, for the Women’s Suffrage Movement. In 1869, According to the website The Aurty, “…the twenty-member Territorial Legislature approved a revolutionary measure stating: That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this Territory, may at every election to be holden under the law thereof, cast her vote. William Bright, the bill’s sponsor, had come to share his wife, Julia’s, belief that suffrage was a basic right of American citizenship.” There was no organized suffrage campaign, and not a single parade, debate or public display. But women kept vigil outside Governor John A. Campbell’s office until he signed the bill into law. Eliza A. “Grandma” Swain of Laramie claimed the honor of castingWyoming’s first female ballot on September 6, 1870. She was first woman to vote legally in theUnited States. After this monumental moment in history, women gained fame as the nation’s first female justices of the peace. The next year Wyoming’s women sat on juries. It is clear that Wyoming women embraced their right to vote and loyally defended it against all threats. The City was incorporated on Dec 12, 1873 seventeen years beforeWyomingbecame a state. In 1924 they are also acclaimed for having the first woman as governor. Today,Laramieis still a small town which sits on the high plains prairie of the Medicine Bow Mountain Range. Its history is close to home in the Wyoming Children’s Museum andNatureCenter, University of Wyoming Geological Museum,AmericanHeritageCenter, University of Wyoming Art Museum, University of Wyoming Anthropology Museum and theLaramie Plains Museum.

           Laramiewill always have a place of infamy as it will be sadly and notoriously known as the town where there had been a brutal torture and slaying of a young gay man who was barely 22 years old. It was considered a hate crime in 1998.


4. Demography: The Economic Expert website (2010) posted these statistics: The racial makeup of the city is 90.81% White, 1.24% African American, 0.89% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 2.89% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. 7.94% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. TheCounty ofLaramie, a middle class town inWyoming, as of 2009, has a population of 86,353 people. In the city ofLaramie, the population is spread out with 17.5% under the age of 18, 31.8% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 25 years. For every 100 females there are 107.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 106.7 males.  The median income for a household in the city is $27,319, and the median income for a family is $43,395. Males have a median income of $30,888 versus $22,009 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,036. 22.6% of the population and 11.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.7% of those under the age of 18 and 8.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

 5. Culture: Laramie is a rural culture.  Knoblich (2001) stated, “Wyoming resident’s original dreams of a diversified economy, including both rural and urban development, were rapidly and consistently accompanied by cultural images of the state as “Western.” For insiders and outsiders alike, these images identified Wyoming the beautiful natural scenery and the world of the range cowboy – in short, as an underdeveloped, even undevelopable place. The cultural forces shaped Wyoming’s state identity.” (p. 201). The cowboy culture is more of a mind set. This individual was kind, tough, and hard working, he stood for morals. The Thomas Ranch Website (2003) was informative in bringing to light the definition, “The morals of the Cowboy are steadfast. He takes on and accomplishes any job given to him, no matter how hard or dangerous this job maybe. He rides and competes for pride, not for the actual belt buckle or title. A Cowboy stands for all that is pure and true. He knows that a job must be done. He can stay all night on a trail of cattle being pushed around the state or country, he could at the same time go twenty miles out of his way to take a sick dog to a vet for a child. They were never looking for trouble, but when it came, they faced it with courage and dignity. The Cowboy is always on the right side (if there is a right side). They defend good people, who cannot defend themselves, against bad people. They have always had high morals. They had good manners and were honest.” A second prevalent culture is the university cultural aspect which has a population of half the size of the city population. The bars inLaramieare frequented byWyomingstudents, andLaramie’s residents visit the campus to attend cultural and athletic events.

 6. Language: There are two main languages that stem from two different types of people, maybe even classes. Individual’s who attend college will perceive the world in more diverse aspect and therefore, have a dissimilar dialect then say a farmer, cowboy, rancher or a non-student. The terminology is different and even body language can be misunderstood.

7. Religious Beliefs: The town is divided. Laramie Church Of Christ/ Saint Laurence O’Toole Catholic Church/WestboroBaptistChurch /Saint Paul’s United Church Of Christ andTrinityEvangelicalLutheranChurch, all have their individual belief systems which seemed to be respected, but what divided the people was the concept of the equality of one man. The Westboro Baptist Church ignited the division and I think the website says it all, “”. From this website I quote, “Since 1955, WestboroBaptistChurchhas taken forth the precious from the vile, and so is as the mouth of God (Jer. 15:19). In 1991, WBC took her ministry to the streets, conducting 41,226 peaceful demonstrations (to date) opposing the fag lifestyle of soul-damning, nation-destroying filth.” The moral beliefs and values of individuals of this town have been questioned and torn apart. As an NBC reporter put it while standing outside aLaramiedrinking joint, “At Wild Willies Cowboy Bar today, patrons said hate is easy to find here.” 

8. Education:TheUniversity ofWyoming, located on the windswept plains ofLaramie is the state’s only four year educational institution. Its estimated 13,000 students have a choice of seven schools: Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Law. The most popular schools are Business and Education, butWyoming also has very strong Geology and Biology programs.Wyoming has a reputation as a big party school, and many of its students are involved in Greek life. Most of the student body comes fromWyomingor from nearbyColorado, and it is a predominantly white, conservative school. About a third of the students live on campus, which makes the school residence halls the most densely populated area in the state. Students frequently complain of the altitude, 7,000 ft. above sea level and the relentless wind. A student should be prepared to face long winters, strong winds, and social restrictions. Some have been known to experience loneliness.           

