Danielle Murray

BPS Another Course To College, Brighton MA

Document how Ireland has undergone a radical social change in the way LGBTQ people are viewed, both socially and legally, to understand how a country embraces a community it once persecuted and model those actions to make the school community more affirming, inclusive, and proud.

Where I've Been

  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Galway, Ireland

My Fellowship in Images

On one of my first days in Dublin I went to Outhouse Cafe and Community center. This is a drop in and community center in Dublin that serves LGBTQ people. They have a cafe that earns money for their work, and they host LGBTQ community events.
This is Dublin Castle, and I am standing at the historic site where Ireland gained its' independence and where Same Sex marriage was very announced in Ireland- the first country to win marriage equality in a popular vote!
One of the things I was most interested to learn was how the historical treatment of LGBTQ folks impacts their present situation. Oscar Wilde, one of the most famous LGBTQ individuals from Ireland, features prominently- in a surprising way!
John, a lifelong Dublin resident and LGBTQ History expert, took me on an amazing tour of Dublin where I learned so much about how the struggle for LGBTQ equality was so linked to the struggle for Irish independence. We covered hundreds of years!
I was so lucky to be in Dublin for Pride! 20 years ago pride was cancelled when people were terribly beaten. Now, on the 5th Dublin Pride, the city is COVERED in rainbows. It was so different from Boston (no school groups!), but still so wonderful!
This is a prominent LGBTQ support network in Galway. I had a great meeting with one of their directors- and I learned this name has nothing to do with teaching! It means Lighthouse in Gaelic! They have many groups, events, and supports.

Igniting Personal and Professional Growth

What changed as a result of your fellowship? Why was it vital for you to pursue this particular opportunity/experience? What learning gaps (yours and/or your students’) were/will be filled as a result of your fellowship?

As a result of this fellowship I have been able to look at our practices with LGBTQ youth, and to develop international connections between social service organizations that do this work. I have also been able to learn about the social changes that occurred in Ireland and I've been able to see the way some of the struggles in society have been interconnected. I have a deeper understanding of how the struggle for independence and LGBTQ rights are related.

How do you see your teaching evolving after your fellowship? Your students’ learning?

After this fellowship I will have a much more multidimensional understanding of how struggles for justice are supported by other cultural struggles. I also learned about the historical way that the Irish held viewpoints that seem to be at odds (ex. deeply religious and yet also supportive of LGBTQ people.) These are things that I can share, and I have primary documents, interviews, photos and videos to help teachers think about how to teach these concepts. This also involves SEL competencies

What were some unplanned or unexpected experiences or outcomes of your fellowship?

I expected to see a wide spread support for LGBTQ people, given the laws in place, but what I found was there was absolutely no official support for LGBTQ teens. Any support provided was done school by school, or through social service organizations. The protections in Ireland begin at 18+, whereas in Boston they are strongest in schools. I was also very excited to make some connections with social service agencies, and I look forward to sharing resources and supports.

Impacting Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your students learn differently because of your new knowledge or skills?

Students will benefit from improved practices in regards to supporting LGBTQ students. They will also learn about the multiple struggles for social justice, both present and historic. Currently, Ireland is working to support an increase in refugees as they are adapting for LGBTQ inclusion, and these two movements are really interconnected. Students will use primary documents and resources that bring these realities to their classroom so they can learn about the social evolution in Ireland.

What specific events, projects or deliverables will your students experience related to your fellowship?

Students will engage in a deep dive into some Irish history and look at the LGBTQ involvement in the fight for Irish independence. This will also help to increase visibility around the role LGBTQ people have played in history. They will also look at Oscar Wilde's past and examine how his persecution was linked to a social evolution. Students will also look at how the changes in Ireland have impacted social acceptance, and how they were driven by a social need and by international pressure.

How, specifically, will your fellowship extend beyond your classroom? (e.g. families, school-at-large, afterschool groups, surrounding community, colleagues, etc.)

Not only will I share these lessons and resources with our district, the fellowship will touch upon the work we do as a district to support LGBTQ youth. I am also connecting organizations in Dublin to work we do on a state level. We have forged connections to organizations that want to set up a relationship between our students, so LGBTQ Irish students could visit Boston, and our students could visit Dublin and Galway to learn more about the work we are all doing.

Inspiring the Future

Why was this opportunity transformative for your teaching on a macro-level?

This opportunity gave me a chance to step back from the daily support that I provide to LGBTQ students and to look at a macro level on the way we support kids and their families. Learning about the ways that Irish parents and families are supported when they are struggling to accept their children was very helpful when we think about how to assist families from all backgrounds and beliefs. I also think it was helpful to see how social changes have happened in Ireland and how we make changes.

Why do students benefit from this type of teacher learning?

Students benefit from their teachers' expertise and understanding of any complex social situation, especially a multidimensional situation like the rapid social and legal change in Ireland. Students will receive first hand resources to understand this evolution in Ireland. Most importantly, LGBTQ students will benefit from improved practices to support their development, and they will directly benefit from any connections we can forge with organizations in Ireland too.

How would you describe to a friend or grant funder the fundamental ways in which your fellowship changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

This fellowship made me more reflective and thoughtful about my day to day practices in supporting students. It also provided me with resources and skill development when working with teens and their families. I was able to understand a a complex social evolution while connecting with people and organizations that are doing important work in Ireland. This will improve my practice and will help me make global connections to the work of keeping schools safe for LGBTQ teens.