Sara Staley 2023
Assistant Professor • Program Chair of MA+ Secondary Humanities Teacher Licensure • Co-Founder and Co-Director
Teacher Learning, Research & Practice • Humanities Education • A Queer Endeavor

Miramontes Baca Education Building, Room 242
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Sara Staley is an assistant professor in Teacher Learning, Research, and Practice, Program Chair of MA+ Secondary Humanities Teacher Licensure, and Co-Founder and Co-Director of A Queer Endeavor, a nationally recognized center for gender and sexual diversity in education. Her research and community-based work are animated by deep commitments to teacher learning and to safer, more humanizing school cultures for LGBTQ+ youth, families, and staff.

Dr. Staley began her career teaching English language arts at a large public high school in Riverside, California. Provoked by questions about educational opportunity and equity that her time in the classroom inspired, she left teaching in 2008 to pursue graduate study at the University of Colorado Boulder. After earning her doctorate in Literacy Studies, she joined the School of Education faculty as a postdoctoral research associate. In 2014, she and Co-Founder Dr. Bethy Leonardi launched A Queer Endeavor. Through close collaboration with district and school leaders, K-12 teachers, and counselors, she has built long-term university-district partnerships with six school districts in Colorado and facilitated LGBTQ+-focused professional learning for more than 7,000 educators. Building on the strong foundation of those partnerships, her research leverages queer theoretical and pedagogical perspectives to support teachers to learn and enact anti-oppressive and queer-inclusive practices.

Sara has received several awards for her scholarship and community-based work, including the Kalpana Chawla Award and the President’s Diversity Award (both from CU Boulder) and the Alan C. Purves Award (Honorable Mention) (from the National Council of Teachers of English). Her work has appeared in journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Research in the Teaching of English, and Theory into Practice.


PhD Curriculum & Instruction, Literacy Studies, University of Colorado Boulder, 2014

My work in teacher education is fueled by deep respect and admiration for what teachers do to show up for their students each day. In my teaching practice, as in my research, I bring anti-oppressive, queer, and critical theoretical and pedagogical perspectives to bear. In the university courses I teach, I frame teaching for equity and justice as a highly social, intellectual, and emotional endeavor that requires leaning into the discomfort of learning about power, privilege, oppression and unlearning what has counted as normal in the context of schools. I work to create a community that supports students to engage in that vulnerable and complex work and to learn and develop queer-inclusive teaching practices.

Courses taught

EDUC 5001 Framing Equity and Justice in the Humanities Classroom (introductory course in the MA+ Secondary Humanities teacher licensure program)

EDUC 4325/5325 Queering Literacy in Secondary Classrooms (core course in Secondary Humanities teacher licensure program)


Staley, S., & Leonardi, B. (2019). Complicating What we Know: Focusing on Educators’ Processes of Becoming Gender and Sexual Diversity Inclusive. Theory into Practice, 58(1), 29-38.

Staley, S. (2018). On Getting Stuck: Moving Through Stuck Places in and Beyond Gender and Sexual Diversity-Focused Educational Research. Harvard Educational Review, 88(3), 287-307.

Leonardi, B., & Staley, S. (2017). What’s Involved in “The Work”? Understanding Administrators’ Roles in Bringing Trans-Affirming Policies Into Practice. Gender and Education 30(6), 754-773.

Staley, S., & Leonardi, B. (2016). Leaning in to Discomfort: Preparing Preservice Teachers for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Research in the Teaching of English, 51(2), 209-229.