Still Queering Elementary Education
Journal of LGBT Youth Special Issue Editors: Dr. James Sears & Dr. Kristopher Wells
Eighteen years ago, shortly after the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard, the landmark book “Queering elementary education: Advancing the dialogue about sexualities and schooling” (Letts & Sears, 1999) was published with critical attention. At the time, even the word “queer” was viewed as controversial and contested as the field of LGBT educational studies challenged everyday taken-for-granted heteronormative assumptions about teaching, curriculum, childhood, gender, race, and the construction of family. This groundbreaking collection contained 22 essays, which explored foundational questions such as “What does it mean to teach queerly?”; “Why discuss sexuality in elementary schools?”; “What is a family?”; and “Who makes a girl or a boy?”. During the 2008 presidential contest, the book continued to draw focused attention when a written endorsement by Bill Ayers (featured on the book’s back cover) was associated with a Right Wing conservative attack on the Obama campaign.
While the study and field of elementary education has gradually progressed into more nuanced and complex investigations examining the normalizing processes of sexuality and gender, there still remains a paucity of critical scholarship focused on the primary schools as foundational to the construction and regulation of (hetero)sexualities and binary gender identifications. This is especially evident with recent increased interest and awareness of transgender children who are becoming much more visible and vocal at younger ages in primary schools. How are elementary educators and administrators responding to this “gender revolution”? How do elementary schools operate as critical sites for the production and regulation of sexuality, gender, and the promotion of childhood innocence? How are teachers implicated in or complicit with these normalizing discourses? How do students understand and do gender? How do they creatively resist and redeploy these identity-constituting practices? At what costs? Under what historical, social, cultural, and political conditions are discourses of sexuality and gender circulated and (re)produced? What are the impacts of hegemonic masculinities and femininities and possibilities for students to be and act otherwise? How might we continue to queer elementary classrooms and teaching practices to create spaces of immense hope and possibility to live beyond the gender binary?
This special double issue invites papers examining these and other questions to explicate the current state of the field of elementary education and LGBT issues worldwide. How far have we come as a discipline? What are the continued absences, barriers, and silences? Where does the field need to go to continue to advance the dialogue and bring forth meaningful change?
Abstracts are due April 30, 2017.