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The failure of antihomophobia education : embracing the hope of an impossible future MacIntosh, Lori B. 2013

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THE FAILURE OF ANTIHOMOPHOBIA EDUCATION: EMBRACING THE HOPE OF AN IMPOSSIBLE FUTURE by Lori B. MacIntosh B.A., Simon Fraser University/University College of the Fraser Valley, 1996 M.A., University of British Columbia, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Educational Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  March 2013  © Lori B. MacIntosh, 2013  Abstract In recent years academic attention, educational resources and popular media have turned to the issue of homophobia in schools and the violence facing LGBT youth and those perceived to be LGBT. Consequently there has been an increase in the development of curricula and other pedagogical tools meant to address the problem of homophobia. Yet there has been very little qualitative data exploring the success of these pedagogies, or the implications and efficacy of these programs for LGBT students. This qualitative extended case study addresses this analytical gap through an examination of the media and educational discourses employed by one urban community organization in Vancouver, Canada and the youth filmmakers with whom they work. The organization, Out in Schools, takes film, much of it youth produced, into educational settings throughout British Columbia in the hopes of breaking the silence surrounding gender and sexual diversity. In addition, they run a one-week filmmaking camp for aspiring youth filmmakers. This project utilises a number of ethnographic methods including participant observation, face-to-face interviewing, and researcher fieldnote reflections. Participants include adult facilitators, teachers, and youth filmmakers. Interviews took place over a threeyear period. The theoretical framework for this research is largely poststructural drawing extensively from queer and feminist theories. As part of this project’s theoretical investigation, I juxtapose the voice of queer youth and queer youth media production alongside the larger narratives of queer and neoliberal politics. Analysis revealed that the messaging of antihomophobia education has influenced and limited the ways in which Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer youth are able ii  to articulate queer identities. This study concludes that antihomophobia education is largely a normative project, that it is wholly implicated in discourses that arise from heteronormativity, informed by liberal understandings of individualism that invariably identifies the queer victim as a way of negating responsibility. Lastly, through a synthesis of data and analysis, I investigate the future of queerness within educational discourse, and drawing upon the work of Muñoz (2009), Duggan (2002, 2009), Bruhm & Hurley (2004), Bryson and MacIntosh (2010), I advance a notion of queer futurity in educational spaces.  iii  Preface Approval for this research given by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board at the University of British Columbia (H08-01711) on March, 23, 2009. I want to acknowledge the support of University of British Columbia, University Graduate Fellowships (Cordula and Gunter Paetzold Fellowship and Norske Skog Canada Limited Fellowship) in completing this research.  iv  Table of Contents  Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... ii	
   Preface...................................................................................................................................... iv	
   Table of Contents ...................................................................................................................... v	
   List of Tables ........................................................................................................................... ix	
   List of Figures ........................................................................................................................... x	
   Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................. xi	
   Dedication .............................................................................................................................. xiii	
   Chapter 1 Introduction .............................................................................................................. 1	
   Entry Points..................................................................................................................... 1	
   Research Questions ......................................................................................................... 4	
   Methodological Opening ................................................................................................ 8	
   Theoretical Framing: Coming to “Terms” .................................................................... 10	
   Sex, Sexuality, and Gender ................................................................................. 12	
   Risk, and Other Conversations . . . ............................................................................... 17	
   Youth................................................................................................................... 17	
   Queer Youth and Educational Spaces ................................................................. 20	
   It’s the Pedagogy, Stupid .................................................................................... 26	
   Neoliberalism ...................................................................................................... 27	
   Nuts and Bolts ..................................................................................................... 29	
   Chapter 2 Qualitative Groundings and Theoretical Extensions ............................................. 33	
   Burawoy and the Extended Case Method ..................................................................... 34	
   “Productive Disorientation” .......................................................................................... 41	
   Entering the Field ................................................................................................ 42	
   Knowledge, Power, and Researcher Reflexivity .......................................................... 44	
   Project Design ............................................................................................................... 46	
   The Interviews .................................................................................................... 47	
   v  The Films ............................................................................................................ 53	
   A Mutual Exchange ............................................................................................ 54	
   The Conundrum of Data Analysis ................................................................................ 57	
   Representation and Voice ................................................................................... 59	
   Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 62	
   Chapter 3 Neoliberalism and Antihomophobia Education .................................................... 64	
   Homophobia and School Climate ................................................................................. 65	
   How Students Define Homophobia .................................................................... 65	
   School Climate .................................................................................................... 70	
   Neoliberalism and Antihomophobia ............................................................................. 74	
   Mediating Reactions and Antihomophobia Responses....................................... 76	
   It Gets Better ....................................................................................................... 77	
   Make It Better ..................................................................................................... 79	
   Local Reactions ................................................................................................... 81	
   I’m Drawing A Blank: School Responses to Homophobia .......................................... 83	
   Curricular Inclusion ............................................................................................ 88	
   How Do Youth Respond to Homophobia and Harassment? ........................................ 94	
   Listen Up! What Youth Want Educators to Know ....................................................... 96	
   Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 99	
   Chapter 4 ............................................................................................................................... 101	
   OIS in Action: Bridging Antihomophobia and Antiheterosexism Pedagogies .................... 101	
   The Presentation ......................................................................................................... 101	
   A Typical Day ................................................................................................... 104	
   Facilitator Hopes and Presentation Dreams ................................................................ 117	
   Reflections on Student Responses .............................................................................. 118	
   The Complicated Space of Queer(ness) ............................................................ 122	
   Queer Missteps ........................................................................................................... 126	
   Barriers to Pedagogical Questioning of Normativity ................................................. 129	
   A Pedagogical Move: Rock Pockets ................................................................. 130	
   Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 136	
   vi  Chapter Five Youth, Film, and Futurity: Queer Persistence and Utopia ............................ 140	
   Queer Trajectories and Narrative Lines ............................................................ 143	
   No Hate Film Boot Camp ........................................................................................... 148	
   “My Film Will Change the World . . . or Something” ...................................... 149	
   Sense and Sensibilities: Neoliberalism in No Hate Films .......................................... 156	
   Queer Contradictions .................................................................................................. 161	
   Youth Filmmakers and Queer Spaces ......................................................................... 164	
   Problematizing Queer ................................................................................................. 167	
   Possibilities of Re-envisioning Queer......................................................................... 170	
   Celluloid Traces .......................................................................................................... 172	
   Cruel Optimism........................................................................................................... 174	
   Hope, Futurity, and Precarity ...................................................................................... 176	
   . . . new game. ................................................................................................... 177	
   Hope .................................................................................................................. 179	
   Chapter 6 Thinking A Way Forward .................................................................................. 181	
   Summary ..................................................................................................................... 182	
   Revisiting the Research Questions ............................................................................. 185	
   Overarching Findings and Significance ...................................................................... 186	
   Constructions of Youth and Risk ...................................................................... 187	
   Naming It: Failure in Educative Spaces............................................................ 189	
   Rethinking Media as Pedagogy ........................................................................ 191	
   Youth Media Production: Looking beyond assimilation .................................. 192	
   Implications ................................................................................................................ 195	
   Teacher Training and Professional Development ............................................. 195	
   Media ................................................................................................................ 198	
   Limitations .................................................................................................................. 199	
   A Group Focus .................................................................................................. 200	
   Forefronting Youth ........................................................................................... 201	
   Future Research .......................................................................................................... 202	
    vii  References ............................................................................................................................. 204	
    viii  List of Tables Table 1 Victimization Experiences at School in the Past Year .............................................. 68  ix  List of Figures Figure 1 OIS Facilitation Slide ............................................................................................. 107 Figure 2 OIS Facilitation Slides 2 ........................................................................................ 124  x  Acknowledgements Andre Gide said that “to read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.” The writing of this dissertation has been a long, rewarding and, at times, arduous journey. I have had the good fortune to travel not only with many good writers, but also many good friends, mentors and colleagues along the way. First and foremost I would like to thank my committee members whose guidance and unwavering backing made this dissertation possible. To Dr. Deidre Kelly: your support and critical insight from the early days of my Masters through to this research have been immeasurable. Your gentle encouragement and “hands-off” style kept me going and allowed me to develop this dissertation and its methodology in ways I could hot have otherwise done. To Dr. Mary Bryson: you taught me to ask “why?” in a way that cuts through to the core of what is important in each and every sentence I write. You encouraged me not to be afraid of my own ideas, and through our writing together I learned to embrace more fully my love of theory and language. I want to thank Dr. Bill Pinar for blazing a path for queer theory in Education and Curriculum. Your long history of scholarly work has been an inspiration and I am grateful for your critical acumen. This research was made possible by generous support from the Norske Skog Canada Limited Fellowship, the Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship, the Cordula and Gunter Paetzold Fellowship University Graduate Fellowship, the University of BC Graduate Fellowship and the University of BC Ph.D. Tuition Fee Awards.  xi  I could not have completed this work without the generosity of Out On Screen, an organization that opened its doors to my research and made important connections possible. Particular thanks go to Ross Johnstone and his amazing team of facilitators at Out In Schools, both past and present. I send my appreciation to Erika and Mark at Reel Youth for your inspiring creativity and filmmaking acuity. Of course, words cannot express the depth of my gratitude towards the youth participants in this research project. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and narratives with me. You are truly a force for good. I only hope that what I have done with your words and stories reveal that in some small way. Along the academic road I have had many mentors both intentional and accidental, all of who have influenced my thinking in generative and lasting ways, ways I could not have anticipated and for which I remain grateful – Deirdre Kelly, Mary Bryon, Jose Munoz, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, Bill Pinar, Eric Davis, Sylvie Murray, Karen Meyer, and Charlotte C. Thank you to the members of the queer research group, especially Dai K., and Emilia N., and cj R. And to all of my friends and colleagues who tirelessly cheered me on and from who I gain constant strength most especially Michelle P., Janice S., Gina W., Melinda D., Gae W., Michele P., Stuart P., Linda F. D., and Deanna R. Last, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge my family . . . My father to whom I dedicate this work, and Butler and Saffron for all of the long nights at my side and for reminding me to breathe. And to Lisa who has journeyed this long road alongside me with an abiding belief in my ability to reach my destination when even I did not. As I reach this journey’s end I thank you all.  xii  Dedication To the LGBT youth who continue to stand up for themselves and each other every day. And to my father, John J. MacIntosh, who taught me that no obstacle is ever too big to overcome, and that it all really is just a “small thing on a big ship.”  xiii  Chapter 1 Introduction For politics to take place, the body must appear. —Judith Butler (2011, p. 3)  Entry Points It seems as if every time we open a newspaper, check our Twitter feed, or watch the news, there is a story or a sound bite chronicling the schooling experiences of LGBTQ1 youth (Kosciw, Greytak, & Bartkiewicz, 2010; Taylor & Peter, 2011); stories of queer youth suicide (Guasp, Basanti, & Daly, 2012; Taylor et al., 2011), and bullying (Carroll, 2011; Taylor et al., 2009). Equally prolific is the reproduction of these real-world issues in television plot lines (House, Grey’s Anatomy, Degrassi, and Glee, to name a few) whose scripted interpretation and surface explorations of gender, sexuality, and homophobic violence are neatly solved within their allotted time frames. One might argue that all exposure is good exposure, especially in light of the very real dangers and everyday violence that queer youth face; however, there is an equally important concern about whose stories are  1  I hesitate to include transgender youth in these statistics, even though many of the  researchers cited do so, as many studies either universalize trans youth into LGB or have such low numbers of trans-identified respondents as to make their results questionable when hypothesizing impacts. The Robinson and Espelage (2011) study is an exception to this problem, as they include a distinct and reasonably significant subgroup of trans youth in their study of 13,000 youth in Dane County, Wisconsin. 1  and are not told in the rush to find a solution for all things related to bullying and “at-risk” LGBT youth. Unfortunately, in classrooms, playgrounds, school hallways and stairwells, the problems are not solved quite so easily, and the narratives are much more complex. Unlike television, the problems facing those who are queer, and those perceived to be queer, cannot be simply scripted away. It is here, in the complicated spaces of media, education, and interpretation that my interest began and continues to lie. I am committed to addressing the issues of concern to lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual and transgender youth in educational spaces. I am particularly attuned to the topic of antihomophobia education and its successes and failures. These ongoing dialogues, as topical as they are for research, have significant and very real implications that mark the difference between success and failure for countless youth. Unfortunately, for many sexual- and gender-minority youth, the experience of school and learning is one marked by homophobic violence, social stigmatization, isolation, and discrimination (Khayatt, 1994; Mufioz-Plaza, Quinn, & Rounds, 2002; Quinlivan & Town, 1999; Slavin, 2000; Smith, 1998). In the United States, Gay Lesbian Straight Educators (GLSEN) reports that 61% of LGBT students feel unsafe, and 72% hear derogatory remarks. Youth report that 85% are verbally harassed and 40% are physically harassed based on their sexual orientation (Kosciw, Greytak, & Bartkiewicz, 2010). In Canada, a national study of school climate found that 75% of students felt unsafe in at least one place at school, while 55% reported being verbally harassed and 21% physically harassed or assaulted, and 70% heard pejorative expressions such as “that’s so gay” in school on a daily basis. In the same study, approximately 10% of students overheard a teacher making homophobic comments  2  daily or weekly. A new study from Great Britain finds that 55% of LGB students experience homophobic bullying and 99% of LGB young people hear homophobic language such as “that’s so gay,” with 25% reporting that teachers never intervene (Carroll, 2011). These studies across three countries and two continents point to a pervasive problem of homophobia in schools for all youth, and in particular for youth that identify as, or are assumed to be, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning).2 My interest in this project arose out of a long history of working with LGBTQ issues in a number of different communities and locales, as well as from my own work in the UBC teacher education programme with students and instructors. Teaching in the programme, I noticed resistance and fear among young teachers regarding issues of sexual diversity as well as questions about how (and if) one ought to address LGBTQ issues in the classroom, and a general anxiety regarding that possibility. The language and knowledge that teachers had was generally anchored in individualism (I am not homophobic but . . .). Additionally, students were overly concerned with how parents, administrators and religious groups would react to their as-yet-unfounded fears of retribution. In teaching, and in discussing teaching with my educator colleagues in professional development situations, I became aware that the language of antihomophobia, and indeed the usefulness of the rhetoric used to prepare teachers to work with LGBTQ youth, was lacking and failed to advance conversations beyond discussions of whether homosexuality was “right or wrong” and whether they could or should discuss homophobia at school (Russell, Kosoiw, Horn, & Saewyc, 2010). I wondered what we, as both teacher educators and teachers in classrooms, might do  2  This, as well as additional literature, is more thoroughly discussed later in the chapter. 3  differently to move the conversations from the individual to the systemic, from assimilation to difference. Simultaneously, it was at this time that I first became aware of the development of a burgeoning program called Out in Schools (OIS), a subsidiary community-outreach program under Out on Screen, Vancouver’s queer film festival. OIS takes film, much of it youth produced, into educational settings throughout the province in the hopes of breaking the silence surrounding gender and sexual diversity and offers analytic tools and strategies to confront homophobia and heterosexism. Through OIS, young people are given the opportunity to express their own views about homophobia in the classroom and communitycentre discussions and are invited to participate in independent media production in the form of weeklong film boot camps and a province-wide PSA competition (recently expanded to a national competition). First working with OIS on its advisory committee and later as a board member, I found that the work with which it was engaged offered an opportunity to explore a different type of pedagogy both within and outside traditional school spaces. OIS was and is engaged in this work through media and film. This is and was an area of compelling interest for me, and in which I felt also had exceptional nontraditional pedagogical experience, all of which combined to create a research opportunity with multilayered possibility and insight as well as a complex social justice interpretation. Research Questions When I began this project, gender initially served as the organizational frame. I wanted to explore how youth understood gender, and how both sexual- and gender-minority youth and heterosexual youth navigate the ubiquity of gender as an organizational  4  mechanism central to their sexual and gendered self-identifications. I developed the following initial research questions: §  How do youth understand gender writ large?  §  How do self-identified sexual-minority youth and gender-minority youth understand/navigate the categorizations of gender and sexuality?  §  How do youth who self-identify as fitting within heterosexual norms understand or navigate gender in relation to themselves or those who are different than themselves?  Early on, I identified and my interest in youth media production and soon after recognized OIS as a potential research site because of its use of youth film. OIS was also, at this time, in the midst of revamping its online presence and developing a more interactive, youth-oriented site. From there I developed further research questions: §  How does the employment of media, as formal and informal curricular and pedagogical tools, allow and encourage explorations of sexuality and/or gender?  §  Does the use of media and accompanying curricula open up possibilities for youths’ sexual and gender identifications?  §  What possibilities does the introduction of media-based pedagogies such as those employed by OIS offer curricular and pedagogical reforms?  §  How do youth view antihomophobic and antiheterosexist curricula in these mediated frameworks?  My intention was to explore the ways in which gender pervaded youths’ social and cultural understanding, and how it expressed itself both heteronormatively and, it follows, homonormatively.  5  These questions are based in an understanding of the binary sexual classifications that exist to define heterosexual as the norm and gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, and so on as other, and their concomitant dependence on a sexual-object choice with intelligible gender identification as either male or female. Existing pedagogical frameworks, then, it seemed to me, begged the question of whether attempts to educate about sexual diversity necessitate, or are viewed as requiring, a narrowing of gender, or at best a reifying of existing binary categorizations. Specifically, using OIS’s films as a sounding board to generate dialogue, I wanted to investigate how youth came to view themselves and others within a binary gender classification system. How would youth’s material and discursive articulations of gender be consistent with—or challenge—OIS’s pedagogical and curricular strategies? After a few months of following the online discussion board, which had very little interaction from youth, and after greater consideration of the existing research questions, I felt I had not yet identified the larger burning issue. It was while watching youth view the youth-produced films that I realized the most compelling phenomenon was the way in which youth intersected with and responded to antihomophobia education and its messaging. Although relevant and distinct issues on their own, gender and sexuality were unavoidably linked to heteronormativity. This, then, was my missing link and would become the major focus of the work herein. Heteronormativity (discussed in more detail below), as it turned out, was largely absent any of the antihomophobia messaging I had encountered in my research to this point. I began to broaden my literature review of antihomophobia literature and LGBTQ issues in education, most of which consistently left heteronormativity unmentioned and undisturbed in its ever-present silence. What’s more, hearing youth speak at OIS facilitations, which I had  6  begun to attend, I realized youth were pushing back against homophobia—questioning the stereotypes, challenging its simplicity. They were also reproducing antihomophobia’s lessons vis-à-vis a parroting-back of the curricula they had heard and with which I was familiar, and in so doing (re)producing antihomophobia’s pedagogical stereotypes. I began to consider why it was that the projects of antihomophobia—as sites of educational reform—were, by my estimation, failing youth. It was then that I shifted my focus more explicitly to youth media production, and what I then saw as a larger political question located antihomophobia education, or at least the efficacy of, within the context of queer theory and the current cultural and political moment. Current research questions include: 1) What informs the antihomophobia discourses taken up by youth? 2) How do the pedagogies offered by OIS support and/or disrupt antihomophobia and antiheteronormative discourses? 3) How do youth filmmakers interpret institutionally based antihomophobia education? 4) What are youth filmmakers’ expectations the antihomophobia messaging in their films pedagogies? Following the new dissertation structure adopted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (http://www.grad.ubc.ca/current-students/dissertation-thesis-preparation/structure-doctoraldissertation), this introductory chapter begins by mapping the context of the dissertation, outlines the research questions, and offers a review of relevant literature in the field. In addition, I describe the setting and the state of the field, as well as the opening up of the theoretical conversations regarding epistemologies, terminology, and contribution.  7  As already stated, I begin by discussing how this project came into being, bringing together my own scholarly journey, the work with which I was engaged with in teacher education, and my involvement with LGBTQ communities. Next, I outline my research questions as they were first articulated and describe how they changed over the course of this project. Below, I offer an overview of my methodology (discussed more fully in Chapter 2) and describe my research “site” as the spaces in which OIS operates. Following this, I explicate my theoretical framing and the important terminology within the dissertation and then move on to discuss other literature in the field, including queer youth in educational spaces, understandings of pedagogy, and the role of neoliberalism. Each of the areas of literature discussed are woven throughout the dissertation and expanded upon in the data chapters as I work with the data to create a theoretically and literature-rich extended case study. The chapter concludes with an outline and rationale of the dissertation layout. Methodological Opening The OIS Program, a media-based educational nonprofit, emanates from Out on Screen’s (OOS, Vancouver’s queer film festival) desire to bring queer film and video to youth who are often unable to attend the film festival because of the festival’s 18-and-over rating. In its earliest incarnations, OIS’s purpose was to bring queer-content videos to gaystraight alliances (GSAs) across the Lower Mainland in order to “make high schools a safer place for queer youth to learn and socialize” (Out on Screen, n.d.). While OIS still facilitates sessions for GSAs, they have, in the last three years, expanded the program, conducting workshops in middle and high school classrooms, including Planning 10, drama, English, and socials classes. Over the next one to two years, OIS will increase the number of educational screenings it provides and develop a set of curricular tools for teachers and counselors.  