Expert: Addressing gender issues in schools starts with giving students the right to disagree

Western Sydney University is bringing to Australia an internationally renowned expert in gender identity, to speak to academics and pre-service teachers about ways that schools can implement sensitive, inclusive approaches to gender.

sj Miller is Deputy Director for the Center for Research on Equity in Teacher Education, within New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.

Dr Miller has actively commented on the impact of bullying on young people in the LBGTIQ community – in particular, transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

On Monday 18 December 2017, Dr Miller will appear as a keynote speaker and panellist at a Centre for Educational Research and the School of Education hosted event, at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South campus.

At the event, Dr Miller will deliver the address ‘Trans*+ing Classrooms and Schools: The Pedagogy of Refusal as Mediator for Learning under a “Trump” Regime’ – which will explore the challenges currently facing transgender youth in the United States.

Following the keynote address, Dr Miller will join a panel of Western Sydney University academics and community group representatives – to discuss how this globally relevant topic translates in the Australian context.

Dr Miller says the event is an opportunity for academics, students and professionals engaged with youth, to become more aware of the complex issues that young people face every day in schools.

“We are seeing globally a critical mass of concern – a moral panic – surrounding the treatment of gender identity issues in schools. In addressing these concerns, there is a need to increase awareness and understanding, and reposition thinking on these issues,” says Dr Miller.

Dr Miller will explain the concept of the ‘Pedagogy of Refusal’ – which pertains to the way that teaching can be reconceptualised, to accept alternate viewpoints and encourage students to be free and independent thinkers.

“Traditionally in educational settings, information is presented rigidly as fact. Anyone whose views differ from the mainstream is seen as problematic, and there is a culture in which teachers can be offended if they are disagreed with,” says Dr Miller.

“One way that schools can be more inclusive, is to adopt a culture where alternate viewpoints are welcome and critical thinking is encouraged. When kids push back, and indicate that their views and feelings do not sit within the societal ‘norm’ – this kind of expression needs to be welcomed and valued.

“Essentially, what we are talking about is creating an empowered and supported student body – with teachers in positions of leadership who encourage students to form their own opinions, and have the opportunity to refuse established belief systems.”

sj Miller is available for media interview. To register interest, contact

WHAT: sj Miller Address
WHEN: 3:30pm, 18 December 2017
WHERE: Building EA, Western Sydney University Parramatta South campus, corner of Victoria Road and James Ruse Drive, Rydalmere
RSVP is essential. Please register your attendance at:


14 December 2017

Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer.