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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader

Series:

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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7. Defining Themselves: LGBQS Youth Online

Theory and Background

Extract

Chapter 7

Defining Themselves

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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