8  Generally, schools initiate contact with OIS to provide facilitated screenings. A teacher, community worker, GSA, school counselor, or student youth invites OIS facilitators to conduct a session ranging from 50 minutes to 2 hours. The facilitators typically bring one or two age-appropriate independent films or videos to the school, youth-run community centre, or drop-in centre. The screening is followed by a discussion session. The goals and objectives for the sessions change depending on the site and the participants, but generally speaking the desire is to facilitate learning of sexual and gender diversity and increase understandings regarding issues of homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia as they pertain to youth. As is discussed in Chapter 5, OIS also runs a weeklong videomaking boot camp for queer and allied youth. The methodology for this study is not, however, an ethnography of OIS. It is a qualitative study focused on the antihomophobic educational messaging and the implications of this messaging for queer youth, educational reform, and queerness more generally. One way in which researchers are able to access communities and cultural landscapes is to incorporate and explore various technologies, including video, popular media, and, more recently, web-based media (Bryson, MacIntosh, Jordan, & Lin, 2006; Miller & Slater, 2000; Ruhleder, 2000; Turkle, 1995). With this in mind, the study is framed with media as an integral piece of collected data but also an essential methodology through which gender and sexuality will be read. The project employs ethnographic methods, including participant-observation of the facilitations in schools and the curricula working group, individual interviews, focusgroup sessions run by OIS to improve their programs, and a diverse focus group of sexualand gender-minority and heterosexual youth organized for the purposes of this research.  9  This dissertation describes and analyses a three-year extended case study of OIS. I explore OIS pedagogies and film and filmmaking by queer youth through OIS to analyse representational understandings of homophobia and antihomophobia, youth filmmakers’ struggles to create recognizable subjects and the ways in which notions of queerness and the rhetoric of popular antihomophobia pedagogies are echoed in and through their work. Taking as its premise the belief that media plays a significant role in the lives of youth, my research utilizes film as a scaffolding to explore and complicate current templates of antihomophobia initiatives, and the ways in which these pedagogical frames are echoed back in the articulations of young queer filmmakers. Theoretical Framing: Coming to “Terms” While it is not possible to clarify language and its meanings in any complete way, I briefly outline the ways in which I am engaging with the terms and theoretical concepts embedded within this project. These definitions are by no means exhaustive; they are meant, rather, to background the theoretical frames woven throughout this proposal. To construct and articulate what is meant by subjectivity and then attempt a short working definition is complicated. Scholars such as Foucault (1978, 1991) and Lacan (1992,2002) spent much of their careers theorizing this very topic. In attempting to understand the manifestation of queer identities and critique the social and political structures that mediate and influence antihomophobia, subjectivity becomes central. It will, perhaps then, suffice to say that, as a point of equivocal departure, I think of subjectivity in the Lacanian psychoanalytic sense—that is, of coming to know oneself as “self,” an autonomous unit discrete from others, through language (the symbolic) and the intricacies of representation and desire produced therein (Lacan, 2002). And, from a feminist  10  poststructural perspective I take subjectivity to be, that which accounts for “the conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions, which can accounts for the relationship between the individual and the social” (Weedon, 1997). Additionally, I utilize the work of Butler (1992), who gives, perhaps, her most cogent explication of the subject and subject position, noting: In a sense, the subject is constituted through exclusion and differentiation, perhaps a repression, which is subsequently concealed, covered over, by the effect of autonomy. In this sense, autonomy is the logical consequence of a disavowed dependency, which is to say that the autonomous subject can maintain the illusion of its autonomy insofar as it covers over the break out of which it is constituted. This dependency and this break are already social relations, ones, which precede, and condition the formation of the subject. (p. 12) Further, Butler goes on to argue that the subject is created by means of exclusion and abjection, “constituted through power” but “never fully constituted, but subjected and produced time and again” (p. 13). Through this Foucauldian reworking of the subject, Butler creates space for a subjective resistance. Here, in the tension-filled, contradictory and incomplete pre-political moment, agency is grounded in “power’s own possibility of being reworked” (p. 13). Added to this, my work is further informed by the conceptual and political renderings of several other (largely poststructurally inclined) theorists, such as the temporal specificities of queer offered by Michael Warner’s (2002) rendering of counterpublics, Lauren Berlant’s (2011) notion of cruel optimism, Lisa Duggan’s (2002) critique of homonormativity and the postqueer present, Kathryn Bond Stockton’s (2009) consideration of queer childhood, and  11  Jose Muñoz’s (2009) notion of queer futurity. Armed with this amalgam of knowledge, I propose that antihomophobic pedagogies are antithetical to the viability and politics of queer, the puissance of queerness, and are indicative of a neoliberal logic that renders notions of counterpublic and counternormative discourses ineffective. In so doing, I trace the theoretical and historical trajectory of queer theory and politics and its relationship to current forms of antihomophobic discourse as a political and pedagogical project. Alongside this theoretical investigation, I intentionally juxtapose the voice of queer youth and queer youth media productions as a separate discourse independent of, but implicated within, the larger narratives of queer and neoliberal politics. Sex, Sexuality, and Gender Ironically, since the publication of Foucault’s History of Sexuality (1978) it has been quite difficult, if not impossible, to engage sexuality as a distinct identificatory categorization. Nonetheless, I employ a Butlerian understanding that, following Foucault, posits sexuality as a particular performative iteration. In her interpretation of sexuality, Butler (1993) invokes both the law of the father and the law of the state, asking how “we pursue the question of sexuality and the law, where the law is not only that which represses sexuality, but a prohibition that generates sexuality or, at least, compels it directionally?” (p. 95). The answer, which Butler situates in the phantasmatic (e.g., Freudian fantasy, documentary drag queens), is the place where the subject encounters history. It is in this space where the subject projects itself and imagines its future and, inevitably, its failure. Thus, performatively, the “sexed” body is bound up in a set of practices “through which the heterosexual imperative is inculcated” (Butler, 1993, p. 18), it is both a self-possessed political claim and “the means by which [one is] dispossessed” (Butler, 2004, p. 16).  12  Because it is the binary framework central to the logic of heteronormativity, it seems necessary at this point to discuss with some depth the concept of gender. Since its evolution from the fleshy confines of the biologically sexed body, gender has been taken up variously in the work of feminists, materialists, constructionists, poststructuralists, and queer theorists (Berger, Wallis, & Watson, 1995; Butler, 1989; Collins, 1990). Scholars from disparate fields have variously discussed and debated the importance of understanding gender as a construction and the complex intersections of its construction. 3 Looking beyond the inviolability of the heteronormative trinity (sex/gender/sexuality), recent scholarship has again begun to grapple with the primacy of gender, the embeddedness of its language, and the contingent repercussions of the theories in which it is embedded (Butler, 2004; Halberstam, 2005; Paasonen, 2005). Imagining theories of gender and sexuality, and thus queerness, that challenge the social, cultural, and political limits of language and history is no small task; indeed, it is not the goal of this work. I am arguing that gender—variously reconstituted, revisited, and redeployed—ubiquitously informs the logic of language, discourse, culture, and ideology. Gender’s normative insistence and its ever-present binaries persist, invisibly thwarting attempts to overcome its conceptual and ideological occupation. Objectifying and normalizing the body, gender fuels “the permanent difficulty of determining where the biological, the psychic, the discursive, the social begin and end” (Butler, 2004, p. 185). Consequential to this are the spatial and temporal specificities of 3  There are far too many theorists who have dealt with gender both historically and  contemporarily to list here. That said, certainly the work of Gayle Rubin (1975), Judith Butler (1989), and Monique Wittig (1992) stands out amongst the earlier and influential scholarship in this area. 13  gender’s forms of embodiment, which are, in Foucaudian terms, particular regimes of truth enacted on and through the body. As Foucault (1994) argues: The idea that there could exist a state of communication that would allow games of truth to circulate freely, without any constraints or coercive effects, seems utopian to me. . . . I do not think that a society can exist without power relations, if by that one means the strategies by which individuals try to direct and control the conduct of others. The problem then, is not to try to dissolve them in the utopia of completely transparent communication but to acquire the rules of law, the management techniques, and also the morality, the ethos, the practice of the self, that allows us to play these games of power with as little domination as possible. (p. 298) In line with Foucault, I do not argue that there is an alternate “truth” of gender, sexuality, homophobia, or heterosexism to be knowable outside of language, outside of dominant discourse and ideology, but rather a negotiation and a resistance to be had within its normative boundaries that is itself rife with the rules of law. Gender as a concept is not without tension and conflict, even amongst those who critically examine its assorted manifestations. Despite the initial cleaving of sex from gender enacted by Rubin in 1975, and variously reprised in the work of Butler and others, gender has continued to saturate social and political fields of play. Both academic and common sense understandings have tended to conflate sex with the social and material conceptions of gender (Butler, 1989, 1993; Sedgwick, 1990; Weedon, 1999). Schools, in particular, authorize the production of distinctly gendered spaces; correspondingly, educational environments often reproduce gender roles and gendered expectations (Connell, 2000;  14  Rasmussen, 2006; Thorne, 1993). From an educational standpoint, then, gender—related erroneously to sexuality—serves to organize the ways in which youth are labeled and categorized, textbooks written, and curricula designed (Kelly, 1993; Mac An Ghaill, 1994; Sadker & Sadker, 1995). Yet some youth embrace identity production with a divergence that is more complicated than the binary categorizations of sexuality and gender can hold (Davidson, 1996; Gonick, 2003), while others embody a difference that cannot be absorbed by the most assiduously normative logic, resulting in painful identificatory abjection. Thus, schools reify and reproduce gender and sexual norms often at the expense of those most likely to resist them. Youth embrace, challenge, and occasionally disrupt these hegemonic understandings, just as they are used by and produced within them (Gutierrez, 2004; Loutzenheiser, 2002; Rasmussen, 2006; Willis, 1977). Still, the social and cultural reproductions of gender and sexuality and the pedagogical implications therein are far more complicated than any single theory or explanation can realize. Gender, sex, and sexuality, as discussed above, flow through any usage of the term queer. For the purposes of this project and my own thinking (as opposed to how it was taken up by OIS or the youth), queer is not an alternative to extended naming, the so-called “alphabet soup” of identities like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, questioning, and intersex. The term “queer theory” is said to have originated with Teresa de Lauretis in an introduction she wrote for a 1991 special issue of Differences. Though certainly it can be argued that Sedgwick’s (1990) Epistemology of the Closet is queer theory’s foundation. Sedgwick was among the first to unravel the reticular “incoherencies of homo/heterosexual definition” (p. 2). Extending the tenets of feminist and gay and lesbian analysis, Sedgwick  15  articulates the ways in which hetero/homo categorizations are co-dependent within “a performative space of contradiction that they both delineate,” yet seldom acknowledge (p. 48). I would argue that it was her reexamination of the social and historical contexts in which these definitions have operated over time, and of the circuitous authentication that heterosexuality and homosexuality themselves reproduce vis-à-vis the abject gay body, that opened the door to queer theory’s larger unhinging of static categorizations. Since its early conceptualizations queer theory has been taken up by many scholars, both within and outside of education (Warner 1993, Bryson & de Castell, 1993, Britzman, 1995, Loutzenheiser, 1996, Jagose 1996, Pinar, 1998). The importance of queer as a theoretical frame has been that it calls into question assumed knowledges regarding sexual and gender and the assumed alterity of particular identities. In doing so, educational theorists have mobilized queer theory to challenge conventional (read heteronormative) knowledge regimes that coalesce through language, discourse, theory, and ideology to form the normative “truths” of gender and sexuality. Youdell (2010) speaks to the difficulty of utilizing queer and locates this struggle specifically to the (re)working of identity markers and markers of difference, stating that queer theory as “a tactical politics is in play when we hold onto and assert queer even as we know that queer may have already been recuperated by the binary thinking and unitary subjects of identity politics and been redeployed to demarcate and define yet more insider and outsider locations” (p. 89). Queer theory not only “works the verb ‘to queer’ to centralize the constant need for critical attention to the processes of subjectification but works to regulate the sway of normative authority “in queer subcultures themselves, concerned not only with the limits of discourse around queerness but the limits of discourse in general  16  (Mayo, 2007, p. 80). Similarly, Britzman (2000) offers a valuable conceptualization of queer theory when she notes that it is “not a set of contents to be applied” but rather “ a set of methodological rules and dynamics” for engaging with everyday life (p. 54 n. 6). The rules and dynamics of which she speaks characterize a queer theory that takes “the side of damaged objects, making impertinent relations, attending to the conditions that allow normalcy its hold . . . and supposing the play of difference, division, and alterity in reading practices” (p. 54, n. 6). Thus, as a methodological and analytical tool, queer theory attends to both the subject and the text, analysing the interior processes of discourse, its theoretical slippages and its reader. Risk, and Other Conversations . . . In this section the goal is to briefly outline a number of the major concepts and literatures upon which this dissertation draws and directly interrogates. As with most introductory overviews of concepts or literatures, the material is presented, in a manner that introduces the concepts in a general manner to offer the reader a preliminary understanding of how I am taking up the concepts. The desire, here, is to open the conversations in order that it may be expanded upon and complicated as it is interrogated, analysed and theorised with and through the data.. Youth Working through the usage and complexity of identity markers, the politics of difference and the more fluid complicated conceptualizations of identity that are in themselves tension-filled is difficult. Iris Marion Young (2000) usefully outlines a politics of difference that redefines the arguments about the failures “identity politics”. Identity politic, a term that Young asserts is “misleading,” reduces political movements that arise from  17  specificities of social group difference to assertions of group identity or mere self-regarding interest (pp. 102-103). This understanding of identity politics, Young suggests, relies on diminishing identification to essential characteristics or “one or more personal or social attributes which make the group what it is, shared by members of the group, and which clearly exclude others…. Individuals … belong to the groups in so far as they have the requisite attributes” (p. 87). Young questions those who employ essentialised definitions of identity, rather than employing a politics of difference. She argues that attempts to define the essential attributes of persons belonging to social groups fall prey to the problem that there always seem to be persons without the required attributes whom experience tends to include in the group or who identify with the group. The essentialist approach to defining social groups freezes the experienced fluidity of social relations by setting up rigid inside-outside distinctions among groups (pp. 87-88). What if, as Vadeboncoeur (2005) suggests, “what we see and hear and ‘know’ about ‘adolescents’ as a society, or nexus of industrialised societies, is more a function of social discourses, practices; and expectations than a function of the young people to whom we refer?” (p.5). That is, thinking through the constructions of those whom we call youth or adolescents, in conjunction with how those constructions are produced as social discourses and practices. Deborah Youdell (2010) moves this debate further still when she accepts the concerns of Vadeboncoeur and Young and notes that categories and social constructions are used and then re-used recursively. Utilizing the category of girl (it might well be youth, here), Youdell (2010) points to the complicated arguments that both refuse and reify that which one is attempting to disrupt,  18  stating: “The girl is inaugurated into subjecthood through gender discourse, but she must continually cite (be it tacitly or knowingly) the rules of this discourse if she is to remain intelligible as a subject” (p. 88). Youdell highlights the difficulty of refusal, arguing that we may “assert bodies and pleasures and refuse the binaries of penis/vagina, man/woman, hetero/homo, and yet prevailing discourse presses these upon us, like it or not” (p.88). Accordingly it is inevitable that there are both tensions between the use and refutation of identity constructions and the ongoing citationality and synchronous reification that the citationality engenders. Youdell (2010) again outlines the struggles in this theorizing as we refuse these subjectivities, but subject-hood is dependent on our intelligibility and so we might have to take them up; we might find them put on us; and we might be attached to them, politically, socially, relationally, psychically, orgasmically. Without these subjectivations, the unintelligibility that we face might be the black hole of annihilation . . . (p. 88). With this in mind, this dissertation rejects, problematizes and still employs the construction of “youth” as a “universal, stable, category” (Lesko and Talburt, 2012, p. 2) and particularly the category “youth” or “subjects in process” as employed for those perceived as “exclusions” or “failures (p. 2). The youth of this study both harken these constructions and discourses of youth, as well as advancing a discourses of youth as “interdisciplinary constructions with firm ties to economics, politics and social relations….(p. 2). Following this logic, the agency of youth is equally constructed and “research with youth does not support the position that young people blindly adopt and enact the discourses that are transmitted by adults. . .youth culture is itself a heterogeneous and generative social project” (Vadacaboer, 2005, p.16) The re-use of categories of youth, subject to multiple  19  solidifications and disturbances, points towards an invitation to disrupt the naturalizing of youth as category; similarly interrupting the romanticizing and naturalizing of other markers of identity. Queer Youth and Educational Spaces Numerous studies and decades of research consistently report those youths who identify as LGBTQ are at a greater risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, homelessness, and elevated levels of unexcused absences from school (Carragher, 2002; Foderaro, 2010; Hatzenbuehler, 2011; Higa et al., 2012; Russell, 2003). LGBTQ youth, most especially those who report instances of bullying, are at a higher risk for suicide, self-harm, and depression (Carroll, 2011). They are also more likely to end up homelessness and undertake sexually risky behaviours (Carragher, 2002; Rotheram-Borus, Rosario, & Rossem, 1995; Saewyc et al., 2007). The school climate for transgender students is even more difficult (Higa et al., 2012). Based on their recent survey, EGALE Canada finds that 95% of transgender participants feel that their school is unsafe (Taylor et al., 2009). For better or worse, the spate of teen suicides in the past decade has driven both media attention and research on LGBTQ suicide and suicidal ideation. There is compelling evidence that level of support felt by youth has a significant influence on the possibility of suicide. While many studies, including those discussed above, draw conclusions about suicide attempts and LGBTQ identities as well as harassment, Hatzenbuehler’s (2011) study is one of the first to look at the impact of a more supportive environment and its direct association with reduced suicide attempts. The study notes that the risk of attempting suicide for LGB youth is 20% less in supportive environments. Supportive environments are identified as school-level initiatives (antibullying policies and gay-straight alliances) and  20  environmental factors (higher numbers of same-sex couples and fewer self-identified political conservatives in a geographic area). In addition, Hatzenbuehler found that a supportive environment was linked to 9% fewer attempted suicides in heterosexual youth. Similarly, Ryan, Russell, Huebner, Diaz, and Sanchez (2010) report that supportive parental behaviours (which I would suggest is a component of a supportive environment, and includes advocating for ones LGBTQ children and actively supporting and accepting their gender expression) were associated with lower risk of depression, suicidality, and substance abuse. Half as many participants from highly accepting families reported suicidal thoughts compared with those who reported low acceptance (18.5% versus 38.3%). Similarly, the prevalence of suicide attempts among participants who reported high levels of family acceptance was nearly half the rate of those who reported family acceptance. Sexual risk behaviour was the only young-adult health indicator for which there was no strong association with family acceptance in adolescence. These studies point to the continuing need for research on LGBT youth and “risk factors”—specifically, research that explores what constitutes and builds a more supportive environment for LGBT youth and that highlights the lack of discussion in various education programs and at the level of community and familial support. As researchers, we need to be attentive to the various factors contributing to the realities of LGBTQ youth “at risk,” while at the same time complicating overly simplistic assumptions and pathologised notions of their real or perceived at-riskness. What is often left out of studies on LGBTQ youth is that the public identities of sexual-minority youth, and the way others characterise and understand them as individuals, are defined by their sexuality and level of gender conformity. These gendered and sexualized identities are, in turn, bound up with issues of such as race and class (Blackburn,  21  2005; McCready, 2004). In recent years, as “homosexuality” and now bullying have risen to the surface of public debate, there has been a substantive shift in educative approaches to addressing antihomophobia issues, as well as an increased willingness to acknowledge sexual diversity in our schools (Kumashiro, 2001; Luhmann, 1998; Rotheram-Borus, Hunter, & Rosario, 1994). While these moves are viewed as progressive and begin to address issues of homophobia (and, to a lesser degree, heteronormativity in schools and classrooms), the issue of gender remains largely unacknowledged. Not surprisingly, most studies of youth, sexuality, and gender have historically investigated gender in relation to binary understandings of masculinity and femininity (Connell, 2000; Gonick, 2003; Mac An Ghaill, 1994; MacLeod, 1995; Reed, 1999; Thorne, 1993) and (homo)sexual orientation as it relates to the schooling experiences of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and teachers (Due, 1995; Griffin, Lee, Waugh, & Beyer, 2004; Lund, 2004; Rofes, 1989; Savin-Williams, 2005). Rarely do these studies engage the intersections of gender and sexuality, and even more \uncommon still is the mention of heterosexual norms. Warner (1993) defines heteronormativity as . . . the normalizing processes which support heterosexuality as the elemental form of human association, as the very model of inter-gender relations, as the indivisible basis of all community, and as the means of reproduction without which society wouldn’t exist. (p. xxi) Accordingly, discussions of heteronormativity include highlighting the existence of, and interrupting silent assumptions about, heterosexuality as normal and homosexuality as “Other.” Warner argues that heteronormativity is ubiquitous, thereby maintaining the power  22  of heterosexuality as dominant and privileged—an assertion I would argue is particularly salient to the space of the classroom. Within schools, the isolation of topics—or supplementation mode of inclusion, often incorporated under a rubric of social justice, with a day for queers, a day for people of colour, and so on—(re)constructs classroom knowledges in a way that fails to question how that knowledge is being constructed. Britzman (2000) argues that the mere insertion of sexuality reinforces the manner in which the “curriculum structures modes of behavior and orientations to knowledge that are repetitions of the underlying structure and dynamics of education: compliance, conformity and the myth that knowledge cures” (p. 35). As a result, add-and-stir models do little to examine critically the content or confront the taken-for-granted information delivery of their programs. Instead, students and teachers are left with pedagogies of inclusion and “good intents.” Embedded in the logic of intent is a belief that education leads to “understanding” and that understanding provides the impetus to cease and desist the engagement of homophobic behaviour (Loutzenheiser, 2001). Accepting these concerns as valid begs the question of what might it look like to develop curricula and pedagogies that disrupt the heteronormative of the classroom. Is it important to be thinking about queer pedagogies or queering pedagogy, or is it possible that these formations, too, leave out as many youth as they include? Do film and new media offer a particular and productive way into the conversation? Queer youth culture, as well as youth culture more generally, has been traced along numerous cultural pathways to somewhat predictable outcomes and commonsense understandings (Bochenek & Brown, 2001; Gay Lesbian Straight Educators Network, 1999; Muñoz-Plaza, Quinn, & Rounds, 2002; Remafedi, Farrow, & Deisher, 1991; Russell, Bohan,  23  & Lilly, 2000; Slavin, 2000). Countercultural, rebellious, at-risk, resilient, and other attenuating categorizations are the regulatory means through which researchers attempt to make sense of the process of interpreting young peoples’ lives in the interstitial spaces of becoming and belonging (Blackburn, & McCready, 2009). As important as it is to uncover and acknowledge the numbers of youth negatively affected by their self-identified or perceived sexual-minority status in school, the results of this research can have unintentional and undesirable results. Undertheorised statistics and those stripped of context are often taken up by in the media, by educators, other institutional bodies, or used in well-intentioned antihomophobia discourses to position all sexual and gender minority youth as “at risk” (Rasmussen, 2006). As important as it is to uncover the numbers of students negatively impacted by their self-identified or perceived sexual minority status in school, the results of this research can have unintentional and undesirable results. This positioning places the burden of violence, ignorance, and abuse on the queer youth and not on the school culture, or on the actions of others. In addition to having the effect of classifying all queer youth as “at risk,” such generalizing discourses problematically negate all of those who are thriving, who embrace their sexuality and gender performances. Students themselves are often most interested in moving out of an at-risk model, desiring instead to affirm their subjectivity and assert their ability to take action. Butler’s work (1989, 1993) is usefully employed here because she reminds us that the possibility of understanding any identity as whole does not exist, and, just as there is no foundational, fixed understanding of what is encompassed within the category of gender, there is no “at-risk” or otherwise generic queer youth. Risk is a word that holds multiple meanings within different communities, depending  24  upon the context, disciplinary field, and scope of its application. Expressions like weighing the risk, limiting risk, and balancing risk point to the relationship of risk as one of power, and it is usually those institutions and individuals in a place of power and privilege that weigh, measure, limit, categorise, legislate, and assign “risk.” When we think about youth and the notion of risk, or being “at risk,” images of who these youth might be easily spring to mind: queer, gay, lesbian, and trans youth; aboriginal youth; economically disadvantaged youth; pregnant teens; new immigrants; Englishlanguage learners; foster kids; street-involved youth—the list goes on and on. These images are, of course, social constructions, with dominant culture their common architect. All of the categorizations I just mentioned fall outside of, or in some way challenge, normative boundaries whose shape and character are firmly embedded within our collective public imaginary. Thus, even though I don’t believe in the construction of the “at-risk” youth, I can conjure up a plethora of representative images, as I am sure all of my readers can. The fact that “at risk” is a discursive production does not negate the fact that many youth within these categorizations face a disproportionate number of barriers both in and out of school—and that poverty, gender, race, sexual identification create social and political vulnerabilities and inequities (Gadsden, Davis, & Artiles, 2009). I do argue, however, that wholesale categorizations of risk are too often wielded at queer bodies, bodies of color, and other marginalised, stereotyped, and disenfranchised bodies—by scholars, administrators, the media and other members of a believing and typically well-intended public. At best, these categorizations overlook—and, at worst, negate—the possibilities of action and reaction of youth and resilience of youth, as situated, partial and social constructed as they maybe, who thrive in the face of oppression, disenfranchisement, and marginalization.  