Progress and Backlash in the Wake of Obergefell: Reaching Conservative Southern Teachers Through the Power of Literature

Scott A. Beck
Dina Walker-Devose PhD, Georgia Southern University
Laura Agnich, Georgia Southern University
Caren Town, Georgia Southern University
Trina Smith, Georgia Southern University


This paper uses a mixed narrative and quantitative analysis to examine how a graduate class of predominantly politically and religiously conservative (self-identified), elementary teachers in the South made discursive sense of gender and sexually diverse (GSD) young adult and children's literature in the context of concurrent, relevant national events, especially the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. Using narrative data, supplemented with quantitative pre- and postsurveys, this study provides fruitful insights into conservative professionals' attitudes and practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and adults. Our findings suggest effective ways to help prepare conservative professionals to sensitively address GSD issues in elementary school settings.