Queer pedagogy is an approach to educational praxis and curricula emerging in the late 20th century, drawing from the theoretical traditions of poststructuralism, queer theory, and critical pedagogy. The ideas put forth by key figures in queer theory, including principally Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, were adopted in the early 1990s by to posit an approach to education that seeks to challenge heteronormative structures and assumptions in K–12 and higher education curricula, pedagogy, and policy.
Queer pedagogy, much like the queer theory that informs it, draws on the lived experience of the queer, wonky, or non-normative as a lens through which to consider educational phenomena. Queer pedagogy seeks to both uncover and disrupt hidden curricula of heteronormativity as well as to develop classroom landscapes and experiences that create safety for queer participants.
In unpacking queer pedagogy, three forms of the word “queer” emerge: queer-as-a-noun, queer-as-an-adjective, and queer-as-a-verb. Queer pedagogy involves exploring the noun form, or “being” queer, and how queer identities intersect and impact educational spaces. The word “queer” can also become an adjective that describes moments when heteronormative perceptions become blurred by the presence of these queer identities. In praxis, queer pedagogy embraces a proactive use of queer as a verb; a teacher might use queer pedagogy to trouble traditional heteronormative notions about curricula and pedagogy. This queer praxis, or queer as a verb, involves three primary foci: safety for queer students and teachers; engagement by queer students; and finally, understanding of queer issues, culture, and history.