25  In addition to having the effect of classifying all queer youth as “at risk,” such generalizing discourses problematically negate all of those who are thriving, who embrace their sexuality and gender performances. Students themselves are often most interested in moving out of an at-risk model, desiring instead to affirm their subjectivity and assert their ability to take action. It’s the Pedagogy, Stupid Common-sense understanding or a way of thinking about the concept of pedagogy is that it entails all of the ways in which educators teach. With this, educators and researchers often think we know what pedagogy means, but, like many other terms in education, it relies on its instrumentalism as a central support of the educational status quo. Simply stated, curriculum is what is taught, and pedagogy is the way said curriculum is delivered. Alternatively, Pinar (2006) argues that the “conjunction of curriculum with teaching” was an “historic mistake” (p. 110), as the conjunction made way for a social engineering of education that has demoted curriculum theories to that which is taught and the tricks by which teachers teach. This, in turn, has led to a wholesale means-ends relationship within education. This erroneous understanding reinforces traditional, instrumental, teacher-centred instruction that suggests that best practices that can be measured and tested lead to educational accountability, and that it is accountability that leads to change. Pinar goes on to argue that “[t]his is the political point of accountability, of course, to force teachers to force children . . . to accept ‘new’ norms” (p. 120). Usefully for a project interested in film and classroom pedagogical interventions, Ellsworth (1997) suggests that pedagogy is the space amongst and between teacher and student; it relies on a relational space, or mode of address. Mode of address originates in film studies, where it is  26  understood that in order for a film to work for its audience, in order for it to simply make sense to a viewer, . . .the viewer must enter into a particular relationship with the film’s story and image system”. (p. 23) In education, then, mode of address is the relation between the teacher, the student, and the many texts that make up teaching and learning. The power of address, then, is not the power to deliver on demand predicted and desired responses from students or audiences; it is not the power to locate students precisely on a map of desired social relations. It is, rather, the possibility within the spaces between teaching and learning that hold power in relation to modes of address. Ellsworth (1997) notes the importance of exploring the “space of difference between address and response” in education, noting that it is “formed and informed by historical conjunctures of power and of social and cultural difference” (p. 38). She understands schools’ and teachers jobs are “framed as one of neutralizing, eliminating, or distracting students from the differences between what a curriculum ‘says’ and what a student gets—or understands—and the volatile happenings in that space.” (p. 193). And this volatile space is the space of pedagogy that I am most interested. Neoliberalism Over the course of data generation and the analysis and writing of this dissertation, the political climate has altered in such a way to further warrant an analysis of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism and liberalism are political and conceptual terms that have become conflated, overused, and contested in their present use (Brown, 2003). Briefly, for the purposes of this introduction (and expanded upon in Chapter 3), I understand classic neoliberalism as “ the repudiation of Keynesian welfare state economics and the ascendance of the Chicago School  27  of political economy” (Brown, 2003, para. 3). Simultaneously, contemporary neoliberalism moves beyond the “radically free market” (para. 3) and “a bundle of economic policies with inadvertent political and social consequences” (para. 4) to a neoliberalism that: carries a social analysis which, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neoliberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; rather it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player. (para. 7) Brown’s distinction between the economic policies of liberalism and the “political rationality” (section 3) of neoliberalism is key for considering the consequences of neoliberalism in educational realms. As such, this form of neoliberal rationality sets the conditions of educational development and reform, marking it ready for a “frontal assault on the fundaments of liberal democracy, displacing its basic principles of constitutionalism, legal equality, political and civil liberty, political autonomy and universal inclusion with market criteria of cost/benefit ratios, efficiency, profitability, and efficacy” (Brown, 2010, para. 7). The impact on education can be seen in everything from school vouchers, highstakes testing, accountability measures, to—of particular import to this work—the clawingback of diversity or social-justice measures. This dissertation also takes up the idea that neoliberalism is understood as having moved well beyond its economic focus. As John Clarke (2004) also reminds us, “neoliberalism ought to be conceptualized as a set of strategies that should not be accepted as outcomes but as contested, uneven, contradictory, unfinished” (pp. 29–30).  28  Instead, neoliberalism, as many other theorists and researchers and I (Berlant, 2011; Brown, 2005; Dean, 2009; Duggan, 2002, 2003; Fraser & Bedford, 2008; Warner, 2002) argue, has become central to the process of normalization. Additionally, the regulation of queer bodies and their subsequent social and political articulations relate directly to neoliberal governance as “the means by which norms of behaviour are identified, encouraged and (re) produced within populations (Richardson, 2004). These processes are principal factors in my critiques of the structuration of identity within varying homophobia initiatives as articulated throughout this dissertation (see specifically pp. 72,118,148). As will be pointed out in the data chapters, teachers and youth view OIS as education moving against the pedagogical grain (Deirdre Kelly, personal communication, 2011). Herein may lie the promise of critique and refutations of neoliberal rationalities. Nuts and Bolts As with most large writing projects, the representation of a three-year project requires multiple decisions as one collects data, analyses it, reads and rereads theory, and finally—and perhaps most clearly—structures or lays out the written dissertation itself. The desire of this writer is to arrange this work in such a manner as to make cogent a set of arguments, question those very arguments along with the spaces of pedagogy, film and filmmaking, homophobia, and queerness and normativity. It is my hope that each chapter offers the reader multiple entry points to interrogate common-sense understandings and assumptions and the desire for them, and that there is room to ask appropriate questions of my data and analysis so that they may draw their own conclusions about the data, and about the issues that LGBTQ youth face.  29  Chapter 2, “Qualitative Groundings and Theoretical Extensions,” discusses and analyses the methodology and methods undertaken for this study, with a particular focus on the epistemologies that frame these methods and methodologies. I offer a description of the methods used in such a way that the reader can begin to perceive how the data are gathered and analysed, and is also privy to how I think about the epistemologies of research and the research processes for this project. This chapter opens with a discussion of Michael Burawoy’s extended case study and elucidates the ways in which this research both incorporates and expands upon the extended case study. Following this, concerns about representation are explored alongside descriptions of the methods used in data collection, and the chapter closes with a discussion of my strategies for data analysis, returning to tensions involved with voice and representation. Taken together, Chapters 3 through 5 constitute what Burawoy (1998b) identifies as structuration4—the social processes and social forces “that impress themselves on the ethnographic” (p. 15) and begin to reveal a pedagogical feedback loop within both youth film production and the larger discourse of antihomophobia education. Structuration, then, moves this work toward an analysis of these pedagogies. The third chapter of the dissertation seeks to outline the ways in which neoliberalism is present in schools and how antihomophobia pedagogies often feed into liberal notions of individualism and neoliberal manifestations of 4  This term is also attributed to the sociologist Anthony Giddens (1984), who suggests that  social processes are sustained and modified by human action, which in turn often leads to a reproduction of structures, or rules that inform action, as well as the systems of prevailing institutions. The rules, or rather individuals drawing upon the rules, according to Giddens, help to reinforce the systematic status quo. 30  responsibly. Youth perspectives on how homophobia are defined and understood within educational spaces, in addition to how interviewees perceive the climate at their respective schools in relation to homophobia, are presented. In order to help situate this conversation in the current social-cultural climate, I outline and analyse three mediating reactions and antihomophobia responses: (1) the It Gets Better project, (2) the Make it Better project and, (3) local reactions related to place. Examining the manner in which youth view homophobia and school climate, contextualized within the neoliberal moment, and current popular response grounds an analysis of how some youth perceive schools and how youth respond to homophobia and harassment. I suggest that antihomophobia discourses are problematic because their very focus on the individual and individual actions and reactions, as well as the assimilationist pull of the (homo)normativity in which its rhetoric is anchored, further reifies the very differences that antihomophobia pedagogies hope to erase. The chapter closes with the youth addressing themselves to educators and offering their own desires and suggestions for how schools might respond to the ongoing challenges and needs of all youth. Building on the previous chapter, Chapter 4, entitled “OIS in Action: Bridging Antihomophobia and Antiheterosexism Pedagogies,” moves to a discussion of the pedagogies and contents of Out in Schools presentations within high schools and community centres. Here, I begin the work of analysing how antihomophobia pedagogies and antihomophobia initiatives are pervasive and introduce the ways in which OIS attempts to work towards pedagogies that do more than advocate for assimilation. Starting a typical presentation day for OIS facilitators, this chapter describes and analyses how Out in School facilitations function in educative spaces, situated within the larger discourse of antihomophobia education. I offer an in-depth exploration of the pedagogical approach of  31  the presentations, analyse two films in selected detail, and investigate the role of film and student response. Through these analyses, I advance theories about a pedagogy that struggles against, reproduces, and maintains the dialogical limitations between students and educators. The last data chapter, Chapter 5, “Youth, Film, and Futurity: Queer Persistence and Utopia” moves the discussion from what is occurring in formal school settings to how antihomophobia and heterosexism are understood within informal spaces of youth media production. Within descriptions and analyses of the No Hate youth film-production process, this chapter situates queer youth and their narratives historically and discursively and explores the tension between existing antihomophobic discourses and a desire for antiheteronormative initiatives. OIS boot camp and youth film production, as rich sites of pedagogical feedback about antihomophobia pedagogy, are explored. The last part of the chapter works to synthesize the previous chapters through an investigation of the future of queerness within educational discourse and the building of theory that advances a notion of futurity (Bruhm & Hurley, 2004b; Bryson & MacIntosh, 2010; Mayo, 2006; Muñoz, 2009; Tuhkanen, 2009). Film is used to frame a queer interpretation of youth voice and its contribution to a queer education landscape that offers a counterpoint to the current climate of political desolation and/or celebratory postqueer narratives (Savin-Williams, 2005). The concluding chapter offers an overall analysis of the major findings of the study, offering some intentionally fragmentary conclusions. From there I discuss the specific significance and implications of the study for youth, teachers, policymakers, and teacher educators. As with every study, this one has limitations, and here I lay out the restraints and limits particular to this research. Lastly, I begin to outline possible future directions for this work.  32  Chapter 2 Qualitative Groundings and Theoretical Extensions Theory is not something stored up in the academy but itself becomes an intervention into the world it seeks to comprehend. —Michael Burawoy (1998b, p. 225)  We can never leave all our prejudices behind and operate from a wholly disinterested standpoint, but our prejudices become dangerous only when they are dogmatic, kept hidden from view and not open to discussion. —Loni Hern Haber (1994, p. 17)  As noted in the introductory chapter, my goal in this research project is to extend a set of critical arguments about queerness, media, and queer politics relevant to the current pedagogical moment by utilizing a qualitative research methodology. That said, this is a theoretical project advanced by qualitative means; fieldwork and data generation are key components in a project addressing the pedagogical, conceptual, and political processes of antihomophobia education. Like many contemporary qualitative researchers (Gallagher, 2010; Snow, Morrill, & Anderson, 2003; Somerville, 2008), I am striving to develop a methodology that balances the ethical needs and interpretive demands of qualitative research while still anchoring my 33  chosen methodological base in complex theoretical explorations. I approach this qualitative project with the intention of creating a set of cultural representations through the perspectives of research participants read through specific theoretical frames (which were described in Chapter 1). In short, I have endeavoured to find a methodology that not only makes room for theory but also recognizes the interplay between theoretical paradigms and the ethnographic process. This chapter seeks to outline my methodological journey in the dissertation, linking the method to methodology and methodology to theory. With that in mind, the chapter begins with an overview of how Michael Burawoy’s extended case method (1998b, 2009) is employed and augmented as the key methodology for this research. Following the discussion of extended case method, the epistemological underpinnings of the study and my analytical frames are introduced with a short discussion of, to borrow from Lather, “getting lost.” My entrance to the “field” and the various research settings with OIS are then traced. Returning to getting lost, I briefly sketch out how I am constructing the knowledge of this research and my understanding of researcher reflexivity and, lastly, the impact of these constructions on this project. I revisit reflexivity and positionality in my consideration of my role as researcher and community activist within Out in Schools (OIS) and Out on Screen (its parent organization). Finally, I frame my process of data analysis. Burawoy (2009) argues that “we need to begin with theory if we are to end with theory” (248). The chapter layout employs some of the folding-in of this study’s theoretical and epistemological base as exemplar of the space Burawoy suggests researchers inhabit. Burawoy and the Extended Case Method While I was influenced by a number of methodological systems of inquiry throughout  34  the course of this research, I returned most often to Burawoy’s (1998b, 2009) extended case method, which serves as the central methodological influence for this project. For the purposes of this research, I build on and extend Burawoy’s notion of the ethnographic as participant-driven research framed within the reflexive “science” of a world observed, rather than more traditional notions of ethnographic research (Davidson, 1996; MacLeod, 1995). The observed world of which I speak is understood as socially constructed and discursively produced (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Foucault, 1977). While this research involved shadowing OIS facilitators for two years over 28 facilitations, and interviews with more than two dozen youth, this project is not a formal ethnography; rather, it draws upon ethnographic methods. Eisenhart (2001), citing many of the major educational ethnographers, notes that “standard ethnographic methods include participant observation, face-to-face interviewing, researcher reflection/journaling, and analysis of archival records” (p. 18), all of which I engage in this research. However, Eisenhart (2001) further notes that these elements are the mainstays of ethnographic methods, and they depend fundamentally on firsthand, personal involvement in the lives of people who are being studied. . . Analysis of the data focuses on the identification of regular patterns of action and talk that characterize a group of people. (p.18) This project is an extended set of observations involving both youth and adult participants in a number of different social and institutional contexts. While theory remained critical to guiding the direction of my data generation, it was important to allow the research components, namely the pedagogies employed by OIS, and the participants themselves to have an identifiable presence. This resulted in interviews (both individual and group) across a wide variety of youth and locales, moving in and out collecting and generating moments of  35  knowledge and data rather than laying claim to any singular space of authenticity. However, I was not involved in an ongoing and recursive engagement with the professional or personal lives of the majority of the participants. The exception to this would be the staff of OIS; however, they were not the focus of my study or analysis. Neither is this project a multi-sited ethnography, as might easily be assumed, given the multiple locales in which the data generation occurred. A multi-site ethnography has, according to Marcus (1995), “a comparative dimension that is integral to it, in the form of juxtapositions of phenomena that conventionally have appeared to be (or conceptually have been kept) ‘worlds apart’” (p. 102). The theoretical and conceptual issues, or phenomena, engaged through this research—namely, gender and queer theories, antihomophobia education, and queer representation—are intimately linked. And, while comparisons are made, the comparisons emerged after data generation, as opposed to being a methodological condition of the data generation. A methodological element I do draw from multi-site ethnography is “a desire to trace the social correlates and groundings of associations” (Marcus, 1995, p. 108) within media, specifically youth media production. However, multisite ethnography requires that the researcher establish “some form of literal, physical presence, with an explicit, posited logic of association or connection among sites that in fact defines the argument of the ethnography” (p. 105). While my positionality was stated (discussed below), my presence as a researcher and my connections to the various locales are not integral to defining the research argument, though certainly my presence was an abiding influence throughout. Although Burawoy (and the more traditionally Marxist and critical sociological traditions from which he emanates and within which he works) appear to be incongruent with  36  the more poststructural elements of my theoretical leanings, the basic tenets of Burawoy’s approach and the centrality of theory to his research process make the extended case method a useful and highly applicable methodological orientation for my work. The extended case method allows for the identification of the generalizable, albeit limited (Lather, 1986), within ethnographic work (Burawoy, 1998b). Theory is the a priori starting point for the extended case method (Tavory & Timmermans, 2009). Unlike grounded theory, wherein the aim of the research “is ultimately to build a theoretical explanation by specifying phenomena in terms of conditions that give rise to them” (Corbin & Strauss, 1990, p. 9), the extended case method begins from a place of theory, brings its theoretical underpinning to the research site, and connects these theoretical positions to the interview and observation process. The theory does not emerge as a result of the research but is an integral component of the research process, underscoring the researcher’s interactions with participants and shaping the data generation and investigative analysis. In Burawoy’s (1998b) own words, “we begin with our favorite theory but seek not confirmations but refutations that inspire us to deepen that theory. Instead of discovering grounded theory we elaborate existing theory” (p. 16). Thus, theories can be strengthened and refuted, and certainly new theoretical assertions can emerge within the analysis, but the researcher begins from and acknowledges a theoretically grounded point of origin. In particular it offers this project the analytical tools “to move from the ‘micro’ to the ‘macro,’ and to connect the present to the past in anticipation of the future” (Burawoy, 1998b). In this project specifically, an extended case study allows me to move from more generalizable suppositions of queer theory and politics to the specific elements and pedagogical manifestations of antihomophobia education identifiable within youth narrative and film production, facilitating the advancement of new theoretical  37  futurities. Employing the general principles of Burawoy’s reflexive “science,” I began by locating myself in queer theory, moving to the first stage of Burawoy’s model: intervention. Although Burawoy does not elaborate on, or theorise in any great detail about, the intervention, this first “context effect”5 is, I believe, central to his larger methodological framework and to his view of the relationship between researcher and participant. For Burawoy (1989b), intervention—which is essentially the interview process—elucidates the dialogic nature of the interview and the act of social observation, forefronting once again the importance of theory within this reflexive research exchange: Dialogue is the unifying principle of reflexive science. It is dialogical in each of its four dimensions. It calls for intervention of the observer in the life of the participant; it demands an analysis of interaction within social situations; it uncovers local processes in a relation of mutual determination with external social forces; and it regards theory as emerging not only in dialogue between participant and observer, but also among observers now viewed as participants in a scientific community. Theories do not spring tabula rasa from the data but are carried forward through intellectual debate and division. (p. 16) The data generation informs Burawoy’s second context effect, which is an analysis of social 5  Context effect is a term Burawoy (1998a) uses to refer to a reflexivity particular to the  extended case method. Context effects account for, or mark, the uncontrollable elements and power differentials at work in the qualitative research process, which limit the predictability of the research outcome. Burawoy views context effects as a way to bring together elements of both positive and reflexive science into what he calls a “methodological duality.” 38  processes referred to simply as process. At this stage, Burawoy’s methodology attempts to account for the “continual flux” of situational knowledge and the temporal and spatial specificity in which the researcher and participant, or participants, are operating. Acknowledging the complex and contextually specific circumstances in which the interview takes place, and in which all parties are operating, allows the researcher to elucidate the situational and subjective nature of knowledge production. Accordingly, extended case study permitted me to consider the aggregate data that occur during the course of the interview, the “nondiscursive, that is the unexplicated, unacknowledged, or tacit knowledge, sometimes referred to as practical consciousness, which underlies all social interaction” (Burawoy, 1998b, p. 15). Because this research involved a large number of youth participants, developing a methodology that allowed me to interpret aggregate data was essential. The silences that pepper many of the interviews, the interactions of filmmakers with each other and with their adult mentors during the film boot camps—and the body language and performative excesses—provide a wealth of data, all of which informed my articulations of observations about the social processes at work during research encounters. From here the research moved to what Burawoy calls the context of structuration, by which he means the situational specificity of the social forces at work, those external stimuli pressing upon the data, and over which the individual participants and the researcher have little control. These stimuli affect the data both at its point of origin—the local context in which it is generated—but also include the (inter)play of broader social forces upon multiple locales. In other words, structuration allows the researcher to account for both the world outside the interview and the context in which the interview takes place. It reminded me to  39  look beyond the individual narrative and to consider the dominant ideological forces, and the social, cultural, and historical contingencies at work in the everyday, both in the processes of data generation and data analysis in and out of the field. Moving lastly to the context, aptly called reconstruction, Burawoy returns to theory and a rethinking of the theory through a set of generalities and contradictions observed in the data. Burawoy (1998b) refers to this as “a more inclusive generality,” the analysis of which serves to deepen the theory (p. 16). The process of reconstruction requires that the research be open to both an enrichment of existing theories or complete refutation and potential abandonment of the existing theory in lieu of something new. In the case of this research, it allows me to bring my own knowledge of queer theory, and my own knowledge production as a queer theorist, into conversation with the participants’ knowledge of queer theory or lack thereof. Bearing in mind the second context effect identified by Burawoy, restructuration accounts for the temporality of queer theory and politics, bringing the historical and the quotidian into conversation across a specific set of generalities identified by the researcher and generated out of the data. This, in turn, encourages an exploration of the failures of antihomophobia discourses, as well as queer theories. In sum, the centrality of theory to the extended case method generates both the possibility of theoretical affirmations and the potential for the research and subsequent data generation to question and identify potential flaws and contradictions in the theoretical frame. Thus, I am able to employ various queer, political, and educational theories and work within the potentially conflicting theoretical paradigms they offer. As theoretical scaffolding, these seemingly divergent theories coalesce in ways that highlight the temporal mobility of queer life and politics, and they shed light on the complex social and political  40  dynamics of the Canadian cultural context and the social and institutional specificity of antihomophobia education. The interplay of theory also reflects the complex dynamics of the research process and reminds me, as a researcher, of the fragmented nature of truth, interpretation, and representation. In the opening quotation, Burawoy suggests that theory is not isolated from the data but is a deeply embedded component of field research; be it refuted, restructured, or reaffirmed, theory informs both data generation and the interpretive processes. Following Burawoy (2009) I have assumed in this project that theory is a “precondition” of the research process and of the social sciences more generally (p. 13). “Productive Disorientation” While the linearity of the narrative within a traditional social-science ethnographic model is problematic, many researchers have attempted to disrupt the linear predictability of qualitative engagement and the oftentimes-aggregate nature of the qualitative project through the use of multiple data sources (Morrell, 2004). The stories told by the ethnographer rely on the narrative’s recognizability and an appealing flow. What might it mean to disrupt such recognizability? Elements of ethnographic partiality and uncertainty make the work of scholars like Ernest Morrell (2004), Julie Bettie (2003), Donna Deyhle (2009), and Amy Best (2007) attractive as methodological models. Their work is attentive to that which is critical but also reveals the partiality and pitfalls of the ethnographic narrative, an account that has traditionally relied upon the idea of wholeness, or the totality of parts made whole, and at times the gaze of a researcher from a dominant or normative social order (Clifford, 1986; Deyhle, 2009). These researchers offer models of partiality that I hope to incorporate within the spectrum of the critical and extend it toward Lather’s desire to explore that which is beyond our knowing. Lather (2009) asks “how giving weight to the what-is-there beyond  41  our knowing of it might reshape our practices of inquiry” (p. 226). In part, I want this work to reflect the vital incompleteness and unfinished edges of research, to willingly take up what Lather (2006) refers to as “getting lost,” a research practice that embraces “a disorientation where openness and unknowingness are part of the process” (p. 5). I am arguing here that Lather’s “getting lost” is a move toward a productive disorientation that marks the data generation and analyses of this project. The process was ultimately and necessarily incomplete but entailed my own invitation toward recursive reflexivity, a repetitive questioning of what was missing and the paths taken, whilst attempting to invite the possibility of moving toward data generations (1998, ), and analyses and inquiry that remains less determined. 