Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
7. Defining Themselves: LGBQS Youth Online
Theory and Background
LGBQS Youth Online
M. Sue Crowley
This chapter was previously printed in Beyond Progress and Marginalization, LGBTQ Youth in Educational Contexts, edited by Corrine C. Bertram, M. Sue Crowley, & Sean G. Massey (Peter Lang, 2010).
Within the past 5 years, social networking sites have emerged as important virtual contexts within which teens and young adults interact to establish online identities and relationships. As Buckingham (2008) has noted, “A generation is growing up in an era where digital media are part of the taken-for-granted social and cultural fabric of learning, play, and social communication” (p. vii).
Many of today’s youth are digital natives (Prensky, 2006), having always been aware of various forms of technological communication. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) youth are no exception. The Internet has been a consistent presence in their lives. Using digital media of all types, they seek out information on sexuality/attractionality, form trusting friendships, look for dates, and establish relatively independent communities. In contrast to their straight-identified peers for whom public awareness of their sexuality and identity exploration is seldom an issue, social networking sites serve as spaces where LGBTQI youth are relatively free to explore their identities in interaction with similarly inclined age-peers and allies.
The relationship between communication technologies and social identity formation has been a subject of study among scholars in critical youth studies (Best, 2007) and social theory on identity...
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