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Dr. Lee Airton

Dr. Lee Airton looks out onto a crowd of some 200 students during a practicum debrief workshop on Monday, Jan. 8.

Ready for uncertainty

Prof. prepares teachers for gender diversity

Growing up best friends with Miss Popular in elementary school, a young Lee Airton learned a defining lesson that would guide their career path as an academic focused on making schools welcoming places for gender and sexual diversity.
Like some beautiful people, Airton’s friend attracted popularity for the wrong reasons. She drew cat-calls in the street. And in the schoolyard, classmates wrongly assumed that her glowing good looks somehow precluded a bright mind. Through the hallways, a nattering gaggle of fair-weather friends whirled about her orbit, followed by the steady gaze of angst-addled adolescent boys, biding their time, screwing up the courage to pursue their pubescent fantasy of landing a trophy girlfriend.
Through it all, Airton remained a loyal confidante, quietly drawing their own conclusions through the spectacle of it all.
“She shared with me all of the different struggles that she faced such a young age,” Airton said during a pre-lecture interview. “I had a sense that navigating gender is actually not easy for many people, and that it actually causes all kinds of harm, difficulty and restriction for many different people.”
From this childhood friendship, grew Airton’s commitment to a gender-diversity project that benefitted everyone.

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Returning adult education to its roots

This book challenges educators and administrators to rethink their practices and consider barriers to education such as tuition, recruitment and recognition for prior learning experience.

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