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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader


Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson

This volume is about the education of gender and sexualities, which is to say it explores how gender and sexuality identities and differences get constructed through the process of education and «schooling». Wittingly or not, educational institutions and educators play an important role in «normalizing» gender and sexuality differences by disciplining, regulating, and producing differences in ways that are «intelligible» within the dominant or hegemonic culture. To make gender and sexuality identities and differences intelligible through education is to understand them through the logic of separable binary oppositions (man-woman, straight-gay), and to valorize and privilege one normalized identity within each binary (man, straight) and simultaneously stigmatize and marginalize the «other» identity (woman, gay). Educational institutions have been set up to normalize the construction of gender and sexual identities in these ways, and this is both the overt and the «hidden» curriculum of schooling. At the same time, the «postmodern» times in which we live are characterized by a proliferating of differences so that the binary oppositional borders that have been maintained and policed through schooling, and that are central to maintaining highly inequitable power relations and rigid gender roles, are being challenged, resisted, and in other ways profoundly destabilized by young people today.
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6. LGBT Families and Southern Schools: Thinking About People, Place, and Education

Introduction: “A Little Bit Gay”—The Queer State of Families in the South


Chapter 6

LGBT Families and Southern Schools

Thinking About People, Place, and Education1

Reta Ugena Whitlock

For many Americans, the standard now against which all things Southern are measured is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a new hit series about a rural, working-class family in a small Georgia town on The Learning Channel (TLC). First, my non-Southern friends—I do have a few—assume that I watch the show, which I do not. Next, they assume I can verify the oddities of poor, rural Southerners portrayed on the program, which I might could, as we sometimes say, if concocting spaghetti sauce (“sketti”) from ketchup and two cups of Country Crock brand margarine (road kill as the protein ingredient is optional) in the microwave, for example, were representative of poor Southerners I know. We go to the Dollar General and buy Hunt’s sauce in a can for ninety-eight cents, which is cheaper than either Country Crock or ketchup. Maybe I do not watch the show because it hits too close to home; what I do know for certain is that it is the most blatant mocking of poor rural White people I have seen in quite a while in a world that feels quite free to blatantly mock poor rural White people.2 No wonder it is a hit.

I first encountered Honey Boo Boo, aka Alana Thompson, as a pageant contestant in a show I will claim as a guilty pleasure,...

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