6 Entering the Field In the fall of 2006, I was invited to join the newly established advisory board of OIS. Ross Johnstone7 was beginning his second year as director of the OIS program. Ross told me that I was being asked to join because I had written about and worked as an advocate for antihomophobia education and queer youth. In addition, I was connected to UBC and there 6  It is worth nothing that the processes of disorientation are difficult to represent and write  into a dissertation anchored in social science, which to some degree, demands concretized findings. This work is not an exercise in findings, answers, or Truths. I would argue, rather, that I am able to make some claims, grounded by analysis, and to whatever degree possible, demonstrated through theory and data. 7  While the youth I interviewed were asked to select pseudonyms to foster confidentiality,  each adult was offered the choice of using a real name or selecting a pseudonym. All of the adults choose to use their own names. 42  was a desire within OIS to further its connection with the university, as there was a single UBC faculty member involved. At that time, OIS had just completed its first full year of programming. The people involved expressed a desire to expand the program and were, at that time, focused on developing a web presence and a formal curricular package. It became apparent to me at this first meeting that OIS was a space where my interests in media, youth and antihomophobia coalesced. By apparent, I mean that OIS’s presence as an independent nonprofit forging a space within in the public school system for antihomophobia education, and in so doing filling a curricular gap, was intriguing to me. This pedagogical gap, or lack, resonated quite strongly with something I had identified in my master’s research on gaystraight alliances (MacIntosh, 2004), and working with OIS was a logical extension of my interest in the educational concerns of queer youth and my commitment to engage with queer issues in educational spaces. The curricular advisory consisted of teachers, students, graduate students, an education faculty member, and youth members, all of whom were consulting at some level, from an educational perspective, offering direction on the design of OIS’s curricular development. OIS envisioned a curricular toolbox that could be provided to middle and secondary schools that would allow the schools to engage independently in some of the same curricula that OIS was delivering. The curricular package was delivered to every school in the Vancouver School Board in early 2010 and has been sent to over 50 other schools across the province. The first time I attended an OIS facilitation at a secondary school, it’s message resonated with youth in a way I had not seen before, particularly in the context of a one-off  43  program.8 That is, the connection, or resonance, was evident in the level of engagement and in the questions that were being raised by the youth themselves. Not only were youth asking questions of the facilitator; they also seemed also to be actively listening to the facilitator and their peers. The majority of the youth audience appeared to be attentive—or as attentive as teenagers can be around a topic that can make them uncomfortable or that they are unfamiliar with discussing. Those youth who were actively attempting to disengage did not seem bored (no yawning, fidgeting, talking to neighbour) but, rather, were resistant to the content being offered and clear in expressing their discomfort (arms crossed, eyes rolling, et cetera) with the topic being discussed. The resistance itself seemed to be evidence of OIS’s ability to reach youth at a level that occupied their attention, even if it inevitably resulted in a type of resistance. Knowledge, Power, and Researcher Reflexivity Returning again to Lather’s (2008) notion of getting lost, one of the more substantive challenges in writing this dissertation is that of embracing theoretical disorientation, of “getting lost as a way to move out of commanding, controlling, mastery discourses, and into a knowledge that recognizes the inevitable blind spots of our knowing” (p. 225). While I 8  By one-off, I am referring to programs that enter public-school or community educational  spaces presenting a one-time presentation without classroom follow-up by the presenters. The desire by most community organizations is that follow-up is undertaken by classroom teachers or group leaders; however, often there is no follow-up and youth do not have opportunities to extend the one-time exposure. This raises both pedagogical and institutional concerns in relation to recursive engagement with and critical discussions about LGBT issues. 44  take Lather’s point, and, as previously stated, I embrace the notion of getting lost as a methodological stance, I acknowledge the impossibility of exceeding or moving beyond mastery discourses that form the bedrock of my own knowledge production, nor can I avoid looking through the interpretive lens that they form. That said, qualitative research requires the constant negotiation of one’s constitutive assumptions and theoretical positioning. While it is not possible to divest myself of my scholarly interests or to temporarily suspend their influence, here I attempt to make the sphere of their influence transparent within the research process. Simply put, I remain acutely aware of the limits imposed by the inescapability of my own position as an out queer scholar invested in the body of work called queer theory. As Davies (2004) articulates, “‘data’ do not stand as transparent evidence of that which is real. Neither are they homologous with something that is real” (p. 4). The data in this text do not stand alone, nor can they be understood as truth, or Truth. The recorded participant narratives have been shaped in multiple ways by research design and the interpretive process. As Dehli (2008) argues, “as qualitative researchers, no matter how committed we are to critical practices and emancipatory politics [we] are implicated in practices of power, whose dimensions and effects we cannot completely grasp” (p. 47). Additionally, the participants’ relationship to their own narratives and the narratives themselves are shaped by the intervention of having been observed and prompted by the researcher. I have endeavored, whenever possible, to account for the synergistic relations of the field, but the subjective nature of interpretation and the power dynamics of the researcherparticipant model are at best mitigated by my fragmentary awareness and, at worst, amplified by subjective omissions. Here Burawoy’s (1998b) caution—that “no claims to ‘impartiality’  45  can release us from either the dilemmas of being part of the world we study or from the unintended consequences of what we write” (p. 17)—serves as a useful reminder of my imprint as a researcher on the data I assemble or generate. Here, too, I find Dehli’s (2008) interpretation of methodology itself as a form of “governmentality” in the Foucaudian sense—wherein power–knowledge relations are engaged in particular ways, producing its own set of conditions, rules, constraints and possibilities—useful to consider. I will return to the role of reflexivity to this project below when outlining the multiple spaces I occupy in OIS and Out on Screen. Project Design I employed several methods of empirical investigation—namely, individual interviews, group interviews, film analysis, and participant-observation. I conducted 26 individual interviews, which occurred both in person and online; one focus group; and 22 observations at eight separate high schools, middle schools, and community center locations. I also functioned as a workshop assistant during three No Hate youth video-making workshops. Other data sources include 84 individual short-answer feedback forms and 22 group short-answer feedback forms written by youth who attend OIS workshops, as well as 19 individual feedback essay assignments and 21 group reflection assignments that were written at the behest of classroom teachers following presentations. Although I do not include a large portion of the feedback in this work, my reading of the feedback confirmed much of what I gleaned in the interviews and gives greater depth to my reading of OIS.  46  The Interviews The interview is a social context, embedded in other contexts, all of which lend meaning to and are independent of the question itself. —Michael Burawoy (1998b, p. 12.) The majority of the data for this study involves in-depth, face-to-face individual interviews. Interviews were selected as a main method for this particular research project because of the desire to include and forefront youth voices, particularly the voices of sexualand gender-minority youth at the forefront of media production, and those youth on whose behalf antihomophobia education is taken up. Queer voices, and queer youth voices in particular, are often absent from the field of educational research and work on antihomophobia. This is particularly problematic given that queer youth are the focus of research. They are the bodies on which the scripts of antihomophobia have been written and whose identities have been taken up as discourses of victimization, at-riskness, or success story—and for whom a platform to speak back to or about homophobia is rarely given (MacIntosh, 2007; Talburt, 2004a). This desire for the inclusion of youth perspectives is not, however, a call for an emancipatory, experience-laden voice that leads to the Truth (Ellsworth, 1992;Gore, 1992; Orner, 1992). My desire, here, has been to think through the use of youth voice and voices in a 2012 milieu, in light of earlier work. I am suggesting that it is possible to question a holistic, ‘authentic’ or simple realist “voice” that earlier theorists so ably critique, while still attempting to acknowledge that the participants have voices. Their voices, while mediated through mine, offer a representation of their beliefs, thoughts and understandings at the 47  moment that the interview or observation occurred, however partial. One might conceptualize this use of voice as “uncanny” voice; uncanny being understood here as “the discomforting return of the silenced familiar” (Youdell, 2010, p. 87). Youdell goes on to suggest that “we cannot escape subjectivations that constitute abiding and authentic sexualised subjects, we cannot fully ‘know’ these subjects/ourselves or the effects of their/our own practices, affectivities or psychic processes” (p. 88). Yet, even though we cannot “know” we still work with the perspectives and understandings of participants (and researcher). The utilization of voice(s) is a call to include the multiple perspectives of those who are constructed as youth and create multifaceted, complicated and even usefully contradictory counterparts to those constructions. This usage refutes the possibility of universal youth voice and recognizes that there is a “crucial distinction between false claims to immediate knowledge and more or less accurate (fallible), mediated descriptions of the world" (Hames-Garcia, 2000, p. 117). The decision to use an interview-based research protocol was based on a desire to hear what youth had to say in their own words about their experiences of antihomophobia education and media production. Unlike Kvale & Brinkman (2009), who assert a belief in the interview process as one that “gives voice” to the interviewee allowing them to “freely present their life situations” (p. 481), I hold no belief in traditional definitions of objectivity in the interview process or in the autonomy of voice. Similarly, Fusco (2008) asserts, whenever “‘experience’ is valorized as true representation of reality and the individual is presumed to be the origin of knowledge, the ideological systems about rationality, universality, and autonomy are reproduced rather than contested” (p. 167). In entering the interview process, I followed the cautionary lead of feminist ethnographers such as Judith  48  Stacey (1988), who critically addresses the relationship between researcher and informant, with a particular focus on the inequities of the researcher-participant relationship. Stacey contends, and I would agree, that there can never be a truly feminist ethnographic approach, because there is no way to successfully address the imbalance of power and the resulting inequities that develop between researchers and the researched. Upon securing informed consent from parents and guardians and the interview candidates where necessary and having discussed the method of documentation and issues of confidentiality with participants, I proceeded with the interviews. As mentioned above, I conducted a total of 26 individual interviews. Of these, one interview took place online via Skype; the remaining 25 were face to face. These interviews ranged from 20 to 94 minutes in length. The group interview lasted 90 minutes, including film screenings. The structure of the focus group followed the format of the individual interviews in terms of presenting the participants with several guiding questions. As Halquist and Musanti (2010) note, probing questions provided a frame through which the participants and I could consider the incident as we engaged in a collaborative viewing and discussion of the film while scrutinizing the incident involved a process of deconstructing the students “utterances into different layers of meaning while contrasting the findings with other patterns detected across data” such as student writings, field notes, and individual interviews (p. 456). As is often the case with focus-group discussions, the conversation was much more diverse and less targeted because of the multiplicity of voices. Interview transcripts and select youth-produced films and other short-form media (public service announcements, or PSAs) from the OIS curricular archive were analysed for content and common themes pertinent to the research focus; these themes include  49  representations or interpretations of homophobia, difference, antihomophobic discourse, queerness, and discussions of heteronormativity. The individual interview structure that I used was attentive to individual participants’ desires and perspectives and left open the possibility of a diversity of responses to questions and format. In the format traditional to the open-ended interview, I invited interviewees (participants) to respond to a series of prompting questions intended to reveal their opinions on particular subjects. What, for example, was their expectation, if any, of antihomophobia seminars? The focus group arose when I was invited to present an OIS facilitation at a local youth group with the knowledge by the group that this was part of my doctoral research. The youth worker was happy to have me attend and also to use the discussion time to talk about the films that I showed and also offer a much more wide-ranging opportunity to discuss what it means to this queer and allied youth to be youth in public school in their less urban area. The data collected from this focus group was somewhat different but thematically quite in line with the conversations with other youth who attend OIS screens and youth filmmakers. I digitally recorded all interviews and the focus group, which were subsequently transcribed. I asked the transcriptionist to sign a nondisclosure agreement. All transcripts were transcribed verbatim. As will be further discussed below, I analysed the transcripts and coded for emerging themes. I reviewed the transcripts with participants in groups, a process that aided in my refinement and development of the coding process as I advanced my analysis. I engaged in preliminary analysis of data during the data-generation phase of the study, as a review of each interview allowed for a honing and sharpening of questions for the next interview, while helping me to maintain a thematic consistency throughout.  50  Field Notes I recorded field notes in small notebooks while observing OIS facilitations in various classroom and educational settings and OIS film boot camps, and while conducting my own film screening at a drop-in center for queer identified and allied youth. Additional field notes were recorded at Out on Screen and OIS meetings, as well as after each interview and focus group. The term field notes is used differently and varies in its use from researcher to researcher (Walford, 2009). My field notes were used to document the aggregate data observed during facilitations and outside the scope of the formal interview, such as body language, patterns in the questions posed by youth, patterns in the facilitations and facilitator delivery, and divergences from the typical OIS facilitation script. Details such as who attended, manner, setting, and overall impressions were also recorded. In retrospect, perhaps the most significant use of field observations, measured in terms of the generative data extracted from the texts produced, was the running record of my own evolving thoughts and responses to the research process. I used field notes for early analysis, denoted by bracketed thoughts and free writing within the field notes themselves, to record impressions, themes and connections that I thought I was seeing or that I wanted to follow up on in greater depth and theoretical specificity at a later date. These were helpful as the research progressed, as I was able to refer to earlier notes in order to compare and contrast my impressions and subsequently build on the theoretical currents of my research (Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw, 1995). Similarly, these notes were useful as I began to code the interviews, assisting me to fill in the context gaps, while the reflective notes and sidebar questions that I recorded before and after the interview added another layer to the interview process and provided greater transparency in my own voice during the analysis.  51  In addition to shadowing facilitators and conducting interviews, I also intended to utilize the newly created OIS website for data collection which they were developing just as OIS was beginning its curriculum development. The vision here was that of establishing an interactive online presence that would act as a pedagogical extension of the program for youth, a place where youth who had experienced facilitations would come together, discover and share resources and build community. My own vision was to utilize OIS’s web presence to investigate the ways in which youth were interpreting and reproducing or potentially challenging gender norms in mediated environments. OIS seemed like the perfect site from which to begin this work. I waited a year for the website and online environment to launch, continuing all along the way to work on the advisory board. I had envisioned that this portion of the OIS program would take off, yet, much to my surprise, it did not. When the site did eventually launch, it was far less interactive then OIS had initially planned, largely because of resource limitations. The technical limitations of the site were secondary, however, to its failure to attract an audience. Youth were not going to the site, they were not engaging with OIS beyond singular exposures during school or community-center presentations, and they were not commenting on the films or engaging in dialogue with each other online. OIS had built it, but the youth did not come. Soon thereafter, I became aware that OIS was also committed to, and piloting, a program to advance youth media production. Working in collaboration with the Pacific Cinematheque, they were accepting applications to their program to mentor an aspiring youth filmmaker and sponsor this individual in the production of their first short format film. The idea was part of OIS’s commitment to incorporating youth voice. The media produced was intended to be absorbed into the OIS curriculum, and thus OIS would circulate not just films  52  that had been taken from the annual queer film festival but films that were associated with the program itself. This cycle of knowledge production, the educative force of peer-to-peer media production, and the pedagogical flow of youth voice all piqued my scholarly interest and led me to add participant observation of the No Hate video workshops to the research project. During these weeklong workshops for youth, which are carefully outlined and analysed in Chapter 5, I functioned as both researcher and a kind of workshop aide. This meant that I attended each day, helped with set-up, helped workshop leaders in brainstorming with groups, facilitated the construction and creation of the short videos, and generally helped the students accomplish whatever they hoped to in that period of time. The Films The films that OIS uses within their presentations—and, indeed, the films that youth created in the No Hate boot camp—are front and centre within this research, both as vehicle for examining the messaging of antihomophobia issues in educational settings and as exemplar of youth-directed knowledge production and the impact of such works on both those youth who created them and those who watched them. The films are chosen by the OIS facilitator (and throughout most of this research that decision fell to Ross Johnstone, the education director). Each time a film was used in a facilitation, it was selected for the way in which it might match the community in which it was being shown or be of particular interest to that community due to ethnic, racial, or other known or identifiable demographics. The films that I choose to analyse in this representation of the research are highlighted because they were often screened at the facilitations I attended, and they were the films that seemed to resonate with youth based on audience response, measured in terms of questions asked and  53  level of engagement during the film—applause, laughing, giggling, heckling, booing, and so forth. A Mutual Exchange In 2009, about six months after gaining approval from OIS and UBC to begin the project, and after I had been both conducting research interviews and volunteering with the organization, the Out On Screen board chair approached me to ask about my interest in applying to fill one of the board of director vacancies. This meant I would sit on the board of OIS’s parent organization. The implications for me as a researcher were numerous, but the opportunity for me as a scholar and a member of the queer community meant that I had to consider the invitation. I told the chair that I was writing my dissertation and that I had concerns about conflicts about decisions made about OIS. I contacted my supervisor to seek advice. After a week of careful deliberation, I accepted the offer to put my name forward, and I joined the board two weeks later. At my nomination, I stated that I was a doctoral candidate conducting research involving OIS and that, as a sitting board member, I would ask to recuse myself from voting situations and other deliberative tasks that involved OIS. In the time I have been both board member and researcher, there has only been one instance where I felt the need to abstain from the decision-making process, and I did so without hesitation. My initial apprehension as a researcher was less about being compromised around maintaining the integrity of research ethics, for those were clear in my mind. Rather, I was concerned about being able to set aside my vested interest in the OIS program as a researcher in order to serve as a board member responsible for decisions affecting the programs as a whole. The ability to make decisions as a board member of Out on Screen has, undeniably, been colored by my ongoing commitment to OIS, but my commitment and my bias has been  54  welcomed by the board and the executive director of Out on Screen, all of whom see it as an asset that fuels my commitment as a whole. All of the board members are actively committed to some component of Out on Screen and its subsidiary programs, and each bring their lived, multiple and intersecting lived realities to the table. As board members, we are all multiply biased, but we share in the recognition that we are all also stakeholders in the viability and health of the queer community and as such must navigate and negotiate our biases. With all of the above in mind, it would be impossible to lay out my own positionality in such a manner as to “make my role clear” or to offer the reader a finite accounting of how who I am affects this work. Yet, harking back to Scott (1991), whose iconic essay calls for researchers to both historicize and account for their experience, I cannot ignore the intersections of my life, including my position as a board member and my research with OIS. Alternative researcher positions, for example the notion of insider and outsider (Pillow, 2003), or even outsider within (Collins, 1991), rely on a solidifying of researcher identity concerning who it is that is considered inside or outside, and I want to refuse. With that, I also acknowledge that my relationships within queer communities and as part of Out on Screen, and my dual role as both contributor and researcher of OIS hold both opportunity and challenge to the work. Much is tempered, if not abated, by my refusal of an objectivity that demands an integrated accounting of how my identities and experiences coalesce or deviate with those with whom I am researching. All researchers impact the fields within which they work, and none, no matter how objective they wish to appear, bring biases and assumptions to the project. At the end of the day, I am confident in using a combination of methods informed by these feminist methodological insights that honour my own desire “to  55  conscientiously report on aspects of social life that matters most to . . . and also remains resolute in privileging (inter)subjectivity(ies) over objectivity, dialogue over monologue, and rich description over dogmatic explanation” (Berry & Warren, 2009, p. 604). The role of researcher and board member could be construed as ethically and analytically fraught. However, I argue that it brings into focus the ever-present burden of personal bias, against which all researchers inevitably rub up in relation to fieldwork. Guba and Lincoln (2008) assert that “reflexivity . . . demands that we interrogate each of our selves regarding the ways in which research efforts are shaped and staged around the binaries, contradictions, and paradoxes that form our own lives” (p. 239). I start from the assumption that researchers do not, and cannot, enter the field as tabula rasa and that objectivity is neither possible nor a goal of my work. Whilst I reject the notion of objectivity in research, namely that one can somehow work outside of, or see beyond, the subjective boundaries in which the research design, process, and analysis is formed, I acknowledge and am attentive to its subtle persistence. Additionally, in questioning objectivity I am made more keenly aware of the power dynamics at play in the research process, and the ongoing importance of recursive researcher reflexivity. This reflexivity is one that I attempt to make more transparent throughout this work. With this in mind, I had one issue left to address. I discussed the possibility with both the executive director and Ross Johnstone, OIS educational director, that in the course of my research I might have unfavorable things to say about the program, and that it was quite probable that I would critique elements of the program. This process served to remind me, as a researcher and throughout the course of the research, of the need to be attentive to the criticality of my analyses and question my own preliminary and final conclusions more  56  thoroughly than I might otherwise. This is not to suggest an ability to circumvent or overcome bias but to be as mindful and as transparent as possible about any bias that does exist. Secondly, my dual role as researcher and board member has effectively opened the lines of communication with OIS around the purpose of my research—namely, that the research was going to look at pedagogical strategies and curricula in a critical light in order to facilitate a constructive assessment. Paradoxically, while I have a vested interested in OIS and Out on Screen, these additional navigational steps have made the negotiation of potential conflicts a more transparent process. The issue of bias and the potential for conflict do not stem solely from my positionality as a researcher and the power differentials inherent to the researcher-participant relationship; nor does it reside in my position as a board member. Rather, it begins with my identification as a member of the queer community. The acknowledgement of this made me more attentive to my biases in favor of OIS, more attentive to the critical lens I apply to my analysis, and more aware of the potential for blind-spots in my critiques. The Conundrum of Data Analysis In whose voice do we write? Well, of course, our own. 9 —Michelle Fine & Lois Weis (1996, p. 119) As previously noted, the processes of data analysis began as the data was collected, 9  Here, Fine and Weis are suggesting that no matter how one writes of, and re-presents the  work and voices of participants, the major organizing voice is that of the researcher. What Fine and Weis do not point to is the possibility that the voice of the researcher is as partial, situated and holistically unreliable, as is relying on youth voice to offer the reader any “real” story. 57  and this further shaped the direction of later interviews, as my consideration of existing data informed questions and the direction of subsequent interviews. As I moved toward more finely tuned analysis, I heeded Lecompte and Schensul’s (1999) suggestion that “structural or constituent analysis involves linking together or finding consistent relationships among patterns, components, constituents, and structures”(p. 177). The model of the theoretically based extended case study lent itself to moments of looking to my own theoretical framework, resulting in a more deductive analysis: that is, looking at the theories I brought to the research, reading the data through those theories, and subsequently revising my findings in a manner open to further revision. As noted above, each interview and focus group was transcribed; in addition, I typed my field notes. I then took a single pass through the all of the data, reading it once without writing codes down. When I completed that pass, I began to code the data sources in relation to theoretically generated codes for issues of definitions of homophobia, impact of formal versus informal pedagogies, who was in charge of presenting such material, how youth understood media and its pedagogical purposes, and what I might discover in the data beyond these early codes. Lastly, I did a pass of the data, looking for the silences of both what was not said and what was said in a manner that my early codes could not forefront. Perhaps what surprised me most was not the youths’ ability to discuss homophobia or heterosexism but the moments where youth were employing both antihomophobia and (anti)heterosexist discourses simultaneously and contradictorily. In addition, over the course of the dissertation research and analysis, the language and influence of neoliberalism was undeniable, as both youth and the language they used within the interviews echoed a liberal and neoliberal logic (this will be discussed in depth in Chapters 3 through 5).  