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Article

Elizabethe Payne and Melissa Smith

LGBTQ education policy includes federal, state, district, or school policies that specifically name lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer students and families, or those that include gender identity and sexual orientation among enumerated protected categories. Significant areas of LGBTQ education policy include antibullying, antidiscrimination, school discipline, sex education, teacher education, parental notification, gender-aligned facility access, and inclusive curricula. Policies explicitly addressing LGBTQ student experiences are most often written and enacted to address bullying, gender-based targeting, and other safety threats that may lead to school drop-out, self-harm, or other risk outcomes. An ongoing and pressing concern is the dangers and limitations of relying on deficit and risk discourses to create policies that are intended to ease LGBTQ youth paths to educational success.

Article

Since the 1990s gender has become a prominent priority in global education policy. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, 2000–2015) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, which replaced the MDGs) influence the educational planning of most low- and middle-income countries, along with the work of the various actors in the field. The historical antecedents to this era of gender and education policy include international development research beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, the Women’s Conferences in Mexico City (1985) and Beijing (1995), and increasingly nuanced academic research on gender and international development in the early decades of the 2000s. What began as calls to include girls in schooling and women in international development programs has become a much more complex attempt to ensure gender equity in education and in life. A wide variety of key policy actors are involved in these processes and in shaping policy, including the World Bank, the UN agencies (primarily UNICEF and UNESCO), governments (both donors and recipients of international assistance), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), corporations and private entities, and consultants. Partnerships among various actors have been common in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Persistent issues in the early 21st century include (a) the tension between striving to attend to quality concerns while increasing efforts to measure progress, (b) gender-based violence (GBV), and (c) education for adolescents and adolescence. These challenges are closely linked to how key concepts are conceptualized. How “gender” is understood (distinct from or conflated with sex categories) leads to particular ways of thinking about policy and practice, from counting girls and boys in classrooms (prioritizing sex categories and numerical patterns), toward a more complex understanding of gender as a social construction (and so presents options for curricular strategies to influence gendered social norms). Men and boys are acknowledged, mostly when they are perceived to be disadvantaged, and less often to challenge hypermasculinity or male privilege. Sexuality and gender identity are just beginning to emerge in formal policy in the early 21st century. Gender relations and patriarchy remain on the periphery of official policy language. Equity (fairness) is often reduced to equality (equal treatment despite differences in needs or interests). Although empowerment is theorized in research, in policy it is used inconsistently, sometimes falling short of the theoretical framings. Two broader concepts are also important to consider in global education policy, namely, intersectionality and neoliberalism. Engaging intersectionality more robustly could make policy more relevant locally; as of 2020, this concept has not made its way into global policy discourses. Neoliberalism, on the other hand, is a strong influence in shaping policy in gender and education globally, yet it is seldom made explicit. Building policy on a stronger conceptual foundation would enrich gender and education policy.

Article

South Africa’s constitution, wider legal context, and educational policies should enable its teachers to help create environments in which the safety and welfare of all their learners are protected and in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or intersex (LGBTQI) learners, and other vulnerable leaners, can develop integrated identities. Life Orientation (LO) is the main learning area in which comprehensive sexuality education and human rights are addressed. But despite the supportive policy framework, research shows that the school curriculum only makes oblique references to gender and sexual diversity, and that for the most part schools are not ensuring that educators or schoolgoing youth learn how to respect the diversity of human sexuality and genders. Instead, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia remain prevalent in South African schools and textbooks, with very little intervention from teachers to challenge discrimination. How it is possible to make sense of the disparity between what the country’s laws and policies stipulate and what is actually happening in schools? Why is it that policies are not resulting in improved experiences for the vast majority of learners who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), are same-sex attracted or nonbinary, or assumed to be LGBT? Why have South African school governing bodies, principals, and teachers not been able to respond to the fundamental changes in the country’s democracy in ways which disrupt, or even challenge, hetero- and cisnormativity, making schools safer for all learners? There are a number of known challenges to the implementation of LGBT-inclusive practices and curricula in South Africa. More research is required to understand how best to ensure that teachers are willing and able to integrate topics around gender and sexual diversity into their curriculum without perpetuating heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.

Article

Both significant progress and profound backlash have occurred in the inclusion of sexual and gender diversity across eastern and southern Africa. This includes the decriminalization of homosexuality in Mozambique in 2015 and the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (later annulled) in Uganda in the preceding year. Simultaneously there is increased pressure on Ministries of Education to engage more robustly with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education in education systems across the region. Emerging regional research points to a narrow, heteronormative focus in comprehensive sexuality education; access barriers to sexual and reproductive health services; and pervasive school-related gender-based violence, including homophobic and transphobic violence. Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a key role in developing best practice in advancing the SRHR of sexual and gender minority youth and are therefore a valuable resource for government SRHR policies and programmatic responses. The regional SRHR education policy landscape is underpinned by two policy narratives: that of young people’s SRHR as a public health concern and a focus on young people’s human rights. These policy narratives not only underpin SRHR policy in the region but also in many instances are drawn on in CSO advocacy when positioning the SRHR of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) young people as an important policy concern. These two dominant policy narratives, however, have a narrow focus on young people’s risks and vulnerabilities, may inadvertently perpetuate stigma and marginalization of LGBTQI youth, and may limit youth voice and agency. These narratives also do not sufficiently engage local sociocultural and structural conditions that drive negative SRHR outcomes for young people in the region. Research, advocacy, and policy development toward the full realization of the SRHR of sexual and gender minority youth can address some of the limitations of health and rights-based policy narratives by drawing on a sexual and reproductive justice framework. Such a framework expands the policy focus on health risks and individual rights to include engagement with sociocultural and structural constraints on young people’s ability to exercise their rights. A sexual and reproductive justice framework provides a more robust toolkit when working toward full inclusion of sexual and gender diversity in regional school-based SRHR policy and programs.

