Keynote Speaker

We are very excited to announce this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Lee Airton!

What will they discuss?

Ditch the gender box: What (if anything) you should do about ‘gender’ in your graduate research

Description: Canada in 2022 is an international human rights trend setter, with sex, gender identity and gender expression human rights protections legislated in every jurisdiction across the country. K-12 schools, universities and sites of teacher education are currently working to disentangle what this legislation means in policy and practice. In the world of research, funding bodies increasingly expect that applicants demonstrate their understanding of sex and gender to be successful. As graduate students charged with making your mark in this changing context, your own research topic may or may not touch on gender, at all, but it is highly unlikely that gender is altogether absent. In this lecture, Dr. Lee Airton will reflect on different ways in which graduate student researchers can engage gender as an aspect of their thesis or dissertation, asking whether it might be most accurate and most ethical to not collect or include any gender-related information about participants, at all, when the work is shared.

A little About Dr. Airton

Dr. Lee Airton is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 2012, Dr. Airton founded They Is My Pronoun, the first Q+A-based blog about gender-neutral pronoun usage and user support with over 30,000 unique visitors in 2017 alone. In 2016, Dr. Airton founded the No Big Deal Campaign, a national social media initiative that helps people show support for transgender peoples’ right to have their pronouns used. One month ago, Dr. Airton and their research team launched gegi.ca [pronounced gee gee dot c a], the first bilingual self-advocacy resource for K-12 students who are experiencing gender expression and gender identity discrimination at school. In recognition of their advocacy work, Dr. Airton received a 2017 Youth Role Model of the Year Award from the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

Dr. Airton’s first book, Gender – Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say and What to Do in the New Gender Culture offers practical steps for welcoming gender diversity in everyday life, and has been adopted as a key professional development text in teacher education programs, school districts, public sector and private sector organizations. With Dr. Susan Woolley, they recently edited Teaching About Gender Diversity: Teacher-Tested Lesson Plans for K-12 Classrooms (Canadian Scholars Press), the first such anthology to be published.

Dr. Airton’s SSHRC-funded research program on gender diversity, human rights, policy, law, teaching, and learning has received 10 merit-based research grants since 2018 alone. Their research explores how the Ontario K-12 education system is responding to the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression protections in human rights legislation, and how to make the collection of gender-based data in large studies more reflective of how gender is read and negotiated. Dr. Airton also leads an action research project in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, collaborating with staff to remove barriers for transgender and/or gender non-conforming teacher candidates. Dr. Airton is a frequent speaker and media commentator, and has been interviewed over 60 times in nationally and internationally on topics related to gender diversity. Dr. Airton’s scholarly publications have appeared in top-tier research journals such as Teachers College RecordGender and Education, andthe Journal of Education Policy