Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
26. It’s Not How Regular Boys Are Supposed to Act: The Nonnormative Sexual Practices of Black Boys in All-Male Public Schools
It’s Not How Regular Boys Are Supposed to Act
The Nonnormative Sexual Practices of Black Boys in All-Male Public Schools
The number of single-sex public schools in the Unites States has risen sharply in the past decade (Fergus & Noguera, 2010).1 This unique schooling option has been particularly attractive to school reformers who seek ways of addressing the academic and social challenges facing Black boys (Salomone, 2003). Researchers who study boys (Martino, Mills, & Lingard, 2005; McCready, 2009), however, have expressed concern over whether these schools can be inclusive spaces for gender-nonconforming boys. This is a legitimate concern, given the homophobic sentiments that can dominate male homosocial spaces (Bird, 1996; Lyman, 1987). Indeed, by highlighting perceived differences between boys and girls through the act of physical separation, all-male schools may entrench gender stereotypes (Datnow, Hubbard, & Woody, 2001; Woody, 2002).
While the limited research on all-boys public schools has shown high levels of antigay sentiment among boys (Woody, 2001), few studies have examined the experiences of queer and gender-nonconforming students themselves in these learning environments. In this chapter, I draw on eleven months of fieldwork and interviews at an all-male, public high school to examine the experiences of Black boys who identify as gay or bisexual in a typically obsessively heteronormative environment.2 I map a particular configuration of masculinities and sexualities at the school. Insights from feminist theories of intersectionality (Collins, 2000; Crenshaw, 1991) will...
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