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Article

Jennifer C. Ingrey

A survey of key contributors and theoretical tensions in the applications of queer studies in education is purposefully partial namely because of the impartiality embedded in the nature of ‘queer’, a verb whose action unsettles, dismantles and interrogates systems of normalization, beginning with heteronormativity and heterosexism. Queer theory emerged in the 1990s before influencing education, including both elementary and secondary schooling; however, queer is complex in that it involves the signifier or signified term: it is both the integration of queer content in curriculum as well as the practice of queering educational practices (i.e., curriculum, pedagogy and practice). The queering of pedagogy involves the queering of the educational subject, both teachers and students. In such a survey of queer in education, the ontological groundings for queer are important to consider given the paradoxical nature of queer to unpack and unsettle whilst maintaining its hold on an identity category in order to do its unsettling work. Indeed, the consequent recognition of the subjecthood of queer in educational contexts is a significant note in this attention to queer’s application in education. Queer also moves beyond not only an inclusion of queer content, but also exceeds queer sexualities to cohere and contrast with trans-infused approaches. Queer theory considers that the future of queer may well exceed beyond sexuality and gender altogether to become a practice of unsettling or critique more generally. Its continuity in education studies as well as its potentially impending expiration are concerns of scholars in the field.

Article

Despite the ubiquity of categories of race, sexuality, and gender in K–12 schools in the United States, there is limited research documenting how these categories influence the experiences of students, reflecting constraints on knowledge production, particularly with respect to queer of Color theories in education. Within the research that exists, scholars have used varying paradigms of difference, some of which erase and others of which recognize and theorize the relationships between race and queerness. Many studies have described intersecting structures of domination in U.S. schools and the lack of attention to intersectionality in school-based supports for queer youth. Fewer studies document examples of student resistance and activism, suggesting needs for future theorizing, research, and practice. Although the bodies of students, educators, staff, and family members in K–12 schools have been and continue to be understood through categories of race, sexuality, and gender, there is limited empirical research discussing the ways that race and queerness are co-constitutive of people’s experiences in the U.S. schooling system. In part, scholarly knowledge production has been constrained because of schools’ hostility to queer research and critical projects more generally, with queer research, and especially queer of Color research, often producing oppositional knowledge in tension with schools as state-sanctioned institutions. When research has been conducted about race and queerness in U.S. schools, scholars have used three main paradigms to conceptualize, or problematically erase, the relationship between race and queerness: discrete, additive, and intersectional perspectives. Discreteness suggests that race and queerness are separate, disconnected identities. The other two perspectives recognize interrelationships. An additive perspective suggests that identities are a sum of parts, whereas an intersectional perspective suggests identities as co-constitutive and resulting in unique, qualitatively different experiences. Research attending to the relationships of race and queerness has revealed that U.S. schools are unwelcoming if not outright hostile to queer youth, resulting in negative consequences such as lowered academic achievement and poorer psychological well-being. The particular experiences of and reactions to such marginalization vary with respect to intersections of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and social class. Although school-based supports such as supportive educators, inclusive curriculum and policies, and extracurricular clubs are beneficial, too frequently these supports lack attention to intersections of race and queerness, limiting their beneficial impact. These tensions show the need for intersectional coalition building approaches to a key element of anti-racist queer educational activism. Importantly, queer youth enact resistance and activism in schools in ways that are individualized and collective. Some resistance has been school-sanctioned (such as writing) and other instances beyond what schools sanction (such as violence). Collective forms were most common as queer youth of Color often drew on embodied and community knowledges to advocate for themselves and peers. In the absence of broader support, queer youth often used privilege, such as whiteness, as protection and thus reified oppressive values and practices. Future educational research needs to focus further on the intersections of race and queerness to help inform educational theories and practices to help queer youth, both white and of Color, learn and flourish in U.S. schools.

