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Multicultural Perspectives

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Homophobia in schools, Heterosexism, Hate crimes, School administration, Gay students -- United States, Homosexuality and education -- Study and teaching -- United States


In the wake of institutionalized homophobia afflicting public schools, the nation faces a unique opportunity to acknowledge and transform the assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual and gender-conforming. In this article, the author examines how people, as a nation, can reform schools to be more inclusive of diverse student identities, such as queer, by transforming educational policy to include the voices of marginalized youth. She begins by first describing federal legislation that excludes the protection of queer youth, subjecting millions of children to exploitation, humiliation, and condemnation within classrooms across the nation. Then, drawing from bell hooks (2000), and the theoretical framework offered by Gerstl-Pepin (2005), she examines the possibility of extending influence and power to queer youth and allies. She makes the case that the survival of nearly one-third of the student population (youth that are queer, questioning, or have family and/or friends who identity as such) depends upon an ongoing public awareness that queer identity and culture are vital and necessary parts of the whole. She offers a clear set of recommendations to bodies of government that influence schools, which transcend politics-as-usual in order to move the nation beyond the dominant forces of heterosexism and to empower queer youth within the educational system.


This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in the Multicultural Perspectives 2011. Copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at:



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