58  As I continued to work through the codes, themes became more apparent. Again, some were imposed by the methodology and the theoretical process in which I was engaged. This highlights that, in some ways, we see what we expect to see. However, in addition to those themes there were a number of other themes that arose from the system of coding—for example, as I noted above, the intensification of neoliberalism. Similarly, youth were quite interested in talking about the role of media in education and also in relation to the ways in which they employed media to articulate their definitions of identity and belonging. These themes offered a scaffolding to the dissertation’s theoretical vantage point, particularly queer theories, queer politics, and media theories, in addition to those that were added due to the analysis, such as neoliberalism and youth voice. This new reading, then, suggested a framework for the data chapters and a recursive engagement with existing theories and my own constructions and extensions of those theories, the mobility of which was made possible by the extended case method. Representation and Voice The forefronting of youth voice, while remaining central to the project’s conceptual framework, has presented me with several fundamental challenges. As Elisabeth Soep (2003) argues: Theory, it must be said, plays a different role in youth media than it does in adult academia, and yet researchers who intend to move beyond token inclusion of youth as junior field workers would be well served to engage young people’s own epistemologies not as raw materials to be interpreted but as conceptual frameworks that fuel further analysis. (p. 2)  59  The challenge, in part, is one of representation, the exploration and problematics of which have been and continue to be well documented within various fields of qualitative and ethnographic work (Best, 2007; Fine, 1994; Markham, 2005; Soep, 2003). While I am indebted to the work of critical ethnography because of its history, its relationship to the systemic and its investigative understandings of social reproduction (Apple, 1995; Giroux, 1983; Willis, 1977) are problematic and overly-determined, I approach my own qualitative research with the realization that I am drawing on, and moving away from research traditions that does not always account for the necessarily fragmented nature of representation and rely on a As Kari Dehli (2008) reminds us, “the task of the critical ethnographer is to represent, as best she can, the rich complexities of the lives of the people she studies” (p. 47). There are many on-going tensions between social determinism and agency, many of which I face in this research. The tension is particularly apparent when agency is understood as the capacity of a person or other entity to act in the world. The question of agency is one with which most researchers working with human participants struggle. It is, I am suggesting, a question of human beings’ critical capacity; a concept that is, of course, itself socially constructed. In the project as a whole, and in the following pages, I attempt to critique traditional, structural understandings of action available through a conscious agent, and yet these are not easy applications when analysing the actions of others. There are spaces within the dissertation that re-theorise youth voice as never fundamentally agenic and yet, there are also moments when that language “sneaks” into the social science discourses I employ. This speaks to the difficulty of work that desires determinism but sometimes returns, nearly unwittingly, to the language of the dominant that rewards hegemonic knowledges, as opposed to the difficult (Britzman, 1998).  60  The task of representing the research subject or subjects is one of the more complex, if not altogether impossible, challenges of field research and involves constant ethical and methodological negotiation. As qualitative researchers, we are asked to produce meaning about the subject, be it individuals, communities, places, events, or social phenomena (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999). Yet one’s analysis cannot escape the more subtle, embedded meanings enacted in and through language and analysis. One can only acknowledge these issues and, at best, leverage them in an effort to engage research that is ethically optimal in its actualization and critically sound in its analysis and production. Effective research, then, to borrow from Scott (1996), “takes all categories of analysis as contextual, contested, and contingent” (p. 976). And, as Domosh (2003) reminds us, “the research process itself is part of the ideological configuration in which and through which people form their identities.” Thus, as qualitative researchers, “we must be aware that the processes and politics that are imbricated in identity formation are also at work in the interview” (p. 110). One of the greatest, and least anticipated, difficulties for the researcher is often what Carol Smart (2009) identifies as the “challenge of writing sociologically” (p. 297)—the challenge of literally presenting the data—the thoughts, ideas and opinions of my participants rendered within these pages. I struggled with how best to integrate words that were not mine yet that had been made mine through the mechanism of the interview; I struggled with how best to represent ownership of the words-not-mine and the associated provocations of representation. I considered Domosh’s (2003) counsel that the field is “a site of reciprocal and contested relationships”(p. 8), as I endeavored throughout to balance the need for transparency and accountability in the face of these power dynamics and differentials, with a desire for acknowledging participant agency within my own knowledge production. Attempting to find  61  “agency within” the data, “rather than assuming it in advance of the ambiguity of language and cultural practice” (Pierre, 1997) means embracing an approach where theory and data are not bounded within discrete evidentiary lines. In poststructural terms, it means the potential for narratives to be messy and imprecise; it requires reflexivity, understood not as a navel-gazing tip-of the hat to a permissive self-reflection that justifies a speaking for but as a reflexivity that is unabashedly conscious and acknowledging of the qualitative impossibility of representing anything but my own words and ideas informed by my participants. It is a willingness to examine more closely the way meaning and thus knowledge is being constructed and deconstructed by participant and researcher, and an acceptance that the deconstructed messiness is both a point of theoretical departure and arrival. Conclusion Guided by the tenants of the extended case method, the goal of this research is not to discover evidentiary affirmations in the data that allow me to accurately represent and bolster my theoretical starting point, in this case queer theory, but rather to discover the places where theory might potentially fall apart, develop inconsistencies, or perhaps be revisioned entirely. I am leveraging Burawoy’s extended case method to position and maintain theory as a central tenant of this qualitative research project. As for Burawoy, my empirical findings do not fit neatly; there are jagged edges and frayed beginnings that mark the possibility of new theoretical assertions and disrupt common assumptions and theoretical understandings (Tavory & Timmermans, 2009). Avoiding the pitfalls of what Kvale (1995) refers to as “a modern legitimation mania” (p. 26), I posit an extended case study that no longer relies on a scientific method or a Truth; it is one that bridges existing theories and develops new  62  theoretical extensions that benefit from the tensions between critical truths10 and the messy methodological spaces concerning representation and voice.  10  The term critical truth here attempts to bridge the gap between Truth mired in the scientific  demands of a positivist history and the methodological need for validity. Following Lather (1993), who argues that validity is “a ‘limit question’ of research, one that repeatedly resurfaces, one that can neither be avoided nor resolved, a fertile obsession given its intractability” (p. 674), I attempt to trouble the “truth claims” embedded in this research as multiple and generative possibilities, informing and potentially refuting the theoretical center from which it emanates. 63  Chapter 3 Neoliberalism and Antihomophobia Education The voices of queer youth, even as the notion of voice must be problematized (Orner, 1992), remain undertheorised and underrepresented in many realms of research. In the hopes of challenging this paucity, this first data-driven chapter locates or paints a picture of homophobia in the schools from, predominately, the perspective of queer youth. The chapter opens with youths’ definitions of homophobia and their experiences and articulations of school climate in relation to issues confronting them in educational settings. From here, the chapter moves from the schools to a broader articulation of the political climates within which schools currently function. That is, utilizing three current international and local examples of responses to homophobia, I undertake an analysis of neoliberalism and homophobia. Drawing upon understandings of neoliberal spaces both within school and the more complex spaces of antihomophobia pedagogy, the chapter again focuses on youth (and some adult) assessments of school responses to homophobia, how youth attempt to respond to homophobic harassment and negative school environments, and concludes with youth suggestions for educators writ large. The chapter aspires to make evident the disconnects between what youth already understand about the failures of antihomophobia education as it is currently practiced and the perceived goals of antihomophobia in the attempt to make schools “safe” for all students. Drawing upon the study’s theoretical frameworks, this chapter begins with an acknowledgment of the importance of analysing the political climate within schools and drawing connections to how the broader political climate—that is, neoliberalism affects the school and queer youth and, further, how each responds to antihomophobia pedagogies. All 64  of which predetermines the shape of antihomophobia education and the wider pedagogical arena that Out in Schools (OIS) enters and must work within. Homophobia and School Climate How Students Define Homophobia Homophobia is a widely used and often overly generalized term.11 In light of the conversations in the literature in Chapter 2 and the space of tension the term occupies, it was important to ask youth to communicate their understanding of it. Not surprisingly, students had much to say about how they defined and interpreted homophobia and its related pedagogies. One student, who was amongst those asked to write a reflection as a class assignment in response to an OIS presentation, declared: Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality and is discrimination; it can be cause for hate crimes and also causes suicide in teenagers. This discrimination causes queer students and adults to be scared to come to their own school or workplace, and can be the cause for depression. 11  There are a number of theorists and researchers who employ psychoanalytic theories or  psychoanalytically informed theories as an explanation for homophobia and sexuality (de Lauretis 1987, 1994) particularly as it relates to issues of masculinity (Hocquenghem, 1978;Kimmel, 2000; Redman, 2000). While this is one potential framework available for analysing the ways in which homophobia operates, I do not take up this framework in the body of this work. Certainly many of the poststructural, feminist, and queer theorists and researchers I cite have been influenced by and are themselves well versed with this body of literature, including Butler, Britzman, Ellsworth, Bryson, Berlant.  65  In general, throughout their responses, students were quite familiar with homophobia and the notion that “homophobia is prejudice against (fear or dislike of) homosexual people and homosexuality,” and it “describes hostility or fear of gay people and homosexuality. For example, someone might be called homophobic if they dislike gay people; or if someone is violent towards a gay person they could also be described as homophobic” (written student response). Other students took their definitions a step further, outlining language use as homophobic, recognizing that the language they used was potentially hurtful and inappropriate, or both. One youth suggestedL“teenagers these days use words to express how bad something is, for example, this class is stupid, or this assignment is dumb, then ‘that’s so gay.’ I even say it.” This student understood that “that’s so gay” was homophobic and the equating of “gay” with something he deemed negative or bad was not merely an innocent language substitution. He was articulating a realization that he didn’t “actually think about how those simple words could affect people,” and words that may have once seemed humourous and banal had a negative effect on others. Another student, engaged in the same written assignment, attempted to explain the vernacular excess of gay pejoratives in youths’ vocabulary, arguing that: Homophobia is a term that is over-used. People feel the need to include this word in their everyday life it has become so over-used and that it’s been brought into terms that aren’t even alike to the word gay, homo, fag, etc. Some examples of these are: “That test was so gay!” “You’re a fag!” “Your clothes look gay.” These are some examples of a ridiculous term that has taken our vocabulary over, and is daily used, in like every single sentence. We have actually changed our words from “That test sucked ass” to “That test was so gay!”  66  The seemingly inherent contradiction of at once claiming the overuse of homophobia to describing the use of gay pejoratives, and the simultaneous acknowledgement of expressions such as “that’s so gay” having become discursively universalized to describe all things deemed unpopular and disagreeable is, from a pedagogical standpoint, telling. The messages of antihomophobia, have, according to this young woman, come to mean very little in terms of addressing verbal slurs and abuse. This plainly spoken ambivalence speaks, at best, to the failure of current antihomophobic and antibullying discourses, and, at worst, to the marked absence of such discourses. This young woman’s ambivalence is a compelling exemplar of the instances of verbal harassment that many youth experience (see the recent McCreary Centre Society report; Saewyc et al., 2007) addressing the wellbeing of LGB youth in British Columbia (Table 1).  67  Table 1 Victimization Experiences at School in the Past Year Males  Females  100% heterosexual  29%  37%  Mostly heterosexual  41%  53%  Bisexual  48 %  54%  Gay/Lesbian  61%  66%  100% heterosexual  24%  36%  Mostly heterosexual  36%  50%  Bisexual  44%  48%  Gay/Lesbian  55%  53%  100% heterosexual  13%  5%  Mostly heterosexual  13%  10%  Bisexual  28%  19%  Gay/Lesbian  7%  20%  Verbal harassment  Purposeful exclusion  Physical assaults  Source: (Saewyc et al., 2007, p.16) Both this research study and the statistical examples above bear out the prevalence of the normalization of homophobic and abusive language and the inability or unwillingness of youth—particularly heterosexual youth, those least affected by homophobic violence—to make the connection between the embedded heteronormativity of language, its expression in “words,” and the proliferation of homophobic violence. Until these connections can be made, antihomophobia education is always in danger of falling markedly short in altering behaviour and effecting substantive change. As I have argued elsewhere (MacIntosh, 2007), by drawing on Butler (1997), to locate or attribute deleterious meaning solely to a word or utterance advances the “notion that injurious speech is attributable to a singular subject and 68  act” (p. 8), when what needs to be examined is the underlying ideologies12 from which such utterances derive power. Looking at the issue from a different perspective, with an insightful twist on the nature-versus-nurture argument, one student suggested that “homophobia is something that you are not just born with, you are taught it at school, your friends go around and you hear people say ‘oh, you’re so gay.’” When juxtaposed with the acute awareness of youth, and their ability to articulate the problem in such cogent terms—particularly this youth, who highlights that not only is homophobia learned but is learned at school—the shortcomings of antihomophobia pedagogies are brought into focus. Certainly not all youth with whom I spoke felt helpless or indifferent in the face of homophobia. Lady Gaga, who identified as gay and Filipino-Japanese,13 stated the following: I’ve experienced [homophobia] at [names his school] but, um, that was a long time ago and I’ve experienced it in life as well. I’m sure a lot of people have; it’s not like a big issue for me like it hasn’t affected my life. I just know these people are out there and I’m not living for them so I’m not trying to please these people so why do I care what they think? As a researcher, I am struck by the strength of character and self-assuredness of this young man. In his claim to have been unaffected by the homophobia he has faced, Lady Gaga is what many researchers, educators, administrators and well-meanings parents and allies would 12  I am suggesting a range of ideologies, here, which contribute to the possibility of injurious  speech. 13  A reminder that identifiers assigned to participants herein are the ones they chose during  their interviews. 69  identify as the quintessentially “resilient gay youth.” In a desire to applaud youths’ agency, we are quick to construct a “exceptional” subject position for those who stand up in the face of adversity, who stand against the name calling and the bullying, those who rise above, taking a leadership role in their GSA, or those who simply live their lives as popular, successful, well-adjusted queer kids. The celebratory rush to acknowledge the success of these youth feeds and solidifies perceptions of the “successful gay teen” against which a lesswell-adjusted and therefore at-risk counterpart also takes shape and is constructed as youthas-problem. Both constructions act as a convenient subterfuge covering over the normative authority and exclusionary tensions that define emergent identities. While youths’ agency and resiliency certainly need to be acknowledged, as Talburt (2004b) reminds us, “narratives of empowerment, haunted by their opposite of isolation, pain, and risk, may impose certain subject positions and forms of intelligibility on queer youth and exclude those who do not conform to their logic” (p. 32). School Climate Multiple research findings support the belief that (hetero)normative curriculums are particularly problematic for gay and lesbian youth (Quinlivan & Town, 1999; Quinn, 2007; Saewyc et al., 2007). This is compounded by the paucity of space within most schools for sexual-minority youth to grapple with the terms of their burgeoning identities. I asked one teacher, Lisa, what the culture of homophobia was like at her school, and she replied, “It’s rampant . . . I think that. . . . you hear gay and fag in the hallway probably thirty times a day.” Similarly, I also requested that a number of youth “explain your school climate to me,  70  imagining I had never been to your school.” One young, white,14 gay-identified No Hate film camp participant, Lionel, said: So there’s mainly jocks in my school and they’re the jocks that, you know, the typical muscle- bound, shorthaired ,stupid and crass and rude and crude kind of student jocks. They run the school. . . . It’s run by the jocks who are predominantly homophobic and disgustingly violent—well not violent towards gay people. Just violent in general kind of, you know, Hrr-rrowl [making a howling/growl sound] man gross-ness. LM: A lot of name calling? L: yeah, a lot of name calling. Um, there hasn’t really been much violence but, you know, there’s always the tension. Tension is predominantly what creates the, you know, the atmosphere between, you know, students who are different and the incrowd. The tension Lionel describes is indicative of the silences surrounding heteronormativity more generally. As a disciplinary norm, heteronormativity structures the performative standards by which success and failure are measured and by which the kind of gender regulation described by Lionel above is sanctioned. As Youdell (2006) reminds us, “such discourses do not need to be made explicit or spoken to be cited and to have performative force. On the contrary, discourses that go unspoken, that are silent or silenced, remain constitutive” (p. 522). Thus even the unspoken norms of gender and sexuality regulate the constitutive 14  White is not capitalized here, even though it is the APA standard, as a political decision to  capitalize the racial and ethnic backgrounds of nondominant groups, and decentre the dominant. 71  energies of the everyday, as queer youth instinctively guard against the judgments of others and often live in the anticipatory tension of social and institutional censure. Similarly, Trudy, a 17-year-old, self-identified lesbian, high school senior, and member of her school’s GSA, remarked that the issue of homophobia—and, thus, I would argue that of heterosexual privilege—is marked by silence: 15 LM: Okay. Would you say, well, what is the state of your school in your opinion around homophobia? Would you say it’s being addressed here? It’s a problem; it’s not a problem? T: Well it’s hard to say because of the, because of this blanket of silence that’s so, um, a problem in the halls regarding being open about your sexuality and that sort of thing. Um. It’s not like the um any active gay bashings or anything. It’s just more of a sort of refusal to really talk about being gay in a positive way LM: Right. What about things like hearing fag and that’s so gay and that in the hallways? It is telling that Trudy hesitated to identify explicitly the presence of homophobia at her school because there are not, in her words, any “active gay bashings.” Even to a student directly involved in her school’s GSA, a student organization involved, according to Trudy,  15  As discussed in the methodology chapter, when appropriate to the material I offer longer  examples of data in order for the reader to see the “give and take” between the interviewer and interviewee and to highlight my own interventions into the research. Similarly, I have presented the articulations of the students with the ellipses, dashes, and filler language so as not to alter their speech patterns and its potential meaning. 72  “in campaigns to generate awareness about homophobia,” the homophobic language of her school does not itself necessarily constitute an explicit element of homophobia. When discussing teacher reactions to homophobic slurs, Lionel suggested that teacher inaction “could be homophobia, but I just think that it’s more like not awareness or disregard for things that are going on and that basically ties into being homophobic. Because if you can’t stand up for somebody, you’re—you must be against them.” While I will return to a discussion of teacher responses to homophobia in a later section, it is important to note that in defining and dismantling homophobia, educators, too, are equally challenged to develop queer content in complex and intersecting curricular and pedagogical ways within the current political climates of most schools. When I asked a lesbian-identified school counselor at “Central,” a large suburban high school, about its efforts to implement antihomophobia initiatives, she observed: We’re doing it without policy and support, but that is something we’re moving toward—again very slowly . . . there are not enough resources. Although we have a presence, for sure, and things have moved along, these one-shot events are a start . . . but they certainly don’t queer the school. I wondered what kept her going in a difficult environment, and she responded: “I guess it’s the kids. And it’s personal and political. It’s been really good for me. . . .16 And when I think of letting it go, a kid or two will pop up.” As “differences” continue to be named in a political vacuum, bodies, such as those of the students referenced above, are synchronously constructed as other vis-à-vis race, (homo)sexuality, class, dis/ability, and the like. The 16  A reminder to the reader that three-dot ellipses denote editing of a quote, while four-dot  ellipses mark pauses by the participant. 73  result is a learning environment in which both mainstream and marginalized youths struggle to develop an understanding of themselves under the encumbering weight of normativism. The next section of this chapter seeks to contextualize the failure to “take up” homophobia and heterosexism in educational contexts within the current political climate. Neoliberalism and Antihomophobia Current discourses regarding queer politics and homophobia in the Canadian context are increasingly encumbered by a vision of Canada as postqueer. The arrival of same-sex marriage, coupled with Canada’s multicultural history, informs a politics of sameness and assimilation that is antithetical to articulations of nonnormative queerness. While not politically insignificant, same-sex marriage has helped to usher in a postqueer logic of homonormativity that envisions all queer bodies in the idealized and fully legitimated form of the new gay citizen (Duggan, 2003). The liberated gay-citizen body is enveloped in metanarratives of normativity, overtly defined by a web of representational politics that is endemic to, but extends far beyond, neoliberalized narratives of tolerance and belonging (Brown, 2008). Reminiscent of what Berlant (1997) identifies as “dead citizenship” (p. 59), the rhetoric of neoliberal tolerance and acceptance associated with gayness in Canada has made the queer body “conventional,” rendering its politics no longer “live, or in play, but dead, frozen, fixed” (p. 59) in the temporality of the postqueer moment. This postqueer stasis is symptomatic of the ongoing unitary project of identity politics and points to a much larger crisis facing queerness and queer politics (Edelman, 2004; Muñoz, 2009; Youdell, 2010). In a nation thoroughly steeped in the rhetorics of multicultural civility and tolerance, attempting to represent queerness—the ephemeral traces (Muñoz, 2009) of bodies that can refute the consumptive and reifying demands of neoliberal discourse have become all but  74  impossible. It is necessary at this point to sort the multiple and overlapping references to liberalism and explicate my use of neoliberalism as a general political frame. Recognizing that neoliberalism historically refers to pro-market (Keynesian) economies and global democratization (Harvey, 2005; Jessop, 2002), as Brown (2006) notes, neoliberalism “as a political rationality . . . also involves a specific and consequential organization of the social, the subject, and the state” (p. 693). Liberalism refers to two specific frames in the context of this work: liberal pluralism, and liberal democracy. It is the former that is most closely related to neoliberal frames and that is most centrally implicated in my critique. In relation to youth, and perhaps their instructors, the primary focus on homophobia, as opposed to heterosexism (discussed more fully in the next chapter), is not altogether surprising because it mirrors an ideology of individualism and liberalism that prevails in Canadian society (Kelly & Brandes, 2001) This type of ideological individualism, in turn, may proffer and perpetuate the blinders that obscure institutional forms of oppression. While I offer these as working definitions, I would also argue that 21st-century political conditions make any attempt at precise delineation between the various formulations of liberalism and neoliberalism difficult, if not impossible. Informed by feminist scholars whose incisive political observations and critiques (Berlant, 1997; Brown, 1995; de Lauretis, 2004) give insight to the deleterious effects of normative citizenship, entrenched individualism, and idealized national culture, I take up neoliberalism in the interests of identifying the particular political conditions that have shaped queer theory and politics for two decades, and to account for the current direction of antihomophobia education. Brown (2005) offers perhaps the most cogent explanation of the relationship and distinction between liberalism and neoliberalism, asserting that liberalism, distinct from the  75  market logic of neoliberalism, “signifies a political order in which the state exists to secure the freedom of individuals on a formally egalitarian basis “(p. 39). Yet, like liberalism, neoliberalism, which Duggan (2003) argues is a 20th-century formulation of liberalism, constructs identity and the social and political aspects of daily life as normative, straining difference through its homogenizing sieve. Similarly, Kinechloe and Steinberg (1997) argue that “liberalism has made a fetish of proper process, thus abstracting the lived worlds of individuals and the consequences of particular results from the realm of the political” (p. 14). Equally useful in framing this discussion is Dean’s (2009) account of the postpolitical, wherein she argues that the postpolitical is both “an ideal of consensus, inclusion, and administration that must be rejected,” and a theory that accounts for the contemporary lack and “foreclosure of the political” (p. 13). Tracing her understandings through Žižek, Mouffe, and Brown, Dean attributes the current political crisis to the consumptive logic of neoliberalism and the collapse of the political left. Particularly salient in her observation is the causal relationship of the Left’s failure, which she attributes, in part, to the ability of contemporary right wing political circles to usurp the language of the liberal Left. As will be discussed below, and in the next chapter, the appropriation of language in relation to antihomophobia, bullying and the erasure of the queer body further screens systemic heterosexism and homophobia from view, leaving educators, parents and youth with only the language of individualism and “risk.” Mediating Reactions and Antihomophobia Responses A significant measure of antihomophobia work is characterized by popular conceptions of queer-as-victim, at-risk discourses and corollary blame-the-victim fixes (Loutzenheiser, 2002; Rasmussen, Rofes, & Talburt, 2004; Talburt, 2004a). The ongoing  76  persistence of homophobia in schools and classrooms as indicated by numerous national reports dealing with homophobia in BC schools, Canadian schools, and American schools (Kosciw, Diaz, & Greytak, 2008; Kosciw, Greytak, & Bartkiewicz, 2010; Saewyc et al., 2007; Taylor et al., 2009; Taylor et al., 2011) and the silences embedded in antihomophobia curricula are further examples of the ways in which liberal and neoliberal politics manifests itself in public discourse and pedagogical expectations. As Brown (2006) usefully reminds us, social justice and the underlying principles of equality, universality, political autonomy and liberty are precisely “what neoliberal political rationality jettisons, or at least severely challenges, with its alternative principles of governance” (p. 696) and “the explicit imposition of