Article

Hannah Dyer

Discussions surrounding the rights, desires, and subjectivities of queer youth in education have a history marked by both controversy and optimism. Many researchers, practitioners, and teachers who critically examine the role of education in the lives of queer youth insist that the youth themselves should be involved in setting the terms of debate surrounding if and how they should be included in sites of education. This is important because the ways in which their needs and subjectivities are conceptualized have a direct impact on the futures that queer youth imagine for themselves and for others. For example, the furious and impassioned debates about sex education in schooling are also to do with the amount of empathy we have for queer youth. Thus, sex education is a frequent point of analysis in literature on queer youth in education. Literature on queer youth and education also helpfully demonstrates how racialization, gender, neoliberalism, and settler-colonialism permeate discourses of queer inclusion and constitute the conditions of both acceptance and oppression for queer youth. While queer studies has at times sharpened perceptions of queer youth’s subjective and systemic experiences in education, it cannot be collapsed into a unified theory of sexuality because it too is ripe with debate, variation, and contradiction. As many scholars and intellectual traditions make clear, the global and transnational dimensions of gender and sexuality cannot be subsumed into a unified taxonomy of desire or subject formation. More ethical interactions between teachers, peers, and queer youth are needed because our theories of queer desire and the discourses we attach to them evince material realities for queer youth. Despite the often prevailing insistence that queer youth belong in educational institutions, homophobia and heteronormativity continue to make inclusion a complicated landscape. In recognition of these dynamics, literature in the field of educational studies also insists that some queer youth find hope in education. Withdrawing advocacy and representation for queer, trans, and nonbinary youth in educational settings becomes dangerous when it creates a terrain for isolation and shame. Importantly, queer theory and LGBTQ studies have conceptualized the needs of queer youth in ways that emphasize education as a space wrought with emotion, power, and desire. Early theorizing of non-normative sexual desire continues to set the stage for contemporary discussions of schools as spaces of power and repression. That is, histories of activism, knowledge, and policy construction have made the present conditions of both inclusion and exclusion for queer youth. Contemporary debates about belonging and marginalization in schools are made from the residues and endurance of earlier formations of gender and race.

Article

Queer pedagogy can be considered a kind of critical pedagogy, which questions the neutrality of knowledge and renders teaching a political act. Drawing upon queer studies, it remains strategically poised on a series of important contradictions between constructing and deconstructing, defining and undoing. In the very impossibility of resolving such issues it challenges the basic premise of the institution of schooling—instead of providing clear and definitive answers to questions, it keeps them open. Its productivity lies in unsettling oppressive certainties. Can we both understand that bodies, by their very nature, exceed their discursive construction, and at the same time recognize people’s own identifications and the very real social and historical repressions they have experienced and continue to experience as a result of these? Discourse analysis in the field of education provides the potential for questioning the limits of discourse and the knowledge it creates, while creating spaces for recognition and the production of alternative understandings. Instead of simply replacing older knowledge regimes with newer (and supposedly better) ones—a traditional didactic approach—we might critically analyze how knowledge has been constructed and how people’s lived experiences challenge these constructions, and then begin to imagine a queer pedagogy based on this analysis.

Article

Page Valentine Regan and Elizabeth J. Meyer

The concepts of queer theory and heteronormativity have been taken up in educational research due to the influence of disciplines including gender and sexuality studies, feminist theory, and critical race theory. Queer theory seeks to disrupt dominant and normalizing binaries that structure our understandings of gender and sexuality. Heteronormativity describes the belief that heterosexuality is and should be the preferred system of sexuality and informs the related male or female, binary understanding of gender identity and expression. Taken together, queer theory and heteronormativity offer frames to interrogate and challenge systems of sex and gender in educational institutions and research to better support and understand the experiences of LGBTQ youth. They also inform the development of queer pedagogy that includes classroom and instructional practices designed to expand and affirm gender and sexual diversity in schools.

Article

Boni Wozolek

Critical geography, as it is studied in North America and parts of Europe, has been growing since the 1970s. However, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, race, home language, or the like, was not a primary concern of the field until the mid-1980s. As radical critical geography shifted toward cultural and critical geography, marginalized voices could be heard in and across the field in local and less-local contexts. As critical geography began to intersect with education in the mid-1990s, it became a tool for studying marginalization across layers of scale. Fields of geography are impacted as much by contemporary sociopolitical dialogues as they are by educational research and its related historical boundaries and borders. Finally, it is significant to consider what a critical gender-queer geography might mean as the field continues to grow.

