Math Education Is Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Says Vanderbilt Professor

Math education is racist, sexist, and homophobic, according to Luis Leyva, an associate professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, according to a report from RedState.

Leyva recently presented a lecture at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest math conference in the world, with the title “Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice.”

The associate professor presented research on the educational experiences of 39 undergraduate “queer and trans” students of color pursuing STEM majors in the United States, attempting to show how their “narratives” demonstrate instances of “oppression.”

“For the first half of the lecture, I present findings from my research about the educational experiences of 39 undergraduate queer and trans* (QT) students of color pursuing STEM majors across historically white and minority-serving universities in the United States,” Leyva said. “Findings depict 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).”

Leyva also tried to show how math education “limits” opportunities for queer students of color and highlighted their “coping strategies.”

He cites “coping strategies among QT students of color navigating white cisheteropatriarchy in STEM for protecting their academic success and intersectional identities.” He said, “During the second half of the lecture, I apply my framework and research findings to argue how undergraduate mathematics education operates as a white, cisheteropatriarchal space that limits learning opportunities affirming of queer of color identities and experiences.”

To combat “oppression” by straight white men, Leyva proposes “re-imagining undergraduate mathematics education with structural disruptions that advance justice for learners marginalized across intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.”

The math professor also suggests “ideological, institutional, and relational forms of disruption that interrogate dominant forms of knowledge production as well as expand access to learning opportunities and departmental support that affirm queer of color identities.”