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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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13. The Bully Curriculum: Gender, Sexualities, and the New Authoritarian Populism in Education

The Limitations of Dominant Anti-Bullying Discourses

Extract

Chapter 13

The Bully Curriculum

Gender, Sexualities, and the New Authoritarian Populism in Education

Dennis Carlson

Suddenly, the popular media, politicians, and educators at all levels have “discovered” bullying in schools and on college campuses, a discovery that is related to a reported epidemic of bullying in U.S. public schools affecting millions of young people on a daily basis (Wallace, 2011). The reasons for this epidemic of bullying are complex, but a number of interrelated factors seem to be involved. First, more cases of bullying are being reported by victims, their parents, and by witnesses. This is related to the fact that as more LGBTQ youth are “out” in their schools, they are more likely to stand up for their rights, and are more visible targets of bullying. At the same time, many young people—no matter what their sexual identity may be—are resisting normative constructions of gender and what it means to act masculine or feminine, and bullying represents an attempt to police gender norms that are being destabilized. As various Others in American society—those historically marginalized, disempowered, and oppressed because of class, race, gender, sexual and other identities and differences—have begun to speak back to power, the rise in incidents of bullying may be understood as a reactive response, a mechanism for putting these Others “back in their places” and reestablishing the normative culture.

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