Tonya Callaghan

Associate Professor

PhD - Education (Curriculum Studies) and Women and Gender Studies

University of Toronto

Master of Education in Educational Policy Studies (Theoretical, Cultural, and International Studies)

University of Alberta

Bachelor of Education in Secondary English with a Minor in Educational Technologies

University of Calgary

Bachelor of Arts in English with a Double Minor in French Literature and Art History

University of Calgary

Contact information

Web presence


Research and Scholarly Activity

Research areas

  • Anti-oppression education
  • Catholic education
  • Comparative and international education
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Curriculum theory and design
  • Diversity
  • Educational reform and policy
  • Gender studies
  • Human rights
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer studies
  • Qualitative research
  • Social justice and equity in education
  • Sociology of education
  • Teacher education
  • Transformative education
  • Youth activism
  • Youth studies


When a promising drama student in the Catholic high school where Dr. Callaghan was teaching died by 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 and gender minority groups from religiously-inspired heterosexist oppression. Dr. Callaghan specializes in critical social justice theories, anti-oppression education, and anti-homophobia education. She employs qualitative research methodologies to conduct her research projects.

Current Projects: 

The Catholic Closet: An International Comparative Study of Homophobia and Transphobia 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.  

Funding source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities

Member of an interdisciplinary committee comprised of faculty members from the Werklund School of Education and the Faculty of Social Work who work collaboratively to design and implement an MEd Interdisciplinary degree called “Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities.” Lana Wells, the Brenda Strafford Chair for the Prevention of Domestic Violence with the Faculty of Social Work, conceived of this interdisciplinary project and the two Deans of the respective faculties invited Dr. Callaghan to contribute to it.

Funding source: The donor prefers to remain anonymous

The Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey

Co-Investigator on The Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey, which is part of a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) grant awarded to Principal Investigator Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc (PhD, RN, FSAHM, FCAHS), Professor with the University of British Columbia School of Nursing. The full CIHR-funded ($2M) national, five-year, multi-university study is called “Reducing Stigma, Promoting Resilience: Population Health Interventions for LGBTQ youth.” This grant is notable in that it is CIHR’s single largest investment aimed at improving health and school outcomes for sexual and gender minority youth.

Funding source: Canadian Institutes for Health Research

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Callaghan served as a facilitator with support groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto. As a member of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, Dr. Callaghan provided input on professional development workshops designed to build safe and caring classrooms, schools, and communities. She serves as an Ambassador for the Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education (CASWE) at the UCalgary Werklund School of Education, as a member of the Diversity and Equity Network (UCalgary Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure), and as a Member-at-Large for the Alberta and Calgary Gay/Straight Alliance Networks. She also serves as a peer-reviewer for several scholarly journals, and as an adjudicator for Social Sciences and Humaniities Research Council grants. Dr. Callaghan has served The University of Calgary as a Senator


Prior to joining the Werklund School of Education, Dr. Callaghan enjoyed a varied teaching career at the secondary level with over ten years of experience in national, international, rural, urban, Catholic and non-Catholic environments. She 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. The recipient of two University of Calgary teaching awards for Curriculum Development, Dr. Callaghan was invited to join the Teaching Academy with the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. 


  • Callaghan, T. D. (2019, January 16). Homophobia in the hallways: LGBTQ people at risk in Catholic schools. The Conversation. Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2018). Homophobia in the hallways: Heterosexism and transphobia in Canadian Catholic schools. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.
  • Herriot, L., & Callaghan, T. D. (2018, March 13). Disrupting the trans-versus-Catholic dichotomy: An example from a Canadian elementary school policy. International Journal of Transgenderism, 19(2), 170-183. doi: 10.1080/15532739.2017.1412377
  • Lorenzetti, L., Wells, L., Logie, C. H., & Callaghan, T. D. (2017, December). Understanding and preventing domestic violence in the lives of gender and sexually diverse persons. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 26(3), 175-185. doi: 10.3138/cjhs.2016-0007
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2016, July 5). Young, queer, Catholic: Youth resistance to homophobia in Catholic schools. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(3), 270-287. doi: 10.1080/19361653.2016.1185758
  • Callaghan, T. D. & Mizzi, R. C. (2015, November 9). Educational administration and queer educators: Building relationships of inclusion and diversity. The Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 173. Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2015, November 9). Doctrinal disciplining of queer educators in Canadian Catholic schools. The Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 173. Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D., & Mayr, S. R. V. (2015, September). A matter of acceptance: Why gay-straight alliances are essential. Alberta Views Magazine: New Perspectives for Engaged Citizens, 38-41. Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2014, December 31). Law and disorder: Ontario Catholic bishops’ opposition to gay-straight alliances. Paideusis: Journal of the Canadian Philosophy of Education Society, 22(1), 28-37. Retrieved from
  • Lorenzetti, L., Wells, L., Callaghan, T., & Logie, C. (2014, August). Preventing domestic violence in LGBT communities: Understanding how discrimination, stigma, and social exclusion are barriers to healthy relationships (Issue Brief No. 3). Retrieved from University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work, special Brenda Strafford Foundation project called Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence website:
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2014). My real gay agenda: Exposing the holy homophobia of Catholic schools. In G. Walton (Ed.), The gay agenda: Claiming space, identity, and justice, (pp. 223-238).  New York, NY: Peter Lang.
  • Lund, D. E., & Callaghan, T. D. (2012). Homophobia. In J. A. Banks (Ed.), Sage encyclopedia of diversity in education, (pp. 1093-1096). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2009, July 31). The policy polka and the curriculum cotillion: How Catholic schools dance away from their obligations regarding sexual diversity. Canadian Journal of New Scholars in Education, 2(1). Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2007). Acting OUT: Using Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed techniques to dramatize homophobic incidents in Catholic schools. In I. Killoran & K. Pendleton Jimenez (Eds.), Unleashing the unpopular: Talking about sexual orientation and gender diversity in education, (pp. 129-139). Olney, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2007, December 31). Contra/Diction: How Catholic doublespeak in Canadian Catholic secondary schools furthers homophobia. Canadian Online Journal of Queer Studies in Education3(1). Retrieved from
  • Callaghan, T. D. (2007). That’s so gay: Homophobia in Canadian Catholic schools. Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.


  • Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards to Scholarly Publications, 2018
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant, 2017
  • The University of Calgary Curriculum Development Award, March 2017
  • International Research Seed Grant, December 2016
  • Research Fellowship Outbound Grant, December 2016
  • Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Award for Best Essay (nomination) “A Matter of Acceptance” essay published in Alberta Views, September 2015
  • Werklund School of Education Leadership in Education Award, July 2015
  • The University Research Grants Committee Travel Grant, March 2015
  • The University of Calgary Curriculum Development Award, March 2015
  • The University Research Grants Committee Seed Grant, January 2015
  • The University of Calgary Vice President of Research Starter Grant, January 2014
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA) Dissertation of the Year Award, Queer Studies Special Interest Group
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Travel Award, Institute of Gender and Health and Institute of Community Support
  • 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)