Math Education Discriminates Against Queer, Trans Students, Prof Argues

(Screenshot/YouTube/Vanderbilt University)

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A Vanderbilt professor argued that math is a “white, cisheteropatriarchal space” during a mathematics conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, earlier this month.

Luis Leyva, an assistant professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, delivered a lecture titled “Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice” on Jan. 4 as part of the Joint Mathematics Meetings, according to the website. Leyva argued that the mathematics field is predominantly white and heterosexual and limits opportunities for queer and trans students. (RELATED: University System Weighs Gutting Math Standards After Students Keep Failing Algebra)

The lecture was given in two parts. Leyva first discussed his research conducted by examining the educational experiences of 39 undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields who identified as queer or trans, and then he used his research to explain how the mathematics field operates as “a white, cisheteropatriarchal space that limits learning opportunities affirming of queer of color identities and experiences.”

His study “depict[ed] how Black, Latin*, and Asian QT students’ narratives of experience reflect forms of intersectionality, or instances of oppression and resistance at intersecting systems of white supremacy and cisheteropatriarchy (or white cisheteropatriarchy),” according to the abstract. He further used his analytical framework about how STEM education serves as a “white, cisheteropatriarchal space” to show show “intersectional oppression” impacts queer or trans students of color through ideological, institutional and relational influences.

Leyva also addressed “coping strategies among QT students of color navigating white cisheteropatriarchy in STEM for protecting their academic success and intersectional identities,” the abstract read. His lecture concluded by laying out a “re-imagined” mathematic education which increases support for queer or trans students of color.

“The Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) are a partnership of 15 math organizations. Each partner provides presentations, panels, minicourses or other programming to the gathering,” Scott Turner, director of communications at the American Mathematical Society, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Each partner provides presentations, panels, minicourses or other programming to the gathering.”

He said that the lecture was sponsored by Spectra, The Association for LGBT Mathematicians, which was one of the partners.

“The American Mathematical Society is committed to promoting and facilitating equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the mathematical sciences,” its statement on equity, diversity and inclusion, which was shared with the DNCF, reads. “For its own long-term prosperity as well as that of the public at large, our discipline must connect with and appropriately incorporate all sectors of society.”

Leyva and Vanderbilt University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

This article has been updated with comment from the American Mathematical Society.

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