Saturday, September 27, 2014

Queering Schools Reading

Queering Schools  by the editors of Rethinking Schools

Last week while trying to pick a week to lead discussion there were two topics that I was very interested in.  I was interested in the Nov. 5th topic Seeing Queerly and the Nov. 19th topic The Politics of Inclusion.  Both these topics are something that I feel passionate about.  We have talked so much about the power of privilege and these two groups are at the bottom of the power pyramid in todays culture, but I can see the growth that they have had in my lifetime.  We have talked about the campaign "Spread the Word to End the Word" and I have heard about "To B GLAD" day (Transgender, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Awareness Day).  In the end I chose the topic The Politics of Inclusion, but I still wanted to do more research on Queering Schools.  So whomever did pic the topic here is a jumping off point for you. 

Currently, I work in a Catholic school, I am not Catholic, nor was I raised Catholic, or any religion in particular, though my family celebrated Christian traditions, I do not personally consider myself a Christian.  As I began to read the article I continued to think how would this conversation/lesson go at my school.  Would it even be allowed? (Stances of Faiths on LGBT Issues: Roman Catholic Church)  Though I may not push the boundaries at this school in my first month as a teacher there, I still think that the LGBTQ community needs a voice in our schools.  Just like the racial issues we've been discussing in class, this subject also needs to be bought up and discussed with students.  The article Queering Schools was about ways that we as teachers can begin to bring the topic of LGBTQ issues into our schools.  The editors quoted and excerpt from From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, by Jacqueline Woodson, “Transsexuals, Teaching Your Children” (spring 2010), 

"What about enlarging a study of the Harlem Renaissance to explore the lives and impact of such LGBTQ poets, authors, and musicians as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Angelina Weld Grimké, Ethel Waters, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Josephine Baker? What about including the Lavender Scare in the study of the McCarthy era? Or the Stonewall Riots as part of the political foment of the late ’60s? Or considering implications of the campaign for LGBTQ acceptance in the military in the context of questioning current U.S. military strategy?"

The next quote reminded me so much of our discussion in class, and especially last weeks article by Armstrong and Wildman.  Again, these authors urge us to not sweep the issues under the rug, but find ways that we can openly talk about them.  

"This means a school filled with adults who are prepared to talk and listen to children talk about gender and sexuality, as well as other controversial and sensitive topics—adults who are willing to learn from youth as well as lead them. Community is built by working through differences, not sweeping them under the rug." 

I greatly enjoyed looking through the articles on ReThinkingSchools, and I cannot wait to see what each of us choose to read about.  


  1. Jenny, that last quote is so powerful, and so true. We need to be "adults who are willing to learn from youth as well as lead them." They have so much to offer us, and are so much more in tune to certain happenings and truths around them than we are. I definitely agree, as new teachers, it is a little frightening to push our boundaries...but if we are not the teachers to bring up these topics, who will? Certainly not teachers that have sat back for the past several decades without even saying the words "gay" or "black" out loud. Maybe our conversations need to start with these teachers in particular, so that they may be involved in our conversations with students.

  2. I agree with you Jenny and I also think that last quote is powerful. We do need to be prepared to talk to students about gender and sexuality in a way that is open and respectful. I think things are moving in the right direction. For example, Cranston West, for the first time this year, offers a LGBTQ club. I think that is amazing...even 20 years ago when I graduated high school that would have been unfathomable. So, yes, we are getting there. However, I do think homosexuality is still one of the "acceptable" prejudices people (especially older people) tend to have. I think real change does start with youth...and we need to have those sensitive discussions with our students to continue to foster and develop real change in our classrooms and beyond.

  3. Wow! I find the reading you chose an interesting one. I think that making LGBT a school wide initiative should be celebrated in a school. I know one school in particular promotes diversity week and it is a huge initiative where teachers get together to create different days of the week which celebrate people who are suppressed in our society.

    For example on one day students from the GSA and teachers help get the LGBT day started. "The Day of Silence" which is an initiative to get all students to participate in a non-verbal day which does not disrupt instruction (students sign wavers and write WHY they are doing it). It is a day where all students can participate and understand why the "Day of Silence" is important to the community. It represents students who are in the closet or are suppressing feelings because society under values them. Being quiet gives students what it feels like not to be heard. This is a powerful statement that both the GSA, students, and teachers are aware of and support this day, and all days, to best serve the community of the school. It is a school initiative in which diversity is part of their mission statement and they are held accountable for this every year by a school review committee.

  4. I was raised Roman Catholic. I went to parochial schools from K-12, including an all-boys high school which included seminary. During our freshman year, all students were taken on an overnight retreat with our faculty of priests, and recruited to the priesthood. To my knowledge, none of the boys heard the calling. A friend of mine, who went to public school, did hear that calling and after we were finished with 4 years of college, went on to pursue the priesthood, while I simultaneously turned my attention from the church. I have not returned to the faith, while he has continued to be a devout and inspirational minister. We remain close, and often have philosophical discussions over religion, and many other topics. He preaches a ministry that Roman Doctrine would probably disagree with, but which makes total sense. It is based on treating people the way you would like to be treated, and trying to understand and love the individual, where god resides in all of us. I grew tired of the hypocrisy of the church, and the leaders I knew, and simply practice my spirituality in my own way. In our discussions, he openly acknowledges the outdated mores of the church, yet implores me to understand the need of faith for the masses. I confront him with power and privilege of the church, and exclusion as rule, for such important issues of who gets into heaven. When it comes to the LBGT community, and the stance of the Christian Faith, the preachings fail to value the human person, and our society hides behind the "separation of church and state" to allow this to continue, while the same values, those of the church are predominant in politics, leadership, and the culture of power. This is a closed-minded and dangerous reality, for which many have suffered needlessly, and like many of the subjects we have already broached in class, is uncomfortable for many to talk about. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront of our class discussion, great choice.