            Other educational facilities that are available to individuals are Wyoming Technical Institute which is a vocational school offering careers in automotive, diesel, or collision/refinishing andLaramieCountyCommunity Collegewhich enrolls more than 1500 students in credit courses each year and an additional 250 students for non credit programs.


9. Transportation: The City ofLaramie sits clearly at the crossroads of two major interstates and railroads which acts as a transportation corridor for the east/west connections of Interstate 80. The location provides connections for trucks, interstate traffic, and traditional rail freight cars passing through theRocky Mountain region. Union Pacific Railroad mainline operates over 55 freight trains on a daily basis throughLaramie. Interstate 80’s highest point, 8,640 feet, is at the summit of theLaramieRangein thePoleMountainarea. The City ofLaramieis also served by theLaramieRegionalAirport. Flights are offered on a daily basis. The airport offers service for commercial air flights as well as private planes. Greyhound has a bus depot located in the city. 

10. Economy: Agriculture is an essential and fundamental aspect ofLaramie’s economy. It is relative to the natural resource sectors consisting of raising of cattle/calves, hay, hogs, sheep, lamb, wheat and barley. The main exports are feeders, fodders, feed grains, wheat, seeds and animals (dead or alive).

           11. Major Industry:Wyoming is known for its coal and oil industry which has been a part of theWyoming economy since the beginning days of statehood. Although the fields inWyoming, for the most part, are aging, oil production and coal mining remain important to the state in 2009. One of the current issues is that a neighboring city of Laramie, Cheyenne, will effect Laramie’s economy in the future by incorporating a company that will capture over half of the carbon dioxide emitted during the coal refining process. Nearly (2009) wrote, “It plans to pipe the CO2 gas toWyoming oil fields where pumping it underground would serve the dual purpose of keeping it out of the atmosphere while pressurizing the oil reserves to allow more of it to be pumped out. The U.S. Department of Energy is weighing an application from DKRW Advanced Fuels LLC of Houston for a loan to help build the proposed $2.7 billion coal-to-gasoline plant. This would be the first major industrial gasification facility that produces transport fuels — gasoline or diesel — from coal in theUnited States, DKRW chairman Bob Kelly ofHoustonsaid Friday. The plant would process nearly 10,000 tons of low-sulfur coal a day from a mine into 21,000 barrels a day of gasoline. The fuel then would be piped roughly 200 miles southeast to theDenvermarket.”


12. Rural Income: Unprecedented economic growth during the 1990s benefited rural areas. Rural income grew from $16,506 in 1993 to $21,831 in 2000, and the percentage of rural people in poverty fell from 17.1 to 13.4 percent over that period. Welfare policy and the growing economy contributed to declines in food stamps, assistance to needy families, and unemployment. But, the 2001 recession caused rural income growth to slow and poverty and assistance payments to slowly rise.

Today’s ratings range from (lowest) to (highest).Characteristic Compared to Peers (small towns nationwide) Compared to State
Median Family Income
People in Middle Class or Better
People Above Poverty

13. Employment/Unemployment: The Census Bureau reported, “Through the third quarter of 2009, the greaterCheyenne economy has preformed much as expected since the start of the Great Recession (December, 2007). Anticipated declines in local employment and increased rates of unemployment lagged these same national indicators by a little more than 12 months. By the close of the third quarter,Laramie’s unemployment rate had risen to 6.1 percent, up 33 percent from December 2007’s rate of 4.6 percent. The just released unemployment rate for October 2009 was 7.2 percent.” The blue collar occupations in Laramieinclude farming, forestry and fishing; handlers, equipment cleaners, helpers and laborers; machine operators, assemblers and inspectors; precision production, craft and repair; private household services; protective services, transportation and material moving.

 14. Hazards:  One of Wyoming’s natural hazards is earthquakes and there is suspected active faults with surficial expressions under the ground. In 1882, a magnitude of 6.2 to 6.5 intensity occurred between Laramie and Estes Park, Colorado. These occurrences are common in Wyoming. Historically, they have happened in every county over the past 120 years. One earthquake in Colorado caused minor damage in southern Wyoming. Plaster fell and windows broke as far north asLaramie. An aftershock was reported to be almost as strong as the main shock inLaramie and Denver.

            LaramieWyomingat first glance is just a small town in the mid west. But, closer examination reveals underlying mental, physical and environmental limitations.


            After reading the book, I discovered many reasons for this, including financial constraints, the need to recover from failure, and loss, and fatigue and frustration of pursuit itself. As Laramie expanded and Wyoming became a state, the size and status of the population changed as well. I was saddened by the strong split of moral, ethical and religious belief systems held by these people. On the one side, support for the LGBT community as opposed to the traits of the “haters.”

             At last count, I explored 65 web sites as well as reading, “The Laramie Project” play. I have learned that discrimination of individuals have existed from the beginning of time and will arise when least expected in the largest of cities as well as the smallest of American towns. The cliché holds true, “We are everywhere.” Oppressors come in all shapes, sizes and colors and these individuals showed themselves and were heard loudly as their voices screamed sounds of hatred.


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