Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Shaireen Rasheed, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer Carne, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Efleda Tolentino, Ph.D.


Multiculturalism and inclusiveness are not new concepts in educational curricula. The question of what falls under that umbrella was already being brought up when earning my Master’s degree at Hofstra University twenty-three years ago. While attending a university workshop about multiculturalism in the classroom, I found the lens was too narrow and calling for expansion. My question was: where does the curriculum represent LGBTQ+ culture? I shared my concern and described a lesson I had designed and taught while student teaching, which focused on Matthew Shepard, tolerance vs. acceptance, and the negative and positive actions that can come out of injustice. The former was also a part of the conversation on multiculturalism and inclusiveness. Later that semester, the professors published my lesson and my bio in the book Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach (Singer, 2003). Even though throughout my educational career I always held a space for queer students and matters, as well as intentionally called people out on their homophobic slurs, it took me 23 years before coming out as a lesbian to my middle school students. Now, with the recent 2021-23 guidance and policies from New York State Education Department concerning “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” in addition to the social climate inside and outside of classrooms, there is an increased awareness for teachers to implement lessons that represent all students. Teachers aim to manage and create an atmosphere where all students feel welcomed and supported. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how the implementation of an equitable and diverse curriculum impacted teachers’ perceptions of student sensitivity in the middle school setting. During this current phase of cultural awareness, sensitivity, and acknowledgment of past and existing biases, it is vital to recognize and understand the impressions teachers are noticing in the areas of student academic, social, and emotional behaviors. The project is a testament to the work that has been done, the work that must continue, and a call to action that needs to happen. The research design utilized in this dissertation was a qualitative narrative multiple case study. Critical descriptive data were collected through the interview process from New York State middle school teachers who instruct in schools where “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are reflected within the school culture and climate. This study surveyed how the teachers assessed whether there was a positive impact on students due to the suggested recent frameworks. Within this structure, I included my voice in the “Epilogue” to express the living nature of the research and connect the literature and theories to real experiences. My personal history as a gay educator, mother, and advisor naturally found its place within the context of this dissertation but I endeavored to place inherent biases aside to objectively analyze the data. I also retold the participants’ interviews as poems and stories to capture their perspectives and organic experiences.