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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader

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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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Introduction

On Language

Extract



Dennis Carlson & Elizabeth J. Meyer

This volume is about the education of gender and sexualities, which is to say that it explores how gender and sexuality identities and differences become 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, White–person of color), and to valorize and privilege one normalized identity within each binary (man, straight, White) and simultaneously stigmatize and marginalize the “other” identity (woman, gay, person of color). 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 hidden curriculum of schooling. At the same time, the postmodern times in which we live are characterized by a proliferation 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. The very language we use to talk about gender and sexuality identities is changing rapidly in the process. The label, LGBT (lesbian, gay male, bisexual, and transgender)...

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