a particular form of market rationality on these spheres” (p. 693). That said, pedagogical interests demand that we ask, given an understanding of the current political climate and its implications for the social, where knowledge of antihomophobia originates, and how current antihomophobia discourses are manifest and consumed. What follows are analyses of three approaches to working against homophobia at the international and local levels. These analyses act as broad exemplars of the impact of neoliberal discourse and curricular impediments posed by its ideological influence, within which OIS and schools must function. It Gets Better Research initiatives and school classrooms aside, one need only turn to YouTube or any number of Facebook and other social-media events to see that many public antihomophobia initiatives often emanate from very real situations that require response. The question becomes, how often is that response couched in a comforting cloak of individualism? In September 2010, within the span of one month, six young people–Seth  77  Walsh, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, and Cody Barker— committed suicide. By the first week of October, two YouTube channels inspired by these tragic events emerged: Dan Savage’s It Gets Better, which he began on Sept 15, shortly after Billy Lucas hanged himself, and Makeitbetter.org, a project sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and endorsed by several leading American LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD, PFLAG, and Lambda. Within a matter of weeks, there were thousands of postings by members of LGBTQ, queer, and allied communities. Particularly on the It Gets Better channel, celebrities, musicians, politicians, and other public figures—both gay and straight (President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jack Layton)—expressed their views about the ways in which it can and will “get better.” The messages are, by and large, varying versions of the same theme: “don’t give up, I know it’s hard now, but it gets better.” There are numerous intensely personal accounts of homophobic experiences in high school, as individuals and couples share their narrative recollections of the violence and harassment they faced, as young LGBTQ(or perceived as LGBTQ) students. The response to the posts has been overwhelming positive, though certainly the initiative is not without its critics. It Gets Better uses the languages of antihomophobia; it illustrates the quotidian character of neoliberal rhetoric and the seepage of an assimilative and highly palatable antihomophobia discourse into the public imaginary. To his credit, Dan Savage has acknowledges both in his writing and in interviews that “It Gets Better” is simply “triage” in the midst of a crisis. The videos do provide a voice in the heteronormative wilderness of adolescent development and social life, most especially for queer youth in isolated rural communities where resources are scarcer. On that level, It Gets Better should be applauded  78  not as the solution to homophobia and inaction on the part of adults but as “something” in the face of, what for many youth, can feel like a world of nothingness. Make It Better Similarly, the central focus of the Make It Better project is to support and empower LGBTQ youth by “taking it one step further, and giving youth the tools they need to make their lives better now.” Posts by youth are, likewise, deeply personal, empathetic pleas that encourage youth to find strategies and push through the homophobia they face on a daily basis. It is a mediating witnessing, as participants give account of their experiences and understandings, offered performatively as evidence of agency, change, and possibility. The most notable difference is the immediacy of their demand to make it better now, rather than waiting for the promise of it getting better. As is often the case with queer youth, it is those in GSAs, youth marginalized across a normative spectrum of sexuality, gender, race, class, and ability—some ostracized, some thriving—who are frequently the first to step up and demand change, to educate their peers, to speak against homophobia, to take the initiative and establish meaningful change in their school environment. Those for whom speaking out presents great risk, those already deemed at risk, and those for whom antihomophobia initiatives and generic anti-bullying campaigns are targeted: these variously “at-risk” youth are coming forward in an attempt to advance knowledge and initiate change. But at what cost? As I have argued elsewhere (MacIntosh, 2007), GSAs establish the undeniable presence of sexual-minority youth within the wider heterosexual school population, by allowing the queer body to legitimately occupy a space within a “majoritarian public sphere” (Berlant, 1997, p. 245). Within neoliberal frames, the queer body is only palatable if it is clearly identifiable as other, and it is made recognizable in part through the familiarity of  79  language. This is particularly true of those attempting to reform antihomophobia discourse, whose proponents must walk a fine line between neoliberalized ideals of tolerance and inclusion and the desire to advance a queered politics of refusal. This is the paradoxical politics faced by sexual minority youth in schools, where the public enactment of one’s identity is necessitated by a desire for recognizability and political agency. GSAs, social networking spaces, and select media platforms are often problematically positioned as the only spaces in which sexual minority youth can safely articulate their identity. Equally troubling is an institutional mindset that conceives of the GSA or the YouTube channel among the few public spaces where LGBTQ visibility ought be located. Rather than recognizing the palpable need for systemic change, parents, educators, administrators policy makers, media pundits, and the public at large are too often inclined to leave youth at the helm, acknowledging their work at arm’s length, and fueling celebratory fires of education’s status quo. In several of the Make It Better posts, issues of risk—the threat of violence, homelessness, and isolation—are often addressed through their own proclamations of “standing up” or “taking a stand,” and again we see youth offering their queerness for the benefit of others. Correspondingly, the youth filmmakers I worked with over the course of three years at OIS, which will be discussed in Chapter 6, took a stand, their rallying cry was time and time again addressed to adults, parents, teachers, coaches, administrators—those least at risk, those having much less to lose by stepping out and stepping up. In general, the initiatives taken by youth in general, speak to the immediacy of these issues and the profundity of youth.  80  Local Reactions Institutional reaction to homophobia is often equally as regressive as the public response discussed above, albeit contrastingly motivated. Mayo (2006) states, “liberals argue for principled intervention in problematic discrimination, essentially assuming that cultural animus will evaporate once forms of discrimination are challenged” (p. 471). The language in the following questions suggested in the elective Social Justice 12 course’s unit on “Examining LGBT Issues” (unit 6, 9 pp.) exemplifies the type of adjuvant or ancillary interventionism that defines most antihomophobia initiatives: § § § § §  Is there discrimination against LGBT people in our school? Do LGBT people feel safe in our school? Are there safe places in our school? What evidence is there that all people, including individuals who are LGBT, are welcomed in our school? What activities in our school reflect inclusiveness?  The emphasis here is on evidentially based issues such as inclusivity and safety, while the language of the prefacing “all people” enacts a particular erasure of the queer body in relation to explicit forms of discrimination and its principal cause. In other words, the suggested questions partially obscure the precise issue the curriculum seeks to address. There is no mention of homophobia, despite the direct invocation of the queer (LGBT) body. Thus, the social-justice curriculum questions are consistent with the “visibility and inclusion” model common to most antihomophobia discourses, which ignores the ubiquitous presence of heteronormativity. What is rewarded in schools, both institutionally in terms of funding and publically in terms of support, is often that which does not require radical alterations of curricula and pedagogy (e.g., school-wide events such as Day of Pink). Similarly, note the following policy developed by Vancouver School Board (2004) as  81  part of a larger social justice focus seeking to honour the “letter and spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the B. C. Human Rights Acts” (p. 1): Antihomophobia Education strives to identify and change educational practices, policies, and procedures that promote homophobia, as well as the homophobic attitudes and behaviours that underlie and reinforce such policies and practices. Antihomophobia education provides knowledge, skills, and strategies for educators to examine such discrimination critically in order to understand its origin and to recognize and challenge it. (p. 2) Despite the board’s espousal of its goal to develop “skills and strategies for educators to examine such discrimination critically,” there is little evidence in its formal instructional guidelines, including the aforementioned Social Justice 12 curriculum, to support this desired pedagogical outcome. Accepting Dean’s (2009) notion of the postpolitical as void or lack, institutionalized neoliberalism, such as that evidenced above, becomes highly consumable and subsequently more easily utilized in educational spaces where “controversial topics” are taboo. This cycle of political consumption within education shores up the neoliberal status quo at the macro level and spills over at the micro level of curriculum development and antihomophobia initiatives. As Fraser (2010; Fraser & Bedford, 2008) aptly delineates, the political “misframing” of social citizenship and “meta-political misrepresentation” is no longer simply a matter of justice and inequity, as previously understood. Rather, it is a matter of reconceptualizing the very frames of injustice, looking carefully at who has been included and excluded within these frames and why; it is a matter of examining the policies of recognition that form the backbone of increasing calls for reform.  82  The politics of recognition is not new, but it can be usefully employed, using Fraser’s model of “misframing,” to call into question common discourses of social justice and educational reform that operate unquestionably with unfettered liberatory potential. These manifestations of political inequity, Fraser and Bedford (2008) argue, occur not at the level of disparity “within a given frame, but the prior level at which such frames themselves are constituted and who counts as a member in the first place is determined” (p. 234). As “differences” continue to be named in a political vacuum, bodies, such as those generically categorized as being “at risk,” are synchronously constructed as “Other” vis-à-vis race, (homo)sexuality, class, dis/ability, and the like. The result is a learning environment in which both mainstream and marginalized youths struggle to develop an understanding of themselves under the encumbering weight of normativism. I’m Drawing A Blank: School Responses to Homophobia LM:  What is the main message of antihomophobia that you hear most frequently? What—you’ve heard it from your teachers and stuff—what has been their sort of main message?  MP:  I’m drawing a blank right now. (male participant, rural focus group)  A number of studies (Holmes, 2005; Knotts & Gregorio, 2011; Kosciw et al., 2010; Saewyc et al., 2007) have pointed out the prevalence and harm caused by the ongoing verbal harassment of LGBT youth, yet somehow many schools have not taken up this message. The question of why is beyond the scope of this work, but it is certainly worth greater  83  exploration. As for youth who continue to hear uninterrupted homophobic utterances such as “that’s so gay,” Lita, a 15-year-old, straight Salvadorian Canadian ally, said: I think most people either ignore it or they either hear it so much that they kind of like just give up and think it’s like the modern thing to say nowadays. I don’t really hear much people, like I know in my socials classroom there’s this one girl who says it and the, but I don’t think the teacher hears her. But I don’t think teachers are doing enough to stop it. Again we hear the familiar refrain of discursive assimilation, as homophobic language is mainstreamed, marking the queer body as abject along the path of its consumption. The lack of meaningful and sustained intervention by teachers and administrators regarding the routine expression of phrases such as “that’s so gay” and other sexually based pejoratives has resulted in the erasure of such language’s homophobic messaging, despite its potentially caustic outcome.17 17  The participants in the study both criticize and applaud the work of teachers and schools.  My focus, here, is on the perspectives of the youth and thinking through these perspectives, rather than on the perspectives of teachers, per se. One concern that motivated the study is the fact that according to the recent climate studies in the US and Canada (Kosciw, Diaz, & Greytak, 2008; Saewyc et al., 2007; Taylor et al., 2009), and further borne out by the studies released most recently (Kosciw, Greytak, & Bartkiewicz, 2010;Taylor et al., 2011), is that many youth feel that schools are failing them and that school spaces are dangerous and difficult for some queer students. More importantly, youth note that schools can be changed. These perspectives are what the dissertation highlights and thus the analyses offered are of school as a space worthy of critique. 84  When asked whether schools addressed homophobia effectively and actively, Trudy, a female-identified youth noted: um, it depends too. Especially, well, I find more the humanities teachers like the social studies teacher—I can think of a couple or more social studies teachers I’ve had who are—actively said to a student who was using that’s so gay or fag that that is disrespectful but most teachers, most teachers just don’t comment . . . I can remember maybe one instance where there was a grade eight social studies teacher that, um, went on to explain why, but in daily classes, no. In response to a similar question, Lady Gaga asserted: No, I do not. I believe there could be so much more education put into this, you know? Like I believe there could be, you know, maybe planning or something, you know, like Planning 10 like more than just one session . . . maybe they’ve changed, maybe the School Board has changed . . . Like I think if kids were taught and educated about homophobia in grade school even, you know, we wouldn’t have the homophobes that are growing up today, you know? There wouldn’t be that’s so gay heard at every single school. I have not been to a school where a kid did not say that’s so gay. Here again, we have youths’ cogent pronouncements of that which the majority of educators and other adults, as equal witnesses to the events that occur in classrooms, hallways, and lunchrooms, seldom articulate. Namely, that one-off interventions are not enough, that the fear of exposing youth and children to the diversity of sexual and gender identities at an early age is unfounded and detrimental, and that homophobia is a learned behaviour perpetuated in our schools and its classrooms (Kosciw et al., 2010; Rasmussen et al., 2004; Russell, 2002).  85  Mayo (2006), echoing the words of Sedgwick, argues that “no other minority is so faced with medical and educational institutions intent on their eradication prior to their adulthood” (p. 473). Extending her critique to the school, Mayo further asserts that “queer children are denied representations of themselves in most public institutions; indeed, in public schools many of these children instead find customs of hostility largely unchallenged by those in positions of authority” (p. 473). The prevalence of homophobic slurs and the institutional silence that Lady Gaga describes are tantamount to the institutional eradication to which Sedgwick and Mayo elude. Other students I spoke with were able to point to singular teachers whom they felt addressed homophobic harassment, but these teachers seemed to be the exception and stood out as anomalous individuals within their schools. For example, Margaret, a 15-year-old who identified as pansexual and Chinese, reported that one of our vice-principals who used to be my math teacher, she’s pretty open and like I think a bunch of teachers, they’re just, they’re not against it, but they don’t go out of their way to make it amazingly top on their list type thing but their like. . . It’s not something that teachers generally talk about and say oh, hey let’s talk about queers and how awesome they are or something. Lionel spoke about the immediacy of action when his drama teacher addressed homophobia, noting “that once she does [discuss it], that issue stops. She . . . drives it home so importantly she pounds it into you . . .” Lionel also spoke of this teacher as being tough, but only because “she wants the best for you and that’s why she wants you to understand, you know, like things that are acceptable and not and some of the things that aren’t acceptable to her is homophobia and sexism and racism—all kinds of isms.” The narrative of the one  86  exceptional teacher or adult figure at the school who intervenes on behalf of queer youth was one I heard repeatedly from my participants. While these important and notable interventions should not be dismissed, the exceptionality of the mediation is revealing of a systemic silence that runs through our educational institutions and curriculum, allowing homophobia to flourish virtually unchecked. Lisa, a teacher I interviewed who identifies as a white, allied heterosexual, had the impression that, after the OIS presentation at her school: Many teachers don’t, didn’t, take it up in their classrooms before or after particularly from the laughter that the kids—like my students talked about that afterwards. They talked about, you know, why were the kids laughing and, I just, and we talked about I was really proud of their behavior in the assembly and I just think, like, because my kids had heard the word gender before, and they’d heard the word sexuality before and they’d heard the word queer before and so it wasn’t like [gasping sound] and I think if anything can be taken from OIS it’s how little that’s being spoken about in the classrooms. Both Lisa and Lady Gaga (above) are stakeholders in the unfulfilled promise of antihomophobia education, and both suggest that if discussions about homophobia were normalized that the issues of homophobia would lessen. While certainly adopting an extensive program promoting greater awareness about homophobia and sexual and gender diversity is unequivocally a key part of any solution, the problem is not simply that of knowledge production and dissemination. Again, Lisa identifies the issue of decontextualized interventions at her own school, stating that “a lot of staff just say ‘don’t say that’ and then the kid just thinks oh, I’m not allowed to say it but no understanding of the  87  context of why they’re not allowed to say it.” We must first address the normalcy embedded in the construction of knowledge and the prevalent desire to believe that homophobia is merely a matter of ignorance. We subsequently assume that it is homophobia that must be understood, leaving heteronormativity and its self-evident truths unquestioned as a pervading and dominant discourse. In reaction to the passive acceptance of homophobia, I asked what, if any, proactive intervention strategies evolved amongst school faculty. Lisa replied: None, other than the cheesy posters that went up around the school that with the no sign through them that say that’s so gay . . . other than that and our school board policy. In our agendas it’s laid out for the kids. It says no racist, sexist or homophobic language, but you do not hear kids using the ‘N’ word in the hallways but you would hear [fag] and there has to be something that policy has done or reactions from staff has done to stop that word or to get the kids thinking around that word whereas that same thinking and reaction from the staff is not coming out when kids say fag. The problem of nonintervention goes beyond the affirming message that silence sends. Many youth also face an unpredictable, and oftentimes unsupportive, environment in their homes and social worlds, leaving them without adult mentors in this important educative and identificatory stage of their development (Sadowski, 2008). Curricular Inclusion Outside the prohibition of hate speech, arguments offered in support of LGBTQ curriculum often begin from a place of inclusion. By this, I mean the desire to infuse queer or LGBTQ issues, viewpoints, or examples into an existing curriculum in the K-12 settings.  88  Sometimes it is as simple as including a storybook with same-sex characters or a list of famous or historically significant (perhaps subject-specific) LGBT figures—or it may be as specific as the mandating of particular social justice content. The advancement of such curricular mandates may provide the protections that teachers feel they need to open up curricular conversations in classrooms. In British Columbia, there are three required courses where content about sexual health is offered: Career and Health Education 8, Career and Health Education 9, and Planning 10 (the course to which OIS is most often invited). Each of the Instructional Resources Packages (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2005, 2007) states: When selecting specific topics, activities, and resources to support the implementation of Health and Career Education 8 and 9, teachers are encouraged to ensure that these choices support inclusion, equity, and accessibility for all students. In particular, teachers should ensure that classroom instruction, assessment, and resources reflect sensitivity to diversity and incorporate positive role portrayals, relevant issues, and themes such as inclusion, respect, and acceptance. (p. 13 of each document) When teachers choose to be inclusive, they have only loose curricular frames such as “healthy living,” “making healthy choices,” and the “consequences of unsafe sexual behaviour”; all of which seem to reduce sex and sexuality to risk prevention, health care, and a liberalized notion of personal choice. There are places within the IRPs where issues concerning homophobic bullying (or racism, or ableism, etc.) might be discussed, such as in Health and Career Planning 8/9, where the IPR suggests “contributing to a safe and caring school” (p. 11). However, even when the issues are addressed, they are left within a  89  framework of neoliberal individualism that looks to risk reduction and victim identification as the solution rather than a nuanced discussion of systemic normativism (Kelly & Brandes, 2001). It is striking that nowhere in each of these documents do the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer appear. The message this sends to instructors is they might include issues of homophobia, but such inclusion is not mandated. What’s more, the medically reliant sex-education model of sexual-identity formation, focused on biology and health, leaves much to be desired in terms of informing and nourishing a secure subject position for queer youth. Quinlivan and Town (1999) identified like findings in their research, arguing that “the pervasive message received by the students was that sexuality was reproductive and heterosexual, reinforcing the minority and abnormal status of homosexuality within the curriculum” and, further, that in “focusing on anatomy, the enacted curriculum perpetuated the separation of physical bodies from feelings and thoughts” (p. 515). As discussed in Chapter 1, the problematics of inclusion as the solution to antihomophobia are well researched and documented (Loutzenheiser, 2003; MacIntosh, 2007; Mayo, 2004; Rasmussen et al., 2004). In brief, inclusion pedagogies often employ an “add and stir” strategy that breaks the heteronormative silence but does little to move discussions beyond the binary designations of bodies as “good” or “bad,” “other” or “normal.” The “good gay,” for example, is identifiable as gay without threatening to transcend normative boundaries with identificatory excess, the queer youth or adult who has contributed meaningfully through cultural production, acts of resilience or being a gay rolemodel. Phillip, an Iranian Canadian facilitator who identifies as homosexual, discussed his concerns about “add and stir” children’s literature selections:  90  I’m not too sure if the solution is, you know, making them read books that talk about two mommies or two daddies. I think that, sure, we can have those books in the library but really going through the protocol of, if any incidents were to happen— people get insulted on a regular basis, they get bullied. How to deal with those issues? Because those issues aren’t really talked about in those books. Since the systemic issues of heteronormativity are rarely raised in this milieu, queer bodies remain an “Other” whose curricular “equity-box” is metaphorically checked off through this curricular insertion. When I asked 15-year-old Margaret about what happened in her classes outside of Planning 10, and if homophobia or diversity had come up in her other courses, she reported, “Well I guess you could say when I took peer helping they had the, peer helping is a course and we had it’s kind of like CAPP [Career and Personal Planning, a precursor to Planning 10], but not really. We learn how to help our peers and if something comes up . . . but we did have GAB18 come in and talk with us as well.” Here, Margaret attempts to identify an occasion when issues of homophobia had been addressed in her school. The vagueness of her account corresponds to the nebulous place of antihomophobia within school curriculum, wedged precariously in CAPP programs or sparsely scattered throughout elective courses, and largely facilitated by community organizations outside the school or, in the case of Margaret’s school, a community LGBT youth program.  18  GAB is QMUNITY’s (BC’s queer resource center) youth program, located in downtown  Vancouver. 91  In many ways this is the space that OIS enters as they bring LGBT issues into the schools. In discussing the goals for OIS, Ross Johnstone, the coordinator, noted that a goal for OIS was to develop a curriculum guide and: [begin] the lobbying process to the Ministry of Education, which is a fairly lofty goal and a lengthy one as well, but what we ultimately see essentially is that there is nothing in the schools that is mandatory regarding LBGT education. It’s an obvious gap in the curriculum; it’s a gap we’re looking to fill. According to Ross (and repeated at advisory-board meetings I attended), additional objectives include a vision of OIS’s presentations acting as a springboard for the development of other types of diversity and media-focused curriculum and pedagogy in the classrooms. This includes the idea of teachers training each other and teachers creating their own OIS-type presentations to carry on the conversations beyond the one-time presentations OIS is able to offer. It was with this vision in mind that OIS developed its resource guide for teachers in 2009. There are, of course, teachers who do employ critical approaches to raising important issues in their classrooms and do amazing work with and around homophobia, teachers such as participants Lisa and Vilma. I offer the following lengthy description from Lisa’s curricular approach, as there is little in the way of direct examples within existing literature: First off with my grade tens . . . we start off talking about languages of norms. . . That’s the way I start the whole class so we right away they start getting used to hearing the words gender and sexuality and talking about norms of whiteness and then we look at the the—we look at media first because I think that they can use that and then we look at how it’s presented in the textbook . . . That’s kind of the  92  framework that the classroom is set up in. . . . then once we’ve had that framework set up, then if a kid does say “that’s so gay” about something, then we can stop and go okay, let’s talk about norms. Let’s talk about what that word means. Let’s talk about the historical weight of words . . . I draw a little suitcase on the board and we talk about the historical language and who has the right to say whether a term is racist or how they mean it. Because kids will say, “I don’t mean it that way” all the time. . . . Then we talk about banning words and censorship and we talk about reappropriation of terms . . . And they just generally ask questions. . . . So then if something does come up around a kid saying [something negative]. A lot of the times I will stop the first couple of times it happens and we get the desks in a big circle and they write for a minute about, you know, what just happened in the classroom, who heard it, what was the context it was spoken in and we just go around and share our feelings around it. And that’s kind of how I deal with it and so the kids . . . I generally tell them the mistakes that I’ve made in responding to students. Here, Lisa is not only questioning the language used in her classroom and the normative logic; she is also diffusing the incendiary power of homophobic language by addressing it in advance of its utterance, and in so doing scaffolding the learning process and providing students the skills they need to look at homophobia and see both its systemic and individual impact. The concern here is that Lisa was in the position to choose whether or not to take up homophobia in an integrated fashion (rather than add and stir) as part of her curricular objectives. When left, as it is, an issue for individual teachers to address, it is all too often triage on the heels of a galvanizing “incident” that demands curricular first aid. Equally there  93  are many teachers who desire to address homophobia critically but, according to OIS facilitators, rarely feel as if they have enough training to address homophobia and its potential curricular outgrowth. Through no fault of their own, professional capacity, teachers constantly face issues that exceed curricular comfort levels, and the add-and-stir resources formally made available. How Do Youth Respond to Homophobia and Harassment? In looking at the research data on homophobia, there is, as previously noted, a disproportionate focus on queer youth as victim. While this may be politically expedient for institutional appeal and academic marketability, the primary result is an inaccurate portrayal of LGBTQ youth as passive and powerless in the face of discrimination and oppression. In talking to youth throughout the course of this research, they had much to say about how they actively faced and reacted to homophobia.19 Lionel and I were talking about a student at his school that was “hugely homophobic” and about a time when he saw him outside of school. Lionel remembered: Like, okay, so I just finished watching Stone of Destiny, you know, I saw a preview screening and I’m walking home with my mom. Oh great. He walks by; yells out, “Hey, yo faggot.” I [go] over and I’m like “you fucking say that to me one more time” and, you know, I’m actually shaking ’cause I’ve had enough of this little shithead and I’m like shaking and I just walk across the street. It’s still yellow so I’m still almost in the zone of getting hit by a car, but I don’t give a shit. I’ve got to get away from him because I’ve given him so much power, like he’s got so much of my power as to, you know, not caring that, you know, when I get close to that power that 19  I discuss heteronormativity in the next chapter. 