Article

The United States prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education via federal law. Case law in the United States also applies the prohibition of sex discrimination to incidents that were motivated by a person’s sex or gender, including gender identity and expression. Enumerated nondiscrimination, school-based policies that include gender identity and expression are among the foundational policies advocated for by researchers and practitioners that aim to make schools safer for transgender and gender nonconforming students. These policies serve as a foundation for all other interventions or policies that may be implemented in a school to increase safety for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Further, enumerated nondiscrimination policies provide students with a clear understanding of their rights at school, and they provide school personnel with grounding to prevent and intervene in gender-based discrimination. Research has found that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience high levels of stigma (e.g., manifested as discrimination, stigma-based bullying) in schools, and that these school-based experiences are associated with compromised educational outcomes in addition to disparities in behavioral, physical, and psychological health. Students in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies report less bias stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression compared to students in schools with non-enumerated policies. Further, students are more likely to report that teachers intervene in stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies compared to those that do not. Finally, studies have found that nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and expression attenuate the negative consequences of stigma for students.

Article

Young people’s experiences with spaces commonly called “the streets” are greatly influenced by gender and sexuality. Because queer and trans youth are policed in specific ways because of their identities and presentations and because queer and trans youth are more likely to experience homelessness than their peers, it is vitally important to understand the ways these young people are making meaning, knowledge, and culture from their experiences on “the streets” within the contexts of the United States and Canada.

Article

As more young people find language to describe their gendered experiences, education as a field is reckoning with how to best support and affirm them in schools. Research centering on the experiences of transgender and gender diverse students (TGDSs) has brought to light many issues that impact on their school experiences, such as lack of curricular visibility, in-school support, and lack of appropriate facilities, illuminating the systemic forces at play that hamper TGDS participation and livability in schools and drawing attention to the violence that is enacted against them through erasure and overt transphobia. Examining the pervasive violence that TGDSs face at school through a framework of epistemic injustice provides an entry point conceptualizing of violence as extending beyond direct physical or verbal victimization to include the harm done when an individual is disqualified by others as a knower of their own experience. Cultural cisgenderism, the systemic erasure of TGD people in all aspects of society, is the vehicle by which epistemic injustice organizationally and instructionally informs and creates school climates where TGDSs come to be subject to verbal and physical aggression. Understanding the violence that impacts on every aspect of TGDSs’ academic trajectories as expressions of cultural cisgenderism and epistemic violence provides educators with options for intentionally examining the ways in which school systems are complicit in the production of a silence and invisibility around gender diversity which cultivates unsafe gender climates and thus facilitates more overt forms of harm. Examining the more insidious and normalized forms of epistemic violence opens up space to probe more deeply into how a positive—not merely bearable—school experience might be imagined for and with TGDSs.

Article

Crystal Machado and Wenxi Schwab

Early pregnancy is a global issue that occurs in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Although the teen birth rate in the United States, which is high on the Human Development Index (HDI), has been declining since 1991, it continues to be substantially higher than that of other Western industrialized nations. For countries that are lower on the HDI, the teen birth rate is higher, partly because early marriages, pregnancy rates, and infant mortality rates are higher and more common in these regions. Except for some influential articles written by scholars in the Global south, much of the scholarship related to early pregnancy has been written by those in the Global north. Nevertheless, analysis of available scholarly literature in English confirms that several sociocultural factors—child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence/dating violence, family-related factors, poverty, early marriages, and rurality—lead to early pregnancy and/or school dropout. Although pregnancy can occasionally increase pregnant and parenting teens’ desire to persevere, the scholarly literature confirms that the majority need support to overcome the short- and long-term ramifications associated with early motherhood, such as stigma, expulsion and criminal charges, segregation, transition, strain and struggle, depression, children with behavioral problems, and financial instability. Based on the availability of human and financial resources, educators can use U.S.-based illustrative examples, with context-specific modification, to empower this marginalized group. Providing pregnant and parenting teen mothers with thoughtfully developed context-specific school and community-based programs has the potential to promote resilience, persistence, and a positive attitude toward degree completion. Schools that do not have access to federal, state, and locally funded programs can help teen moms thrive in the new and uncharted territory with inclusive community or school-driven policies and procedures such as the use of early warning systems (EWS) that generate data for academic interventions, mentoring, counseling, health care, and day care for young children.

Article

The term “Anthropocene” was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer to denote the present time interval as a new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on the Earth. The starting date for the epoch is contentious—around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1800 ce), at the start of the nuclear age, or some other time, both earlier and later than these dates. The term itself is also contentious because of its humanist and human supremacy focus, and the way it hides troublesome differences between humans (including gender and cultural differences) and the intimate relationships among technology, humans, and other animals. Endeavors such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to participate in society. However, within this goal is the assumption that women and “other marginalized Others” can be assimilated within the dominant social paradigm rather than questioning the assumptions that maintain the subordination of these social groups. The goals also overlook the divergent impacts on women around the globe. Education in an Anthropocene context necessitates a different pedagogy that provides opportunities for learning to live in and engage with the world and acknowledges that we live in a more-than-human world. It also requires learners to critique the Anthropocene as a concept and its associated themes to counter the humanist perspective, which fails to consider how the nonhuman and material worlds coshape our mutual worlds. In particular, education in the Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory.