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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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26. It’s Not How Regular Boys Are Supposed to Act: The Nonnormative Sexual Practices of Black Boys in All-Male Public Schools



Chapter 26

It’s Not How Regular Boys Are Supposed to Act

The Nonnormative Sexual Practices of Black Boys in All-Male Public Schools

Freeden Oeur

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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