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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader

Series:

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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17. Safety in Unity: One School’s Story of Identity and Community

Introduction

Extract

Chapter 17

Safety in Unity

One School’s Story of Identity and Community

Mel B. Freitag

Queer-positive schools are on the rise. Jeltova and Fish (2005) indicated that the main reason for separation is for assisting those queer students who have been bullied or harassed in traditional schools. Even with organizational and political support, this violence and harassment has not significantly decreased. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Kosciw, Greytak, and Diaz (2009), nine out of ten self-identified LGBT students say they have experienced bullying or harassment, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt unsafe in school, and one in five reported being physically assaulted. They indicate that the main reason for separation looked at the regional characteristics of queer youth, and confirmed that in specific regions like the Midwest and South, queer teens are “more likely to hear homophobic language in school and experience some sort of harassment” (p. 977). These statistics, however, even when looking at regional harassment, are, sadly, not new. Many queer students are emotionally impoverished in their schools; their physical and emotional safety is still not being provided for effectively.

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