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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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22. Troubling Silences and Taboo Texts: Constructing Safer and More Positive School Climates for Same-Sex-Attracted High School Students in Australia

English in the Australian Curriculum


Chapter 22

Troubling Silences and Taboo Texts

Constructing Safer and More Positive School Climates for Same-Sex-Attracted High School Students in Australia

Jacqueline Ullman & Kelli McGraw

A plethora of current research outlines the typical secondary school environment as hostile or, at the very least, unwelcoming and unfriendly to same-sex-attracted (SSA) and gender-atypical students (Hillier et al., 2010; Kosciw, Greytak, Bartkiewicz, Boesen, & Palmer, 2012; Robinson & Espelage, 2011; Ullman, 2012). This work is representative of an important and long-awaited shift, moving from an ‘at risk’ student discourse, to examining the ways in which the secondary school environment is ‘risky’ for SSA young people. This shift presents an opportunity to examine the ways that language shapes the school environment and (re)produces hierarchies of sexuality and sexual expression.

Rather than focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) policy and related curricular directives currently in play in Australia’s secondary schools, this chapter juxtaposes the findings of research into the school experiences of a small group of SSA young people with an analysis of two contemporary, young-adult novels. The books, The Hunger Games (Collins, 2008), and Tomorrow When the War Began (Marsden, 1993), eligible for study in Australian English classes, are currently popular in schools—as shown through the large availability of related curriculum materials—and have been lauded for their ‘contemporary’ depiction of female heroines. The authors use this framing of the data as a way to problematise current English...

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