Article

Emily M. Gray

Major research that focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer plus (LGBTIQ+) teachers demonstrates that the field encompasses largely Western contexts and shows that although LGBTIQ+ people enjoy legal protections within many Western nations, schools remain dominated by heteronormativity. A major concern for LGBTIQ+ teachers is whether or not to come out at work—this means disclosing one’s gender and/or sexual identity to staff and/or students. In addition, working in schools as a LGBTIQ+ teacher is difficult because it often involves negotiating private and professional worlds in ways that heterosexual and cisgender teachers do not. There remain absences in the work on/with/about LGBTIQ+ teachers, with gender diverse, trans*, and bisexual teachers particularly underrepresented within the literature in the field. Most research on/with/about LGBTIQ+ teachers under discussion here is located within North America, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Australia.

Article

Barbara S. Stengel

Sex/gender and affect/emotion mutually implicate one another in any theory, research, or practice with respect to education. It is important to examine these two elements together because the emergent focus on affect since the early 1970s is not an accident of thought but tracks the interest in sex/gender as an object of study and tracks as well the increased and increasing visibility of scholars who are not male, cisgendered, and heterosexual. Two overlapping but distinguishable approaches to the study of affect and emotion—affect theory and the feminist politics of emotion—have contributed to changing conceptions of sexuality and gender with respect to educational purposes and pedagogies. Affect theory begins and ends in lived experience; a feminist politics of emotion begins and ends in the press for active response that accompanies that lived experience. Nonetheless, there is a common concern with how power circulates through feeling and how ways of being and knowing come to be through affective relations and discourses. Moreover, there is a shared commitment to understanding affects not as constraints on rationality and hurdles to ethical action, but as the potential to think, act, and live differently.

Article

Queer theory is a tool that can be used to reconsider sociopolitical, historical, and cultural norms and values. Similarly, in qualitative research, queer theory tends to analyze the narratives of LGBTQ+ people and groups in ways that seek to queer everyday experiences. Both the theoretical framework and the narratives collected and analyzed in qualitative research are significant to unpacking business-as-usual in and across sociocultural contexts. This is especially true for systems of schooling, whereby LGBTQ+ people and groups are marginalized through schooling and schools, a process of exclusion that is detrimental to queer youth who are learning in spaces and places specifically designed against their ways of being and knowing. The significance of qualitative research as it meets the framework of queer theory is that it offers a practically and institutionally queered set of voices, perspectives, and understandings with which to think about the everyday in schools. This becomes increasingly important as schooling has historically been a place in which LGBTQ+ students and groups have resided at an intersection, where the sociopolitical and cultural marginalization that keeps the status quo in place crosses with contemporary values that both interrupt and reify such histories.

Article

Over the past two decades, universities have shown commitment to protecting queer students through policy provisions. Undoubtedly, these policies comfort queer students; however, students who claim queer identities still experience unique challenges that often lead to an inability to reach their full academic potential. Internationally, queer students experience different levels of discrimination: sometimes verbal, psychological, and physical. In South Africa, queer students experience systematic exclusion in everyday campus life. Given this context, it is necessary to find alternative ways to forge spaces for diverse existence; universities can create one of those spaces. Transformation in South African universities should be reflected in all aspects of the universities. As such, university residences are significant spaces in which students spend most of their time and begin to explore their identities. However, scholarship is often limited to the experiences of queer students at university at the expense of how these experiences shape their professional identities. Therefore, there is a need to explore students’ experiences living in university residences and to understand how these experiences shape their professional identities.