94  I’ve given away, it makes me sick and it makes me scared, so I had to get away from that or else I would’ve lashed out or he would have lashed out, or something would have happened and it wouldn’t have been good, so I just got away. But it was like I can’t stand that kid just because he’s so biased towards people like me and people that are just different. I was struck by Lionel’s profound sense of self, both in in articulating the loss of power he experienced and in his choice to confront the other youth, and in so doing simultaneously confront larger less immediate issues of homophobia, in front of his mother. As Butler (2001) asks, and answers: If I am first addressed by another, and if this address comes to me prior to my individuation, in what forms then does it come to me? It would seem that one is always addressed in one way or another, even if one is abandoned or abused, since the void and the injury hail one in specific ways. (p. 53) Accordingly, at this moment Lionel occupies a space of subjective emergence, an transitionary affective space in which the pejorative hail facilitates his emergence within and beyond the temporal and material site of trauma. Sometimes, the very act of attending a presentation where LGBTQ issues were being openly discussed encourages students to make enquiries or to stand up and speak to their peers in ways they had not previously. Trudy, a 17-year-old Chinese Canadian lesbian, entreated her classmates as part of a large OIS assembly at her school: Straight doesn’t just mean heterosexual, it can mean straight talk about your own thoughts and prejudices and experiences of homophobia. I want to encourage you to break the silence, even if that means someone taking offense, I don’t mean insulting  95  someone, but just taking a risk and expressing yourself. Prior to her voluntary participation in the OIS event, Trudy was not out to her school. While she was a part of her school’s GSA, only a select group of friends and students either knew or speculated about her sexuality, but on this day Trudy chose to “come out” to the entire room full of students, composed mostly of seniors like her. Of the experience, Trudy said, “right now it’s a very wonderful thing being able to be out in the school and I know I’m in grade twelve and that means I won’t be able to, I only have a few months of any possible consequences here so . . . ” Despite her feelings of accomplishment, her achievement is tainted by the ever-present specter of consequence, of being queer and unapologetically identifying a topography of queerness that both occupies and unearths the heteronormative terrain of the school. Listen Up! What Youth Want Educators to Know In discussing school climate and homophobia, I asked the youth: “If you could sit all your teachers down and talk to them, what would you say?” Lionel had the following advice to give to teachers: so you need to pay more attention to what other students are doing. You also, you need you need to talk to students about these types of things. ’Cause there’s no curriculum for, you know, sexism, racism, homophobia in schools. So you need to put that in to help with the cause. To help with, you know, getting rid of issues because if you don’t teach this generation, then it’s the next—their generation will be like it’s still a problem.  96  Echoing the remarks of Lady Gaga earlier in the chapter, one female participant in the rural focus group also advocated for schools to starting working with children about homophobia early on. She wanted schools to: Start teaching things to kids that are smaller, like elementary school, like grade twos and threes or even kindergarten because once you learn it when you are a kid you like grow up thinking that oh, that’s wrong. Just like people that like you learn, like, oh this is bad when you’re like in kindergarten and you somewhat remember it. Like it’s okay for two people of the same sex to be with each other. It’s okay to have two mommies. And a male participant from the same group suggested: I think with the teaching young children thing, though, I think a lot of the problem comes from parents too because they are educating—for the parents, like if the parents are homophobic and you have a young child in the house, then he’s or she is going to get the idea that it’s wrong to be gay. Like if you say pride parade comes on the TV and the dad’s like, “Turn that show off; that’s disgraceful” or something like that, they are going to see that and think that it’s wrong. And then also when you start to try and start programs like that in the school, like she is saying you get a lot of protest from parents and religious fundamentalists and all that. With each interview I conducted, youth seemed to be stating the same arguments queer researchers and social justice advocates have been making for years, but doing it with a succinctness and uncensored vision reserved for youth, even when they lacked the language or were, at times, contradictory.20 The common thread throughout all of their assertions is a 20  Analyses of the contradictory spaces will be taken up more fully in the next chapter. 97  call for adults, teachers, parents, mentors, and guardians to take a stand against homophobia, to stop perpetuating homophobia in all of its various forms, and to fundamentally alter the curriculum and pedagogies in ways that incorporate new modes of teaching and thinking about homophobic violence while moving toward explicit interrogations of heteronormativity. The curriculum that one male participant from the rural focus group desires utilizes different formats to hold students’ attention. He proposes, “First of all, I’d try to reach out to the students, be it videos, speeches—something that would catch them. As for the teachers they don’t know much about homosexuality or stuff to do with that. I’d try to put them [teachers] into some workshops that could help them learn more.” Kylion, a 13-year-old Native German ally, critiqued what she viewed as ineffective postering at school as a solution: I would say maybe they can try more to get rid of the homophobia because like now all they’re like pretty much all the schools, all they’re trying to do is like the most they’re trying to get rid of it is, just having one poster in the whole school saying, “stop homophobia.” And no one decides to stop and read it like the only thing that people read is “that’s so gay” and there’s like a red circle with a line through it covering it and that’s stupid cause like you think someone is just going to read it and be like oh, well whatever. The desire for a more meaningful and substantive engagement on the part of educators is palpable. Here, too, Lady Gaga advocates for active measures; he suggested that if schools would: squash that bug while it’s still, you know, small, it wouldn’t exist. We’d have a new  98  group of people entering society who are not homophobic ’cause they were taught better than that, but schools aren’t doing that because parents are feeling, you know, this is a really deep subject or they don’t feel comfortable with it, but the truth is, you know, if you’re not going to talk about it now, you’re never going to talk about it. He goes on to recommend that teaching about homophobia and heterosexism should be, you know, how there’s charts for like eating your vegetables. And they’re everywhere; I believe we should replace those vegetable charts with like antihomophobia charts ’cause kids know they’re going to eat their vegetables. Parents talk about vegetables; we do not talk about gay issues in grade school and, you know, they happen in grade school. I’ve been to grade school where kids were like fag and that’s so gay and these are coming from little tiny innocent mouths. Kylion, Lionel, Lady Gaga, and other youth are explicitly sending the message to educators that the passive types of response to homophobia they’ve experienced do not alter the situation in schools. Youth in the study are demanding curriculum that addresses the issues more directly—one that, as Lionel called for, takes up the intersectionality of sexism, racism and homophobia, as well. Conclusion This chapter has pointed to three main findings that I am arguing are critical to understanding OIS and the impacts of its pedagogical aims: (1) youth are dissatisfied with current attempts at addressing homophobia in their schools; (2) neoliberalism and its intensive individualism significantly shape the environment of the school, and hence the environment OIS must work within; and (3) youth want and need adults to better understand  99  both the overt and insidious climate of homophobia and heterosexism within which both adults and students must learn and grow. In many ways antihomophobia discourses have become caught up in a selfperpetuating reactive agenda. As educators, we have stopped listening to our audience and have become mired in the systemic demands of neoliberalism; this situation obscures our ability to see what youth, particularly youth from nondominant positions already know.  100  Chapter 4 OIS in Action: Bridging Antihomophobia and Antiheterosexism Pedagogies  Following from the previous chapter, which outlined the political climate in which antihomophobia pedagogies are undertaken, this second data chapter outlines in some detail the specific content of Out In Schools (OIS) pedagogy, alongside student audience response to both film content and facilitated discussions. This chapter is an analysis of the ways in which OIS facilitations function in educative spaces situated within the context of antihomophobia discourses in education. I offer an exploration of the pedagogical approach of the presentations, analyse two films, and investigate the role of film and student response. Through these analyses, I advance my own theories about a pedagogy that struggles against, reproduces, and maintains the dialogical limitations between students and educators, a limitation indicative of the inadequacies fixed in antihomophobia’s flawed schema. The Presentation OIS enters schools and community centres through an invitation from teachers, administrators, gay-straight alliances (GSAs), and community youth leaders. In the following passage Ross, OIS’s director of education, outlines the way the program solicits invitations: Basically each September we put out a press release for the program and we try to get that out to as many media outlets as possible. So initially we were really solely relying on local newspapers . . . these smaller community papers that are writing a story on us and hopefully a teacher would read that and, um, 101  and call, contact us, to come into their schools and basically that’s how it started . . . it was also the George Straight or Vancouver Sun that did a story on us back then so that was the initial way that we got the word out. Because OIS is part of a media organization, its instinct was to approach publicity and the offering of its services through other media sources, such as small local papers, where the larger organization had had previous contacts. The hunger for programmes such as this was made clear by the speed with which educators responded to OIS’s program offering, and in how quickly news of the facilitations spread across the Lower Mainland. Ross notes: Once we started meeting teachers and they liked the presentation, they were able to sort of tell some of their friends that might work at another school and that helped build the program as well. And then students within the gaystraight alliances started talking as well, and that’s how we established contact. Now we have to do a little bit less legwork I guess. Our contact list of teachers just kind of grew naturally through this as each presentation we did we just had more people on our list. The cumulative effect of students and teachers telling other students and teachers highlights the need for programming addressing LGBTQ issues in educational spaces, and likely the attraction to the specialized and pedagogical approach of using film, which many educators see as relevant, if somewhat untraditional, to youth. The work that OIS and Ross were doing in the schools and community led to the initiative to form an advisory board and an invitation to various community members, along with greater outreach to other community groups. As Ross recalls: We started making conversations with organizations GALE-BC . . . [and] like  102  the BCTF and with the Vancouver School Board’s pride advisory committee, which I sit on. And that helped then kind of really grow the list of contacts even faster and larger because they told two people, and they told two people who told two people . . . to the point where they’d start, teachers and members of those organizations would start bringing our promotional materials to their conferences, workshops, that sort of thing. The organizations that Ross references are all deeply involved in advancing various antihomophobia initiatives and developing anti homophobia curriculum. The workshops and conferences to which Ross refers are typically events that are part of, or associated with, the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation professional development programs. As OIS grew, Ross and the program became entwined with the queer communities’ work in schools. Consequently, Ross received, and continues to receive, more invitations from schools and programmes outside of the Lower Mainland. As of May 2011, one month prior to the end of the 2010–2011 school year, OIS had worked with 24,764 students, delivering 312 presentations to schools and community groups across 22 school districts since its inception five years ago. During 2010–2011, they worked with and facilitated presentations for 8,200 students. While the majority of the presentations occur within the Lower Mainland, more recently, with increased funding and the hiring of additional staff, OIS has been able to extend its reach across the province and respond to an increasing demand for presentations in rural and remote British Columbia. OIS has benefitted from the mounting discourse on bullying, its traction in the media and the wider public (Crosby et al., 2011; Poteat & Espelage, 2005; Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel, 2010; Walton, 2004). Bullying discourses writ large, and their often-  103  generic focus on school violence, have opened doors previously closed to discussions of homophobia (Thurlow, 2001). The broad attention to bullying, however, is a double-edged sword. While the acknowledged need for antihomophobia initiatives points to a trend in awareness of school violence, and, by association, a concern for LGBT issues, these initiatives are awash in the generic address of antibullying. In both rural and urban communities, the bullying discourse is appealing because of its generalizability. For educators whose desire is to be proactive, “bullying” offers a way to address issues of discrimination and violence fueled by racism and homophobia without actually naming the homosexual body and addressing its often contentious presence in the school. Thus, bullying discourses alleviate educators’ anxieties over the sensitivities of a diverse public while simultaneously satiating the public’s desire to address school violence without specifically naming LGBT or racialized bodies. These generic discourses do a disservice to the students on whose raced and sexualized bodies violence is wrought, particularly in rural areas where there are fewer support systems for LGBTQ youth. As Gray (2009) reminds us, “LGBT education advocates fight for space on a crowded agenda of concerns . . . along the way they must contend with thorniness that familiarity and rural anxieties about claims to difference introduce” (p. 83). Tensions over sexual difference and its real and imagined identificatory machinations are not unique to rural settings, but the expression of this anxiety in rural spaces varies in accordance with the social, cultural, and political range and resources of its publics. A Typical Day Films are more than just text and pictures; the introduction of movement and sound gives filmmakers  104  a set of dynamic tools with which to construct and express images of self. —Erica Halverson (2010, p. 2358)  Because much of this chapter focuses on analyses of OIS’s presentations and films, the following is a description of a “typical” presentation that OIS might undertake in a Lower Mainland school, created a composite of the facilitations that I observed. An OIS presentation often begins at the school reception desk. Once OIS has arrived at the school, Ross and the assisting facilitators check in with the school secretary and wait for their school contact, usually a teacher, counselor, or GSA teacher sponsor. The coordinating faculty member—depending on whether OIS will work with one class, a series of classes, or a large assembly—meets the team and escorts them to the facilitation space to review the day’s logistics. OIS begins by setting up the technology required for the presentation, the ease of which varies from school to school. The students file into the class or assembly. It is important to note that students often have little or no prior discussion with their teachers about LGBTQ issues, although in most cases they have been informed about OIS and the subject of the facilitation. The facilitation begins with an introduction of all OIS members present and a brief layout of how the session will proceed. Ross immediately lays the groundwork to connect with the youth, staying on point with a focus on both media and OIS’s diversity curriculum. One such example of Ross’ introductory remarks is as follows: Great. So I’m glad that you guys like films; I like films too so already we’ve got something in common. So as was said, my name is Ross and I work for an  105  organization called Out on Screen. We do a whole bunch of things in Vancouver but probably the thing that we are most known for every year is the annual making for Queer Film Festival. . . . as was mentioned, we are going to talk today a little bit about queer issues, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered issues, and we’re going to watch some films. So with that said as well, I can understand that maybe for some of you this is new material; this is all brand new stuff. And maybe for some of you this is old hat, you’re totally sorted and you understand the issues. If anything today makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable or maybe slightly intimidated that’s absolutely understandable; I totally understand that. Ross is an animated facilitator, as evidenced by his high-energy approach of speaking loudly, gesticulating and actively occupying the space of the auditorium or classroom, making eye contact with youth, smiling, and generally showing a consistent level of enthusiasm. He begins by talking about who OIS is and transitions quickly to his goals for the day, all the while letting youth know that discomfort is both normal and understandable. This may allow youth a moment to reflect on whether they feel uncomfortable and why. This may offer space later in the facilitations for questions and discussion. Ross continues laying out his goals and objectives: I’m hoping that by the end of the assembly this morning that hopefully any questions you have will have been answered or any sort of uncomfortableness might have gone away, and hopefully we can have a bit of a group discussion. The way this presentation works is that, really, I do rely on you guys to have some input. So whenever you want, raise your hand and we will get your question, and hopefully say it loud enough so the rest of the group can hear ’cause I’m sure you’ll have questions,  106  and I’m sure if you have a question there’s probably somebody else in the room that has the same question. So that will work well for both of us. Here, Ross sets the groundwork for the possibility that the “uncomfortableness” might go away, Secondly, he wants the youth to know that their input is critical and valued, and their questions important: I have up here on the screen a slide that says “ How would your film change the world?” Figure 1 OIS Facilitation Slide  How would your film change the world?  So I want you to also think about throughout the presentation today about art or film or photography. Whatever your sort of interest is. Think about art today as more than just painting a picture. If you can think about art as a way to influence people, it’s much more than that. It’s a way that you can influence other people. How many 107  people have seen a movie in the last say month? Put your hands up! Here, in a short span of time, Ross has introduced the theme of the presentation, straightforwardly addressed issues of potential discomfort, opened up opportunities for and encouraged the youths’ ideas, coming full circle in his remarks back to media. All of this signals an interest in and an attention to notions of relevance. In the facilitations, media offers a space that serves as a less charged and, therefore, highly effective jumping-off point for topics of sexual diversity and homophobia. Through its engagement of media, often specifically independent youth-produced media, OIS shares a common ground with the audience and is able to meet youth on their own terms about topics that are fraught with discomfort and social stigma. Media serves to abstract the conversation of homophobia away from individuals within the school, families, friend circles, and other highly personalized conversational arenas. Ross typically has three to four films on hand and makes a decision about which of the films he will show once he has seen the audience and asked a few preliminary questions. In this way he gauges the best film for each particular audience. Film selection, and the ability to gauge the audience, is I believe, one of the keys to OIS’s success with students. Not all audiences will respond well to particular types of humour that require drawing upon shared understandings that youth may not have, just as all audiences may not be ready to deal with a more complex film that deals with the intersectionality of race, sexuality, class, and so forth. Equally, a primarily Chinese or South Asian audience may respond more positively or with greater interest to a film that discusses issues of homophobia and sexual diversity from the perspective of a filmmaker who shares their ethnic or racial community and attempts to integrate and be sensitive to issues specific to that community. While, of course, every  108  community is diverse regardless of its racial and ethnic makeup, there are elements specific to each community, particularly when it comes to the culturally specificities of sexuality and gender. One could argue that Ross and OIS are employing culturally relevant pedagogies that not only rely upon the cultural make-up of the audience but respect what the audience brings to the conversation (Ladson-Billings, 1995). Lisa, an urban high school teacher, commenting on the two films shown at a large assembly-style OIS presentation at her school with grades 8 through 10, noted that: I think with the Sissy French Fry film my grade eights were able to identify norms in society very, very, simply after the film, but with the Peking Turkey one, which we spoke about afterwards, they were able to talk about the intersections a lot more and considering that the demographic of my school is I would say sixty to seventy percent Chinese. I thought that that was—I wouldn’t want to give either of them up to be totally honest with you—I think they both have very important things and I would almost do the Sissy French Fry one first, and then talk about some of the complexities around it second and, like, stereotyping within groups and different levels of identity ... OIS’s consistency in having films on hand that more closely resemble the ethnic and racial demographics of the very diverse classroom populations they encounter and Ross’ ability to assess the audience serve to constantly reinvigorate the program and contributes to its effectiveness overall. Preliminary discussions are followed by a short information session about LGBTQI issues, including dissection of the LGBTQI acronym itself. This session incorporates a series of slides that highlight current statistical and historical data regarding gay and lesbian issues  109  in Canada, including gay marriage, “at-risk” statistics regarding homophobic violence, substance abuse, school dropout rates, and suicide. The issues are provocative and are meant to capture the young audience’s attention. For example, in one facilitation, the following exchange occurred:21 Ross: The point is that films are a really good way to, one, entertain but they are also a really good way to get a message across. The films I’m going to show you today are actually made by folks that were in and around your age. And at least one of them was made here in Vancouver so hopefully you’ll like that. But I’m going to tell you a little bit about why I’m here today and why I sort of like to come back to schools like X. Seventy percent of queer students feel that their schools are unsafe. . . . If I could get everyone to stand up for a second. And I’m going to get everyone from about here to sit down. So the rest of you that are standing that’s about seventy percent of the room. So I feel like you can trust statistics but it’s really much easier if you can see them; so you can sit down now. So if you think about, if you think about this school and if you think about that seventy percent of students feel they are unsafe because of their sexual orientation so we saw how many people that could be in a percentage, what do you think happens after awhile if you don’t feel safe in your school? Does anyone have any guesses? Yeah. Student 1: Suicide. Ross: Right, okay, the ultimate what was said down here was potentially suicide so yeah it could lead to that ultimately down the road, but there’s sort of some 21  The long excerpt is included to offer fuller context. 110  other things that start happening if you don’t feel safe in your school. Yeah, in the corner. Student 2: Depression? Ross: Depression, absolutely. Yeah—way up in the back. Student 3: Skipping school. (field notes, October 18, 2010) It is possible that the students are, to some degree, parroting back the information just given by OIS through the slides, but, in recalling the facts and articulating them in the space of the school in a shared audience with their peers, they are also relating the consequences of homophobia, if only indirectly, to their own lives. The first film is then shown, followed by a discussion and a series of prompting openended questions ranging from general questions about film media to questions specific to the particular film such as: How was this film different from what we see in mainstream media? What do you think the director of the film was trying to show? Did you see any stereotypes? For example, one question asked with regard to the film Rock Pockets (which is analysed in some detail later in this chapter), engages the students thinking about the privileges of heterosexuality, one of the only times there is an opportunity to do so: Ross: Um, so I asked you to think about what happens when same sex couples go on dates and maybe what you might take for granted. Does anyone have any thoughts about that given what he’s done in this film? Yeah? F Student: Well like when a straight couple go on a date they can do whatever, and go where other people are and do what they want . . . when a gay couple, or whatever, go on a date they get stared at and. . . . Ross: They get attention, right? Yeah. Why?  111  F student: Because it’s not “normal.” Ross: It’s “not normal.” Thanks for doing the quotes. Yeah, for sure, so there’s sort of these ideas what’s normal and what’s not normal right. Or what’s natural and what’s not natural. . . . I’m sure most of you don’t come from that sort of environment; I don’t and most high school students don’t. Most people don’t. . . . But yeah exactly, um, so if you’re on a same-sex date you’re going to get a lot more attention no matter where you are. Even if you’re in a progressive place like Vancouver or Canada. Here, the film opens up an opportunity to address the normativity embedded in an everyday issue such as dating, which is, in essence, a conversation about heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is, I would argue, rarely introduced or discussed in standard antihomophobia curricula, which focus on the individual and individual forms of hate. When Ross stated that “I’m sure most of you don’t come from that sort of environment,” he was suggesting that notions of normativity, of “what is normal,” are not often addressed at home or in school. Equally significant is the fact that students recognize the limitations and inherent pressures of same-sex dating but are ill equipped to see it as part of a larger conversation linked to discrimination and homophobic violence. The separation of these two conversations—homophobia and heteronormativity—is telling and endemic to issues of silence embedded in the current antihomophobia initiatives and underscore its pedagogical fault lines. Time permitting, a second, shorter film is shown, and additional prompts are given. The films, which range from two to twelve minutes on average, are shown in their entirety, with few exceptions, in order to maintain the artistic integrity of the filmmakers and their  112  work. A second film often facilitates a greater response, as the audience, if they are going to open up, and they usually do, settle into to the presentation and the topic, and begin to ask more direct questions, either about the film or about questions relating to “homosexuality” more generally. In the following quote Ross sets the stage for student questions by opening up the types of questions that might be addressed. In this example, the discussion followed a short documentary entitled We Belong, which highlights school violence, one young man’s own experiences with homophobic bullying and his legal fight against his school for not responding. The questions deal with issues specific to the film but relate to media within a broader context. Ross begins with: So I asked before that short film to get you guys to think a little bit about what kind of impact CJ had with his film on his community. Did anyone catch sort of some of the things that by picking up a camera and documenting the bullying that was going on in his school, what was sort of the impact that he had? Did anyone catch that? No? What happened at the school board level in this film is that his school board in his district and in his town actually had no policy or any sort of rules when it came to discrimination based on sexual orientation so actually by making this film CJ had a huge impact on not only on his family but on the school board and on the community in his school district. So again, if you think about the question that I put out to you earlier that said what can you do with art, how can your film change the world? Well indeed this is sort of an example of how CJ, just by seeing something that he had an issue with in school by picking up a camera and doing something about it, he had a massive impact on his community. Did you guys take part in the pink T-shirt day at  113  your schools? Before, in the past? So does anyone know about pink T-shirt antibullying day and how it started? Does anyone know the origins of that day? Ellsworth (2008) argues that the viewing experience—that is, the exchange that occurs between film and its audience—is not merely idiosyncratic or voluntary, but also, and perhaps most notably with respect to this research, referential, “a projection of particular kinds of relations of self to self, and between self, others, knowledge, and power” (p. 76). The film imagines the viewer, and the viewer in turn interprets the film’s address, the articulations of which form the viewer response. Because the film and its viewer are never singular or unified, its mode of address has “multiple entry points” for the viewer (p. 78). Accordingly, then, the student viewer in the OIS audience is constructing meaning based on his or her experience of the film’s message and mode of address and the ways in which those messages resonate, or not. The filmic curriculum is not closed but is, by design, open to individual interpretation. While Ross’ assessment of the temporality of his own presence is cogent, it fails to account for the social interests and vulnerabilities specific to this generation of media-savvy youth. These are youth for whom social media such as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter, while platforms for popularity and social ostracizing, are also the place of knowledge dissemination and social development. In Mary Gray’s (2009) examination of media reception amongst LGBT-identifying youth in rural America she asserts that youth “use new media to enhance their sense of inclusion and to broaden, imagined gay communities…and experience new media as one among several ephemeral moments of public space and belonging (p.15).” Likewise and increasingly, youth, particularly those most commonly referred to as millennials, have grown up in an environment in which media  114  facilitates their participation in a “common culture—sharing experiences, reaching decisions, negotiating values—depending even less on the co-location of participants” (Livingstone, 2005, p. 177). This is not to argue that social media platforms are a panacea of social connectivity and acceptance, for as Gray also asserts new media technologies often “reflect, reproduce and are embedded with a given society’s gender and sexual mores and ethics” (Gray, 2009, p.16). It stands to reason, then, that during OIS’s discussion period a shared media witnessing would be a point of convergence for the youth audience, the possibility of further discussion, and social repercussions extending beyond the place and space of the facilitation. As an additional source of encouragement, facilitators have a bag of candy that they distribute to both those who ask questions and those who answer them. More often than not, this tactic evokes a number of one-word answers for the purpose of receiving candy. Yet it does serve to break the ice and the silence and can lead to a domino effect inciting questions that piggy-back off one another, coalescing in a fruitful dialogue among the youth audience. Occasionally, it also offers a few poignant and insightful remarks, such as the following candy-inspired exchange that occurred just 2:26 into the facilitation at one suburban Lower Mainland high school: Ross: Oh yeah, and I do bribe, so I brought some candy. If you want to put your hand out you’ll get some candy. See I knew that would happen. Yeah, what’s important about these issues? Why am I here why am I here talking to you? Girl:  Because a lot of like youth our age, like, might not be educated and they might have a lot of insecurities or questions around their sexuality.  