University of Calgary

Tonya Callaghan

  • Assistant Professor

Currently Teaching


Dr. Callaghan was born in Prince Edward Island and raised in Calgary. She has enjoyed a varied teaching career with over ten years of experience in national, international, rural, urban, Catholic and non-Catholic environments. Dr. Callaghan completed a joint doctoral degree in two graduate programs at The University of Toronto: 1) The Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development Program in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE/UT), and 2) The Graduate Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies with the Women and Gender Studies Institute in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Research & Scholarly Activity

When a promising drama student in the Catholic high school where Dr. Callaghan was teaching committed suicide in 2004 after suffering several months of homophobic bullying due to his sexual orientation, she decided to take action regarding the Catholic school system’s sanctioned and institutionalized homophobia by engaging in research about it. The overarching goal of Dr. Callaghan’s research agenda is to integrate theory and practice so that educational stakeholders become motivated to free members of sexual minority groups from religiously-inspired heterosexist oppression. Dr. Callaghan’s area of specialization is anti-oppressive qualitative research methodologies in the field of anti-homophobia education.

Current Projects:

The Catholic Closet: A Comparative Study of Resistance to Homophobia in Catholic Schools

Dr. Callaghan’s current study is a comparative cross-case analysis of Catholic school systems in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom vis-à-vis sexual minority groups. This study broadens the parameters of Dr. Callaghan’s research agenda by extending beyond Canada’s borders into a global discourse of resistance to heterosexist oppression. It aims to uncover the causes and effects of clashes between Catholic canon law and the common laws of the aforementioned nations regarding sexual minorities – clashes which are increasingly being played out in Catholic schools.


PhD in Education and Women and Gender Studies
University of Toronto

Master of Education
University of Alberta

Bachelor of Education
University of Calgary

Bachelor of Arts in English
University of Calgary

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Callaghan has served as a facilitator with support groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto. Since its inception, She has volunteered for Camp FYrefly, a summer camp for LGBTQ youth. As a member of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, Dr. Callaghan has provided input on professional development workshops designed to build safe and caring classrooms, schools, and communities. Dr. Callaghan currently serves as an Ambassador for the Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE) at the University of Calgary Faculty of Education.


Callaghan, T. D. (2007). That’s so gay: Homophobia in Canadian Catholic schools. Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.

Callaghan, T. D. (in press). The real gay agenda: Exposing the holy homophobia of Canadian Catholic schools. In G. Walton (Ed.), The gay agenda: Claiming space, identity, and justice. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Callaghan, T. D. (2012). Holy homophobia: Doctrinal disciplining of non-heterosexuals in Canadian Catholic schools (Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto, Canada). Retrievable from

Lund, D. E., & Callaghan, T. D. (2012). Homophobia. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), Sage encyclopedia of diversity in education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Callaghan, T. D. (2010). David versus. Goliath: Addressing contradictory Catholic doctrine head on [Review of the book Creating safe environments for LGBT students: A Catholic schools perspective]. Journal of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth, 7(1), 85-90.

Callaghan, T. D. (2009). The historical, philosophical and sociological foundations that contribute to the institutionalization of homophobia in Canadian Catholic schools. In J. Nahachewsky & I. Johnston (Eds.), Beyond presentism: Re-imagining the historical, personal, and social places of curriculum, (pp. 61-72). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.


  • The Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal
  • The Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE) 2012 Doctoral Award for Outstanding Dissertation
  • Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2011-2013 (Honorary)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2011-2013
  • Scholarship Recognition Award for the 2010/2011 Academic Year — Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto
  • Keith. A. McLeod Scholarship for Human Rights, Sept. 2010 — Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto
  • Academic Excellence Award for the 2006 through to the 2011 Academic Years — Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral), Sept. 2009 to Sept. 2010 — Provincial Government of Ontario
  • Canada Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral), Sept. 2006 to Sept. 2009 — Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Media Work

  • Houston, A. (2012, June 5). Catholic doctrine bullies queer youth: expert. FEATURE: Study on homophobia in Catholic schools wins Governor General's Academic Gold Medal. Xtra! Canada's Gay and Lesbian News. Available online at:
  • Greenberg, L. (2007, November 16). Invited to participate in an hour-long interview with Lee Greenberg, a reporter with The Ottawa Citizen, on the topic of human rights violations occurring in Canadian Catholic schools.
  • Gulli, C. (2007, June 13). Invited to participate in an hour-long interview with Cathy Gulli, the Assistant Editor of Maclean’s Magazine, on the topic of anti-homophobia education and religious schools in Canada.
  • Martin, D. (2006, April 24). Tonya Callaghan investigates homophobia in Catholic schools. A research profile conducted as part of “Research Makes Sense for Students” an initiative of the Vice-President (Research), the Vice-President (Academic), and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Alberta. Available online at:
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