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Culturally Responsive

What does “Culturally Responsive” mean?

  • The phrase “Culturally Responsive” originated with Geneva Gay’s concept of Culturally Responsive Teaching, or CRT for short.
  • CRT draws on “the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students” (Gay, 2002) to make materials being taught interesting, relatable, and relevant across cultures.
  • CRT addresses inequalities created maintained in countries like Canada and the United States by the fact that teaching is based largely on middle-class European norms (Gay, 2018). In this way, CRT is an anti-racist approach.
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings’ (2005, 2001, 1997) concept of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is closely related to CRT. Readers who are interested in CRT are likely also interested in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.
  • Gay’s work has inspired research that applies the idea of cultural responsiveness to a range of professions and services beyond teaching.

What does “Culturally Responsive” have to do with how universities and colleges respond to sexual violence?

  • The recommendations on this website are drawn from conversations about university sexual assault policies that were held among students from diverse cultural groups at universities in Nova Scotia. Much of what we heard from participants suggested a need for culturally responsive practices in sexual violence prevention and response. Our recommendations encourage and support culturally responsive approaches to sexual violence.
  • Preventing and responding to campus sexual violence involves several areas developed by scholars who promote culturally responsive practices. These include Culturally Responsive Sexuality Education; Culturally Responsive Care; and Culturally Responsive Care for victims/survivors, specifically. Each of these areas are addressed below.

What does Culturally Responsive sexuality education involve?

Research-based recommendations for culturally responsive sexuality education include:

  • “Highlighting the role of colonialism in shaping understandings of sexuality” (Le Grice & Braun, 2018).
  • Including content that draws on participants’ cultural backgrounds, values, and world views (Le Grice & Braun, 2018; Mwaria et al, 2016; Roberts et al., 2020; Szlachta & Champion, 2020).
  • Addressing language barriers and matching literacy levels of learners with accessible materials and interpretive services (Mengesha, Dune, & Perz, 2016; Mwaria, 2016).
  • Paying attention to the “concerns and desires” of communities represented among learners “and seeking to reasonably address them” (Mwaria et al., 2016, p. 788).

What does Culturally Responsive Care involve?

Research-based recommendations for Culturally Responsive Care include:

  • Engaging care providers in cultural training to learn about their clients’ “cultural norms and traditions and religious beliefs (Mengesha, Dune, & Perz, 2016, p. 306).
  • Drawing on clients’ “cultural beliefs and values” when providing care (Robinson-Lane & Booker, 2018, p. 3)
  • Referring clients to sources of support identified as trustworthy by community members or publicizing these supports so community members have the option to access them (Roberts et al., 2020; Singh, 2009).
  • Establishing culturally representative peer supports (Roberts et al., 2020)

What does Culturally Responsive Care for Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence involve?

  • Singh’s (2009) is a rare example of research that explicitly applies CRT principles to culturally responsive care for victims/survivors of sexual violence. Singh’s work, which focuses on South Asian survivors, suggests care providers should draw on knowledge that South Asian survivors may:
    • Have “experiences of sexual abuse and resilience strategies” shaped by culture (p. 371).
    • Have culturally specific concerns and experiences linked to “family and the survivor’s gendered place within their family” (p. 371)
    • “Be more comfortable disclosing with or to a family member” (p. 371)
  • Singh’s findings resonate with the voices of South Asian participants in our study.
  • Her work exemplifies the broader need for Culturally Responsive Care for people who have experienced sexual violence.
  • The concerns and experiences of all victims/survivors are likely to be shaped in some ways by their cultural backgrounds.
  • Exploring this website can help familiarize users with the concerns and experiences students from diverse cultures who participated in our study expressed about sexual violence and university SV/SA policies.