Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Tiffany Hornsby

Tammy Gilligan

Deborah Kipps-Vaughan


This study addresses the issue of U.S. schools often acting replicating the same racist/discriminatory practices that play out on a national level, resulting in school being an unsafe environment for Black and other REM students. A lack of psychological safety in schools, according to research, can lead to decreased academic achievement and engagement, feelings of stress and anxiety, and a negative school experience. This study proposes that using culturally relevant texts in curriculums can enhance psychological safety for Black students in order to cultivate safe school environments for REM students. Using an analysis of qualitative data from focus group discussions with high school students on feelings of safety and overall student perceptions towards school in the absence and presence of culturally relevant texts, this study aims to show the extent to which diversified classroom texts impact the school experience for Black students. Themes that emerged from focus group data suggested that participants felt a sense of representation, comfortability, and connection in classrooms where culturally relevant texts enhance psychological safety and belongingness. In conclusion, this project discovered a possible link between psychological safety being constructed in the classroom and the use of culturally relevant texts in reading curriculums for Black students. When schools and teachers show how they see and value student populations who have been historically ignored or persecuted, they prove to REM students that they are safe, loved, and valued.



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