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Harper Keenan

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Harper Keenan,
PhD '18

Supporting transgender educators

Harper Keenan, PhD ’18, did his doctoral research at the GSE on how elementary school teachers can talk about difficult, often violent historical events with their young students—and in 2015, he founded the Trans Educators Network, an organization providing support for transgender and non-binary PK-12 educators. The premise of these two projects is similar, he says. “I’m looking to find ways for adults to be more honest and teach with greater integrity about things that can be quite complex—to unpack that complexity with children, instead of avoiding it.” Growing up in rural Maryland, Keenan was harassed for not conforming to gender expectations. He struggled in school until he found one that was more welcoming. “It completely transformed my experience of school,” he says. “I saw that I could thrive, that it was a place where I could bring my full self. I went into education because I wanted to help create that.” 

August 20, 2018
Photo by Sherry Tesler / Light FX Photography

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