Alumna Gives LGBTQ Community a Voice Through Research & Service

Karen Andrus Tollafield started working with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community when she became a Gay-Straight Alliance advisor in 2010 at her public school. Since then, Tollafield retired as a fourth-grade teacher and this summer earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

She defended her dissertation, Writing matters: Understanding the writing practices of five young adults self-identifying on the LGBTQ spectrum, and continues to help give the LGBTQ community a voice through her research and leadership as a board member of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network in Northeast Ohio and as a LGBTQ liaison for the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts.

Her research is distinctive not only because she combined writing studies with a focus on the LGBTQ community, but also because she included a video summarizing each participant’s experience and that of her own in her dissertation. The videos showcased her participants’ experiences with self-expression through personal poetry, journaling, stories, academic articles, drawings, and photography for her qualitative study.

To watch a video highlighting one of her participant’s use of self-expression, go to

POSTED: Monday, October 3, 2016 - 11:59am
UPDATED: Monday, October 3, 2016 - 12:02pm