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.
Marnina Gonick and Judith Conrads
Gender and sexuality are key aspects of identity that intersect with other social categories such as race, class, ethnicity, and ability to shape life experiences. While these forces are at work throughout one’s lifetime, adolescence is a particularly important time of discovery, negotiation, and resistance. Most young people in Western countries spend an enormous amount of time in schools, grouped together by age with others from their communities, including teachers and other school personnel. Schools are, therefore, important sites of sociality where young people are faced with the social and power dynamics of belonging, inclusion, and exclusion. The forms these processes take include forming friendships and romantic relationships as well as bullying and violence. Gender and sexuality are central to how these dynamics play out. Young people who do not conform to dominant binary versions of gendered expressions of femininity and masculinity as well as heterosexuality often encounter barriers to inclusion and recognition. Social relations among youth are central, but school curriculum, policies, teacher-student interactions, and how schools are physically organized all contribute to the shape that gender and sexuality will take in a particular context or location. Beyond the official curriculum, schools are sites where an unofficial curriculum of the body, gender performance, and gendered and sexed relations is learned through interactions with others and through encounters with powerful regimes of normativity. Young people are social agents who are actively involved in negotiating their gendered and sexed identities. However, they do so within the constraints of the discourses available to them to make meaning of their experience.
Crystal Morton, Danielle Tate McMillan, and Winterbourne Harrison-Jones
Though the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls are gaining more visibility in the literature, there is still a paucity of research around Black girls’ mathematics learning experiences. Black girls face unique challenges as learners in K–12 educational spaces because of their marginalized racial and gender identities. The interplay of race and racism unfolds in complex ways in Black girls’ learning experiences. This interplay hinders their development as mathematics learners and limits their access to transformative learning. As early as elementary school, Black girls are labeled as having limited mathematics knowledge and are often disproportionately placed in “lower level classrooms” devoid of any rigorous and transformative learning experiences. Teachers spend more time socially correcting Black girls rather than building on their brilliance. Even though Black girls value mathematics more and have higher confidence in mathematics than their White counterparts, they are still held to lower expectations by their teachers and are less likely to complete an advanced mathematics course. Nationally and globally, mathematics serves as an academic gatekeeper into every avenue of the labor market and higher education opportunities. Thus, the lack of opportunities Black girls have to engage in rigorous and transformative mathematics potentially locks them out of higher education opportunities and STEM-based careers. The mathematics learning experiences of Black girls move beyond challenges in K–12 spaces to limiting life choices and individual and community progress. To improve the formal and informal mathematics learning experiences of Black girls, we must understand their unique learning experiences more fully.
Lien Fan Shen
Issues of sexuality and gender equity in schools are often entangled with education reforms in Taiwan. Since 1949, when martial law was enacted by the Chinese Nationalist Party, schools had exercised disciplinary power over and exhibited forms of gendered oppression on students’ gender and sexuality. Since martial law was lifted in 1987, Taiwan has undergone several educational reforms. Taiwan’s education system was criticized for its focus on standardization, memorization, and lack of creativity, thus reformers pushed a more holistic approach, and gender equity education was included through the implementation of the Gender Equity Education Act in 2004. In general, gender equity education reforms were catalyzed by a series of social events, including two honor students’ suicide; students’ protesting a hair ban (how it is referred to in Taiwan) and gender-specific uniforms; a gender-nonconforming boy’s accidental death on campus; and anti-LGBTQ cases in a 2018 referendum to eliminate gender equity education in schools. These events exemplified the complexity of discursive practices that encompass struggles of gender and sexual minority individuals in schools, negotiations between the legislative process and public opinion, and media attention on and representation of adolescent gender and sexuality in Taiwan. Taiwan’s movements and progression of gender equity education may be seen as a magnifier through which issues of gender and sexuality are revealed not only in schools but also in society at large.
The schooling of girls has, across different times and places, often been a matter of heated public debate. From the 1800s to the present, contentious issues such as the purpose of girls’ education, curriculum content, and the meanings given to girls’ bodies within educational sites have led to varying discussions, opinions, and policies. At the center of these debates are the questions of how gender is understood; how it is used in a given place and time in the division of labor, the economy, and the family; and how it is assumed that young girls and women should be instructed for eventually taking up the positions deemed appropriate for their time and place. It is impossible, however, to simply talk about girls’ schooling as if this refers to a singular group of people. Differences in class, race, ethnicity, region, citizenship, sexuality, and other characteristics shape both the contours of the debate and the experience of schooling. Thus, any discussion of the issue of gender, girls, and schooling needs to take an intersectional approach—one that takes into consideration the ways in which identity categories work together within and across differences to produce experience, identity, and meaning. Currently, the question of girls’ education finds its strongest articulation in relation to the Global South. International organizations and major corporations alike have used their platforms to advance the cause of educating girls in the interests of national and global development. This has proved to have consequences that do not always take into account the complexity of girls’ lives in their local contexts. Issues of gendered inequalities in the Global North are sometimes mistakenly assumed to have been resolved, things of the past. However, girls in schools continue to face issues such as sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and discrimination. As a result, their issues are often misunderstood or marginalized within school communities.
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.
The number of homeschooling families in the United States has been growing at a steady rate since the early 1990s. Attempts to make sense of homeschooling—including research—are inherently political. These attempts are, therefore, highly contested. It is impossible to provide an agreed-upon definition of homeschooling, much less a precise number of families that homeschool, why they homeschool, or what the learning outcomes of that homeschooling might entail. Instead, homeschooling is best understood as a set of educative practices that exists in and between institutional schooling and family life. As families and schools evolve and change, so will the meaning and significance of homeschooling.