Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
13. The Bully Curriculum: Gender, Sexualities, and the New Authoritarian Populism in Education
The Limitations of Dominant Anti-Bullying Discourses
The Bully Curriculum
Gender, Sexualities, and the New Authoritarian Populism in Education
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.