Article

Formal education supports various goals related to the transmission of a society’s values, from teaching basic literacy to instilling moral virtues. Although schools serve as places of assimilation and socialization into dominant norms, schools are also spaces where young people experiment with their own ideals and self-expressions. Researchers interested in how young people learn to inhabit gendered roles or “positions” highlight the significant role that schooling plays in gender subjectification. Put simply, gender subjectification is the process by which one becomes recognizable to oneself (and to others) as a gendered subject. Schools are key institutions where individuals learn to negotiate their places in society and to consider possible futures. Through interacting with one another and with the overt and hidden curricula in school, as well as with various social structures outside school, individuals are shaped by various discourses that involve desires, beliefs, rituals, policies, and practices. Education research focusing on gender subjectification has explored the mechanisms by which schools shape and reproduce, for example, the gendered knowledge that young people come to internalize and take up as “normal” or acceptable for themselves and for others, as well as what they resist or reject. As with all social institutions, a school is subject to and influenced by various communications that circulate and intersect inside and outside the school walls. These discourses include but are not limited to “official” communications such as laws, policies, and state- or district-sanctioned curriculum materials, various conversations circulating among media and fora, and conversations from peer groups, the home, and community groups. From these diverse and often contradictory sets of discourses, schools privilege and disseminate their own “discursive selections” concerning gender. These selections work on and through students to shape possibilities as well as place constraints on not only how students understand themselves as gendered subjects but also how they come to those understandings. Studies investigating education and gender suggest that inequities and inequalities often begin in early schooling and have long-lasting implications both inside and outside schools. School and classroom discourses tend to privilege hegemonic (meaning dominant and normative) notions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality while silencing, punishing, and, in some cases, even criminalizing differences. Research concerned with gender subjectification and school has addressed numerous significant questions such as: What are the gendered landscapes of schooling, and how do individuals experience those landscapes? What are the everyday discourses and practices of schooling (both formal and informal) that work on how gender gets “done,” and how do these aspects interact and function? How does school impose constraints on, as well as offer possibilities for, gender subjectivity, when institutional contexts that shape subjectivities are also in motion? Ultimately, these questions concern the role that schooling has in shaping how individuals think about and “do” selfhood. In general, critical studies of gender and subjectification gesture toward hope and possibilities for more equality, more consensuality, and more inclusivity of individual differences.

Article

Ndumiso Daluxolo Ngidi, Nkonzo Mkhize, and Brian Bongani Sibeko

School geographies have received little attention from scholarship on queerphobic bullying in South Africa. This is worrying because overwhelming evidence shows how schools are unsafe spaces for queer students. Indeed, schools are key to understanding the geographies of young people. They also play a central role in shaping their social identities. Within the South African context, school toilets are among the most dangerous areas for students in schools. In these spaces, students experience bullying, gendered violence, and crime. Yet the subjective experiences of queer students when accessing school toilets are not well understood. To shed some light on how the school toilet is a space that allows the re-enactment of violent hegemonic masculinities by heteronormative male students, this article reflects on queer experiences of schooling by paying particular attention to the space of the school toilet. Through our experiences, we show how the toilet space is a site for queerphobic bullying. We argue that school toilets are areas for the (re)construction of hegemonic, dominating, and violent heterosexual masculinity, and the further legitimization of hetero-patriarchal systems. While there is evidence of agency in our experiences, it is at the cost of violence. We conclude that schools should abandon the notion of gender binary not just in their toilet spaces but in all spheres of school life, from the curriculum to school culture and infrastructure. Drawing on these experiences, the article submit that this will, in part, reframe South African schools as possible sites for constructing a gender-equal society.

Article

The increase of transgender visibility and politics correlates with a renowned interest in gender equity in schools. The diversity of trans* and gender-expansive social identities, along with divergent conceptualizations of the meaning transing/trans*ing, ontology, identity, and embodiment, produces a wide range of ideal and pragmatic approaches to gender equity and justice in education. Fields and analytical frameworks that emerge from Decolonial Feminism, Queer Indigenous Studies, Queer of Color Critique in education, Jotería studies, and transgender studies in the United States have unique definitions, political commitments, and epistemological articulations to the meaning and purpose of transing/trans*ing. These divergent articulations of trans*ing often make projects of transgender equity and justice incommensurable to each other, or they converge at the various scalar aspects of equity design and implementation. By historicizing, or re-membering the rich body of decolonial modes of trans*ing bodies, knowledge, and selves, trans* of color critique in education research makes trans* justice possible by disrupting white-centric approaches to transgender inclusion that may fall short in the conceptualization of trans* justice and what makes a trans* livable life for queer and trans people of color.

Article

Adam Greteman

Queer resilience represents the skills and abilities that are learned and developed because of adversarial experiences or stressors due to prejudice, discrimination, and violence rooted in homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. These skills and abilities are historically and contextually dependent, as well as intimately connected to related forms of prejudice, discrimination, and violence based on other forms of difference.

Article

The “paradigm wars” of the 1970s−1990s fostered intense debate about the meanings and purposes of research and policy. Paradigmatic stances seemed to keep these two fields separate—at odds with each other methodologically and theoretically. Tracing this history yields knowledge about past and potential relationships between qualitative research and policy studies. Given qualitative research studies, social phenomena, and policy that reflects social values, it seems obvious that policy studies need qualitative research in order to understand policy processes, from development to implementation and practice, and that qualitative research would benefit from examining, analyzing, and contributing to a policy process. But who is responsible for this work? Are post-paradigm war relations possible and, if so, what may such relations look like? A review of the paradigmatic trajectories of each field allows a closer look at what qualitative and policy relationships look like when specifically thought through a focus on how theory shapes what we think of as research and policy. Whatever purposeful relationships are formed, rethinking dogmatic post-paradigm war logic is necessary to envision new questions that may drive research and policy futures.

