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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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16. Heteronormative Harassment: Queer Bullying and Gender-Non-Conforming Students

Possible Origins of Queer Bullying


Chapter 16

Heteronormative Harassment

Queer Bullying and Gender-Nonconforming Students

sj Miller & James R. Gilligan

Jamie Nabozny, a gay high school student, was subjected to relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow classmates at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Classmates urinated on him, feigned raping him, and—when they discovered him alone—kicked him in the stomach so brutally that he required surgery. When school authorities were notified of the taunts and injuries, school officials said that Nabozny should expect it by virtue of simply being homosexual. Nabozny internalized his suffering, and attempted suicide many times, dropped out of school, and ultimately ran away. His family later sued the school, but a trial court dismissed the lawsuit.

In 1996, Lambda Legal (n.d.), an LGBT legal-advocacy group, took the case, Nabozny v. Podlesny, to a federal appeals court, which—for the first time in U.S. history—ruled that public schools can be held accountable for ignoring, tolerating, and/or failing to prevent or stop the abuse of homosexuals. While the case marked the first time the Equal Protection Clause was applied to support an openly gay student, the ruling was decided on facts related to sex stereotyping and differential treatment of male and female students (the mock rape in particular) and not protections based on sexual orientation. When the case went back to trial, a jury found the school officials liable for the harm they caused to Nabozny. The...

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