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Sexuality in School

Sexuality in School: The Limits of Education

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Sexuality in School
    Book Description:

    From concerns over the bullying of LGBTQ youth and battles over sex education to the regulation of sexual activity and the affirmation of queer youth identity, sexuality saturates the school day. Rather than understand these conflicts as an interruption to the work of education, Jen Gilbert explores how sexuality comes to bear on and to enliven teaching and learning.

    Gilbert investigates the breakdowns, clashes, and controversies that flare up when sexuality enters spaces of schooling. Education must contain the volatility of sexuality, Gilbert argues, and yet, when education seeks to limit the reach of sexuality, it risks shutting learning down. Gilbert penetrates this paradox by turning to fiction, film, legal case studies, and personal experiences. What, she asks, can we learn about school from a study of sexuality?

    By examining the strange workings of sexuality in schools, Gilbert draws attention to the explosive but also compelling force of erotic life in teaching and learning. Ultimately, this book illustrates how the most intimate of our experiences can come to shape how we see and act in the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4221-6
    Subjects: Education, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION Queer Provocations
    (pp. ix-xxviii)

    Every September I fret about what to wear on the first day of teaching. It is a perennial worry, well-honed after a life spent in schools. The entire summer leading up to my first day in high school, a perfectly composed uniform hung in my closet: gray and maroon kilt, white button-down oxford cloth shirt, navy blue tie, maroon V-neck sweater. Aside from the kilt, not much has changed. These days my first-day uniform consists of a white button-down shirt, V-neck sweater, dark jeans, and colored sneakers. In high school I understood the uniform to be a failed attempt to...

  4. 1 BACKWARD AND FORWARD Narrating the Queer Child
    (pp. 1-24)

    In 1993 Eve Sedgwick risked a thought that remains as provocative now as it was then: How to bring our kids up gay? This question names the pedagogical dilemma at the center of this chapter. Sedgwick did not punctuate her title with a question mark. Instead, “how to bring your kids up gay” is delivered straight-faced as a parody of parenting manuals. The mock sincerity of the title critiques the taken-for-granted status of children’s heterosexuality and unmasks the barely hidden desire (or worry) that parents might be able to determine their child’s sexual orientation.

    The title continues (“The War on...

  5. 2 THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ADOLESCENT Sex Education as Taking a Risk
    (pp. 25-44)

    Sex education rests on a distinction between adults and adolescents. Who is the subject of sex education? Whose sexuality is in need of education? To put the question differently: Who is the adolescent in need of sex education, and who is the adult distinguished from the adolescent, in part, by not needing sex education? While we are accustomed to seeing the adolescent as requiring an adult, both for its construction as a historical, social, and psychological category, and in the ordinary sense that adults provide support for the social and psychological work of growing up through adolescence, we are less...

  6. 3 HISTORIES OF MISERY It Gets Better and the Promise of Pedagogy
    (pp. 45-62)

    In the fall of 2010, in response to the media coverage of a rash of suicides by gay youth, sex advice columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, created a short video that directly addressed struggling gay youth. In the inaugural video of what became theIt Gets Bettercampaign, Savage and Miller ask gay youth to remember that even if their high schools, homes, or towns are inhospitable, they should know that life gets better when you: leave high school, move out of your parents’ house, go to college, make gay friends, fall in love, travel the world,...

  7. 4 THINKING IN SEX EDUCATION Between Prohibition and Desire
    (pp. 63-80)

    In the preceding three chapters I explored how relationships between adults and children and youth can create the conditions for a growing up that tolerates the sideways movement of development. These conditions include the compassionate care of adults, but this care always risks misrecognizing children and youth either as reflections of adults’ lost histories or, if that illusion is broken, as threats to adults’ sense of “grownupness.” Across this study I have been asking this question: How can adults support the developmental work of children and youth when that work puts a certain version of the adult at risk? In...

  8. 5 EDUCATION AS HOSPITALITY Toward a Reluctant Manifesto
    (pp. 81-102)

    What place might sexuality have in education? Where will it arrive, and in what guise? Throughout this study, when LGBTQ sexuality has emerged in the spaces of education it is often as a controversy: battles over sex education, primary students reading about lesbian mothers, and fears of gay teachers seducing their students—all these examples illustrate the ways that sexuality sits in an often antagonistic relationship to education. In these controversies, sexuality is conceptualized as standing outside of education and as an interruption to the work of teaching and learning. Thinking about sexuality in relation to education taxes the conceptual...

    (pp. 103-104)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 105-110)
    (pp. 111-118)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 119-120)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 121-121)