Article

Gender and sexuality are slippery social constructs whose meanings vary across time and place. To capture some of the complexity of these relations, it is necessary to consider their mutable meanings in different parts of the world. This means understanding how gender and sexuality are regulated, produced, consumed, and embodied in young people’s lives transnationally. At a regulatory level, nation-states are found to disseminate different policies and approaches when it comes to young people’s gender and sexual learning. Alongside formal pedagogical approaches, young people’s peer groups and local friendship circles are critical to the production of sexual knowledge and gender practices. In what is a rapidly interconnected world, processes of cultural globalization evident in the spread of film, media, and music are providing new templates from which to transform more “traditional” gender and sexual relations. In consuming global images of gender and sexuality, young people are found to be active and discerning agents who experience and negotiate global processes at a local level, managing risk and carving out new opportunities as they see fit. Young people are seen to perform and embody gender and sexuality in a host of different ways. In doing so, they not only reveal the instability of sex and gender norms but also disclose the intense amount of “gender work” that goes into the performance of gender and sexuality.

Article

The theorizing of gender, sexuality, and borders emerged from borderland theory as conceptualized by Chicana lesbian writer Gloria Anzaldúa. Enacted in this theory are racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender identities and relationships to land, and the U.S.–Mexico border in particular. Borderland theory embraces the immigrants, the exiles, the mixed-race, the queers, the nonnormative, the crossers of binaries, broadly defined. Borderland pedagogies build upon borderland theory, encouraging recognition of diverse experiences, critical and flexible thinking, creativity, and acceptance of one’s contradictions. Popular culture serves as an important tool for borderland pedagogies, both as a resource for classroom teaching and as a broad-reaching medium to promote public learning. Music, film, literature, and television provide rich sources for learning and unlearning. Gender and sexual diversity in borderland popular culture are the outliers of heteronormativity and challenge dualistic notions of sex and gender. The borderland provide the symbolic location of the restrictions and wounds caused by binary thinking, as well as the place to recuperate, to heal, to learn, and to transform.

Article

Julia Sinclair-Palm

Youth organizing is a form of civic engagement and activism. It offers a way for young people to identify and address social inequalities impacting their local and global communities. Youth are provided opportunities to learn about power structures and pathways to create meaningful change to support their communities. In formal institutional approaches, youth organizing is understood as part of positive youth development and a strategy to train young people about civic society and democracy. Youth organizing is also seen as a way for young people to seek support, empowerment, and resources and to develop their leadership capacity. Central to the field of youth organizing are questions on the role of youth within youth organizing. Researchers examine the leadership structure within youth organizations, the acquisition of resources for the organization, the process for identifying issues that the organization will address, and how youth experience their involvement. Youth organizing has been especially important for young marginalized people who may feel isolated and face harassment and discrimination. Researchers have extensively documented how youth organizing by people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people in North America have played a large role in fights for social justice. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that queer and trans youth started organizing in groups connected by their shared experiences and identities related to their sexuality and gender. The development of Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools and debates about sexuality education in schools provide examples for exploring LGTBQ youth organizing in the 21st century.

Article

Elizabeth J. Meyer

The field of bullying research initially paid minimal attention to the influences of gender role expectations (masculinity, femininity, and gender role conformity), as well as heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia in understanding the phenomenon. This has shifted since the late 2000s, when more research emerged that analyzes gender as an influential factor for understanding bullying dynamics in schools. More recent studies have focused on LGBTQ youth, issues of disability, and racialized identities, as well as the impacts of online interactions. When examining gender and bullying, it is important to also examine related forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, dating violence, and other forms of sexual and violent assault such as transphobic violence and murder. In order to more effectively support schools and professionals working to reduce bullying, there must be a deeper understanding of what is currently known about gender and bullying, what works to reduce it in schools, and what still needs more attention in the research literature.

Article

Matthew Thomas-Reid

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.