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Doctoral Student Harley Locklear is Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Through Scholarship and Programming in School Counseling

NC State College of Education doctoral student Harley Locklear

As a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Harley Locklear has become hyper-aware of the inequities faced by his people and other minoritized groups regarding opportunity, access and resources since leaving his tribal territory.

Locklear is a first-year doctoral student in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development counseling and counseling education program area of study in the NC State College of Education. His research interests center around the utilization of culturally relevant counseling practices to promote healing, wellness and achievement for Indigenous People, especially within the context of schools.

“Our worldviews and practices have historically been subjugated and reclaiming and reviving these is essential,” Locklear said. 

His mission is to aid future counselors and educators with the skills to be reflective of not only their own biases but also the ways that the structures they operate within promote inequity.

“For me, education is one of the most useful platforms for systematically alleviating said inequities. By promoting DEI in education, we can really shape our future,” he said. “I hope to incorporate multiculturalism and social justice into the very fibers of our field.”

Locklear said as a school counselor, he has had many opportunities to actively engage with students about their identities and experiences. 

“As a queer Indigenous man, just being present with my students and acknowledging my identities has been a game-changer,” he said. “It’s so heartwarming to hear from my kids when they reflect on how seeing themselves reflected in the educators who serve them makes them feel more supported.”

Locklear seeks to create programming that increases cultural awareness and acceptance while also working with his school administration to ensure that the school is engaging in anti-racist practices. 

Currently, Locklear is serving on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee within the North Carolina School Counselor Association to develop a position statement that will be released to aid school counselors in regard to promoting social justice and advocacy. 

“An overwhelming majority of school counselors have voiced that they don’t feel prepared to serve queer youth and it’s my hope that in providing them with easily accessible resources, we can begin to increase their efficacy and to ultimately promote the well-being of queer students across the state,” he said.

He also recently presented at the North Carolina School Counselor Association conference about how school counselors can serve as leaders, advocates and change agents to prompt a queer-inclusive culture on their campuses. Locklear is hoping to turn his presentation into a digital professional development resource that counselors across the state can use.

“There has been a lot of push back from school leaders in rural parts of the state regarding queer issues, and this has taken my attention being that I’m a member of the Indigiqueer community,” Locklear said. 

This story was written by NC State College of Education doctoral student Jayla Moody.