115  As Halverson (2010) reminds us, “the sharing of narratives of personal experience with others provides opportunities for interaction around personal assumptions, beliefs, and presentation of self” (p. 2355). Media both facilitate and complicate the narrative experience, while youths’ ever-developing media savvy does little to negate the developmental realities of adolescence, as evidenced in the response above. Theirs is a complicated and deeply predetermined space that requires them to navigate a number of identificatory landmines in an increasing broad public arena. The presentation ends with the viewing of one or two youth-created PSAs, again depending on time, and the attention and energy of the audience. The facilitator then briefly tells the youth about the PSA competition and offers a summarizing description of the competition, its previous winners, and encourages those in the audience to create their own film utilizing whatever technology and equipment they have available to them. Ross explains: The focus of this part of the presentation is on media as a tool for getting your message out there—whatever that message might be, and about film and media as a vehicle for creating social change and making your voice heard. (field notes, January 2010) Here the presentation has come full circle in its encouragement of youth audience as potential youth film producers, films that would potentially synthesize youths’ own life experience, which now necessarily includes the curricular content of the OIS presentation as part of its curricular repertoire.  116  Facilitator Hopes and Presentation Dreams The adults who work as facilitators and coordinate the program have their own goals and objectives for the program. Throughout the interviews I conducted, there was ample testimony to a programmatic commitment to assist schools in becoming more welcoming and safer spaces for all youth. The idea of safer spaces resonates with Richard, a 25-year-old white facilitator, who remarked: I feel like Out in Schools does create like a positive space for like talking about these issues and I think it’s really important like and especially not that I think I’m not your stereotypical gay or, like, I don’t—I don’t know, like, how the world views my sexuality on my skin but I think it’s great for to go to schools and to realize that I’m not Jack on Will and Grace I’m not Elton John; like I’m not, I can be like, and I’m you know, I’m flamboyant but it’s not like. . . . I also do construction. Here, Richard wants to produce positive spaces but also, perhaps at a more personal level, desires to counteract some of the media images of gay men and a particular stereotypical depiction. Richard continues, stating that: Personally my objective is to just like at least connect with like a couple kids in the audience. Like not that I’m like hey, what’s your name? Like go up and call them it. I just like to make sure that I’m engaging at least a couple kids. If not then I’m doing something wrong I feel. . . . Out in Schools’ objectives—I think we are just there to educate. . . the next thing I’d like to for them is like to make the connection in their head . . . when we talk about suicide the kids like talk about the sincerity of how it can affect people—it’s great.  117  Phillip, a 29-year-old Iranian Canadian, who identifies as homosexual, said he was shocked to discover that sexual diversity was not currently part of a standardized high school curriculum in British Columbia. He argues, “I was very naive thinking that I’m an adult now, I’ve been out of high school since 1988 so yeah it must be taught but it’s not so . . . it’s scary.” He also echoes the program’s desire to remain current and become a dynamic and evolving part of the communities it serves: I think Ross, the director of the program, is a role model and I think I would like to personally—that’s my short-term goal. For the information to flow the same way it does with Ross and also to evolve as a group if we all of us will stay with the program to evolve as a group or whoever is going to join the program evolve and evolve over time because I’m sure that in the next four to five years we have to change the program to suit where we are. In general the facilitators’ own goals and objectives, if less clearly defined, closely echo those of OIS. However, their inspirations for joining the program come across as deeply personal, often relating to their own memories of high school and experiences of homophobia both past and present as a motivating factor. Reflections on Student Responses Student responses to the presentations were, not surprisingly, varied. Generally, however, student responses stayed neutral or positive. When there was no opportunity for discussion after the presentation (and where positive responses were more obvious and easier to read), positivity seem to be denoted by nodding heads, smiles, and attentive posture. Neutral responses lacked the activity of nods and smiles but still demonstrated attentiveness by watching the films and not talking to their neighbours, drawing, or sleeping. At times,  118  both facilitator and youth worker were surprised at the level of attentiveness and positivity that youth portrayed. At a youth group facilitation in a rural-suburban context, the youth were high energy, talkative, and, according to John, the youth worker, “often had difficulty settling down and paying attention.” After the film, John told me how thrilled he was by their silence and alertness during the film and said that he was amazed at how well they responded. I, too, was quite surprised by how a group of very animated, performative young people were so suddenly quiet and attentive to a documentary film about one young man’s experience of homophobia. During the film, I looked up to see if perhaps the experiences being described in the film had evoked snickers, or other signs of resistance, but there were no signs of mocking. Instead, what I saw was a room full of queer kids identifying with the homophobia of the young man in the film. I saw a film resonate and capture their attention in a way I, or any other adult speaker [presenter], probably never could (field notes, November 19, 2009). I am suggesting, here, that the film did not engender mocking because I did not see students laugh, make sarcastic comments or any of the other markers that I understand as mockery or glee at another’s expense. Having spent over two years observing and participating in presentations, this screening stood out and continues to stand out to me as indicative of a pattern of youth reactions to OIS films that I saw repeated at the facilitations I attended. When facilitators were speaking there was often attention given, but also signs of fidgeting, side-bar whisperings and eye rolling; these were not present during presentation of the films and after the films. In addition, youth who did not speak prior to the film screening spoke up and contributed to the dialogue. These repeated observations allow me to forefront  119  the importance of film and how its use in these circumstances engendered particular and unique responses. The responses were also less positive; for example at one urban high school facilitation, “Several of the students groaned at the kissing scene. Students I’ve witnessed are unaware that their ill-concealed negative reactions to gay scenes in the film are part of homophobic behavior” (field notes, June 2, 2009). There was little opportunity for the facilitator to respond to the groans and this led to my questioning at the time, and I wondered, “We are somehow fostering a diverse, more ‘tolerant’ atmosphere. Yet tolerance, it seems to me, is built on a belief that in overcoming or subverting individual overt expressions of violence and antihomophobic expression is enough” (field notes, June 2, 2009). I continue to think about what it means if moments such as these are not interrupted at a workshop on antihomophobia—what are the chances of interrupting it at any other time? I am suggesting that this example points to the importance of addressing the subtle, less violent acts of homophobia. Otherwise, I wonder at what message being sent, and how it reinforces an individualistic response to homophobia (and heterosexism, which I discuss more fully in the next chapter). During some presentations, youths reacted with laughter, which was not always easy to read. At times, it was easy to understand because the facilitator or a film would use humour. However, at other times the silent discomfort and nervous laughter seemed to be borne out of the idea of queerness itself. For example at one urban middle school facilitation, there were many giggles when Ross suggested that some people in the audience (consisting of 120 middle school students) may be undecided, or thinking about experimenting (in reference to their sexuality). He said this in reference to a previous statement about the  120  unintended consequences of those who so often hear “that’s so gay” from their peers. The laughter can be read as discomfort with discussing the unfamiliar and resistance to that which is stigmatized and with which one does not want to identify. Deciphering the multiple and complex meaning of youth laughter as response is beyond the analytical scope of this study. That being said, there is something significant in the nervous laughter that the OIS presentations and screenings sometimes engender, as is discussed in the analysis of the film Peking Turkey. It was also interesting to observe the moments when the facilitations go productively awry or when, as Ellsworth (1997) notes, the mode of address “misses” (p. 38). During one urban middle school facilitation, I noted: This is really the first time I have seen OIS have to deal with the audience taking issue with the use of stereotypes and exaggerated “norms” in the film Peking Turkey, a crowd favourite. This would be a good opportunity to discuss dominant norms if there were sufficient context and background knowledge available within the audience to do so. Instead the discussion remains at the level of “discrimination” in more generalized forms, a discussion in which the other is made obvious and becomes reified as the point of discussion, whereas issues of whiteness and heterosexuality remain unmentioned and unaddressed, as do issues of privilege and normativity. (field notes, January 15, 2010) There are two salient points to be made here. The first is that in the OIS presentations there is room for the youth to “talk back” to the films and to OIS pedagogies (which OIS then uses as a way to modify their presentations). In many educational spaces, there is little time for students to actively critique what is taught; OIS’s desire to encourage this type of scrutiny  121  models the analytical thinking necessary to move from individual actions and responses to an understanding of the role of the systemic—of heteronormativity, for example. Secondly, the difficulty with which OIS works at the level of intersectionality and the normativity of whiteness and heterosexuality in their presentations is, in part, an issue of time within the school. Most often, the presentations are limited to a 1–1.5-hour slot, where a majority of time is taken up by the viewing of film. While OIS is hopeful that teachers both prepare their students before the workshops and debrief with them afterwards, there is no guarantee that this is occurring. Ross noted that he is often aware when students are prepped for the presentations by the questions they ask and the responses they give. However, after the films, there is limited time for responses and this leaves little or no time to introduce the issue of heteronormativity, for example. The inability to discuss heteronormativity, especially in concert with race and ethnicity—to say nothing of exploding the solidification of identity constructions—is, I would argue, an underlying issue foundational to both the problem of antihomophobia education (as outlined in the previous chapter) and a disconnect from queer theory and politics (analysed in Chapter Five) The Complicated Space of Queer(ness) One issue regarding queerness, and a point of political stagnation, that I keep returning to, is that we [queer theorists/educational theorists] are always attempting to identify what exactly queer destabilizes with the dominant normative frames of gender and sexuality. This is a static identificatory move grounded in “identity politics,” antithetical to the originary destabilizing desires of queerness, and not at all unlike antihomophobia pedagogies that work first and foremost to name the subject of homophobic violence, and in so doing reify the otherness within  122  homophobic discourse. (field notes, July 23, 2008, urban high school facilitation) Despite its sometimes paradoxically normalizing employment, Queer is not an alternative to the extended naming, the so-called alphabet soup of identities like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, two-spirited, and so forth. Yet, it is often used as such by educators and theorists both inside and outside queer theory (Luhmann, 1998). The uses of queer within OIS are not entirely unproblematic and point to the complicated status of queer potentiality in the current political climate. In interviews and conversations, OIS facilitators articulate queer as a theory-grounded alternative that extends flexibility and defiance to understandings of sexuality, gender and identity. Yet, most often, in both presentations and the OIS curriculum, queer is deployed as a stable referent; that is, in practice, often utilized as a placeholder for LGBT (QQI, etc.). For example, the following slides (Figure 2) are offered in the early part of the presentations prior to showing videos:  123  Figure 2 OIS Facilitation Slides 2  124  Facilitators define queer as ”a kind of an umbrella term”; and much of the data, slides, and statistics used as support materials to frame discussions move metonymically between queer and LGBT. Some students, particularly those with less experience or exposure to queer communities and queer community organizations, take up the umbrella usage of queer’s definition. After an OIS presentation, one student audience member noted in his written comments: “The term ‘queer’ sums up lots of terms like gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.,” while another stated: “queer is now an acceptable term to use. It describes all of the different sexualities of people into one.” A number of students also named what they understood to be the “7 different kinds of groupings under the word queer” and that “the word queer is now a sociably acceptable.” In part these students, who were at two different presentations, were able to repeat the “knowledge,” or content, that the presentations offered, but I was unable to ascertain their understanding of context. Like the audience members responding to Ross’ prompts earlier in this chapter, there is a pedagogical mimicry occurring that is not without merit but offers some pause in pedagogical assessment. OIS is exemplary of a potential (re)visioning of a pedagogy informed by youth and a queered approach. Despite this, they, too, are caught between a political rock and an institutional hard place. The OIS program and its facilitators use existing “teacher guidelines” in the development of their own recently developed and OIS-published BC Teachers Learning Resource Guide, where there was a conscious decision to use LGBTQ throughout in place of queer, and exclusive of questioning (field notes, March 2008). They do so in keeping with the mission of the VSB, whose support they depend upon for the ongoing success of their program. The resulting product, while highly successful in its ability to maintain the integrity of its inclusion of peer-to-peer youth initiatives, sacrifices the  125  possibility of countering the silence of heteronormativity and neoliberal visions of homogenous inclusivity. Despite its ongoing success, Out in School’s institutional dependence “reflects a series of strategic compromises that have enormous ramifications for queer youth” (Rasmussen et al., 2004, p. 5). The common vacillation over terminology between gay and queer points to the larger issue of what can be tolerated and understood in public discussions of queerness. The queer body is only palatable if it is clearly identifiable as other, and it is made recognizable, in part, through the familiarity of language. This is particularly true of antihomophobia discourse, whose proponents must walk a fine line between liberal ideals of tolerance and inclusion and the desire to advance a queer politics of refusal. Brown (2008) brings together tolerance’s home within liberalism and neoliberalism when she states: “Moreover, as is the case with liberalism, the American culture of individualism, and neoliberal market rationality, tolerance masks its own operation as a discourse of power and a technology of governmentality” (p. 19). Keeping in mind Dean’s (2009) supposition that neoliberalism has effectively usurped the language of the political Left, and by extension the language of queer theory and politics, and adding to the mix Brown’s (2008) observation that tolerance is a tool of depoliticization, the negotiations of antihomophobia initiatives become increasingly complex. Queer Missteps In the fall of 2009 I had the opportunity to do organize a film presentation at a queer youth group housed in a suburban community centre, utilizing OIS’s films. As is the case with many drop-in centres for marginalized youth, the centre was a source of food and shelter in addition to being a place of socialization and community. The youth consisted of primarily homeless and street-involved queer and allied youth, many of whom had been  126  regulars at the shelter for some time, according to one of the codirectors. After the screening I was also given the opportunity to conduct a post-facilitation focus group. I was not surprised to hear that the youth didn’t really have a lot of enthusiasm for school and education as a solution to homophobia, but I was disheartened. I thought perhaps there would be one story of hope, or something that they would say that would surprise me—but this experience was similar to others I’ve had in talking with youth, in that the homophobia they encounter takes place, for the most part, in the school, in their classrooms, and occasionally comes from their teachers. There are no unprovoked conversations about homophobia, no concerted or sustained effort to introduce antihomophobia into the school environment. This is coupled by a complete absence of any critical discussion of “normal,” and why the concept of normalcy, i.e., the heteronormative, might be problematic. (field notes, Youth Centre facilitation / focus group, October 14, 2009) The work that the leader of the group had undertaken previously was evident as the youth were facile in defining terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Equally, they both defined and discussed homophobia in the film and drew parallels to their schools and families. The youth spoke of teacher and administrator responses and overall were eager to report their own lack of faith in teachers to solve the problems in schools spaces. While the youth were less familiar with the concept of heteronormativity, as such, the group members were clearly educated and fairly sophisticated in their understandings of homophobia, largely through their own personal experience. The idea of normativity is so deeply engrained that it even permeates the one queer space available to these youth. During the postfilm discussion during a presentation at a  127  queer community youth group, the allied peers revealed a deeply engrained belief about heteronormative reproduction, which, in turn, became as an example of why queer, gay, and lesbian identity “is not normal.” The queer youth resisted and attempted to react against the normativity being expressed by their allied peers with loud groans and explications of “no,” but they lacked a language from which to resist, other than to state “that’s wrong” or “no, we are as “normal as you.” It appears as though there are no words available to them, no knowledge of an alternative to express and formulate a defense against the normative logic of their heterosexual peers. I was witnessing the byproduct of neoliberal logic. That is, the allied youth embodied tolerance by paradoxically voicing acceptance of their peers’ queerness and still seeing their own desire, relationships, and future participation in traditional familial structures as being fundamentally at odds with what they saw as the queer youths’ otherness, against that which they asserted a “more natural way of being.” One girl making the bulk of these assertions about normativity had also made a point of performing her sexuality earlier in the evening. In conversation with her peers, just prior to the official start of the group meeting, she had demonstrated her “skill” at fellating a banana. This incident with the banana would provoke a discussion later in the evening between one side of the room and the other. At some point the girl with the banana calls one of the queerly identified girls to her from across the room and said “you saw what I could do with a banana,” to which the queer girl responded derisively, “what do you think I have that I am going to put in there”? The straight-identified girl was proffering her earlier sexual performance as an affirmation of her heterosexuality—an assertion directed at her queerly identified peer. Despite the queerness of the space, the queer-identified youth’s response to her straight-identified peer placed her in a position of resistance against the dominant  128  markers of normativity established by her peer’s heterosexual self-affirmations. What is most disturbing and discouraging is that the young queer people in this focus group, who have been exposed to so much homophobia in their own lives, who were intimately familiar with queer community resources and public debates of sexual difference, and who confidently articulated the basic tenants of antihomophobia education were so easily confounded in the face of the normative discourses wielded by their more privileged peers. Barriers to Pedagogical Questioning of Normativity The desire to incorporate queer critiques of normativity with educational spaces needs to be understood within the unique challenges of each district and school. Queer objectives are further complicated by the nature of curricular and pedagogical reform within the current educational system and its demands, including growing measures of accountability and highstakes testing, and a particular adherence to the Ministry’s outlined Integrated Resource Packages (IRPs). Certainly, within the given constraints OIS pedagogies represent a break from the normative delivery of antihomophobia curricula. They represent a desire to employ queer pedagogies that create a platform for open engagement and critical discussion. Yet the organization, its facilitators, and the counselors, teachers, and students who invite them are variously constrained by the demands of an educational system steeped in neoliberal rhetoric and practice. At one end of the antihomophobia educational spectrum is a rhetoric that fuels frustrations and the desire for a renewed and queered politics, while at the other end this same rhetoric coupled with liberal ideas of and tolerance and individualism breeds an unsettling complacency. This complacency was clearly characterized by one of the more senior OIS facilitators, Philip, who noted:  129  The gay community is coasting on achievements that have been done before, and now they see there are gay characters on TV, and gay marriage is legalized—so therefore our job is done, we can relax now. Whereas there is so much going on, still, when there two guys holding hands in public, their body language, people’s body language . . . it’s so harmful. (male OIS facilitator, age 29, gay) Here, I am arguing that complacency is not an individualistic trait but collective— borne of the difficulty of inculcating change in neoliberal times. What is rewarded in schools is often that which does not require radical alterations of curricula and pedagogy (such as Gay Day, mentioned above). Complacency, as Duggan (Duggan & Muñoz, 2009) notes, “is the affect of homonormativity” (p. 280) a “politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them” (Duggan, 2002). To echo my participant: how has complacency become endemic, mistaking recognizability for equity, and a queer body saturated with meaning for acceptance? This is not a complacency resting on the individual; rather a collective complacency systemically shored up and rewarded. A Pedagogical Move: Rock Pockets Ross: . . . This first film is about dating and it’s actually was made by one of my favourite Canadian film makers. The films I show you’re not going to see at the Silver City theatres; these are all independent films. This guy is from Edmonton. He’s in a punk rock band and he’s a gay filmmaker from Edmonton who’s actually got some notoriety now. This is a film he made about two years ago and it was sort of basically made to get the average heterosexual person kind of thinking about what you take for granted when you go on a date with somebody of the opposite sex. I’m  130  just going to let the film speak for itself and then we can have a chat later about your thoughts on that. So this film is called Rock Pockets. (high school facilitation, March 2009) Even with the concerns raised above, and the in-between spaces OIS pedagogies occupy as both antihomophobic and anti-heteronormative, OIS is able to introduce curricula and pedagogy, however limited, that destabilizes pedagogical norms, simultaneously moving to disrupt some assimilative pedagogies and reproducing others. Rock Pockets (Anderson, 2007) is introduced, here, as an exemplar of one popular and frequently offerings within OIS’s growing catalogue of films. Rock Pockets is an illustration of a film that begins to push the envelope in terms of queering existing antihomophobic dialogues. Its narrative invites an engagement with normativity in the form of dating and the heterosexual matrix on which dating rituals function. Rock Pocket is a monologue that begins with establishing the central character, the filmmaker as a young boy who is awkward and wears braces, by describing a trip to the fair when he was ten years old. The filmmaker-protagonist describes his feelings as: just outraged at all the hot banger couples walking around with their hands in each other’s tight back pockets—just walking around being hot, being older than me, throwing baseballs at china plates and corrugated tin, and winning mirrors with, you know, the cover art of the Scorpions Blackout album on them, or whatever. I remember standing there and feeling completely cheated, and just totally . . . doomed. Like I would never have a hot rock-and-roll boyfriend to walk around with his hand in my back pocket and his in mine. And even if I did, I knew we wouldn’t be able to just do that, you know, without it being some really—big—deal.  131  This film works at a number of levels to effectively resonate with youth. It deftly straddles the familiar discomfort of adolescence, taking up issues of exclusion and belonging. It addresses the desire for longing emblematic of youth: the longing for intimacy and relationship, which, in the case of our narrator-filmmaker, is a desire for a same-sex relationship. The filmmaker juxtaposes his desire against the heterosexuality he sees all around him at the fair. Significantly, the juxtaposition of heterosexuality does not create the stereotypical othering that often develops when heterosexuality is introduced to a queer narrative. In so doing the longing of the 10-year-old boy is normalized within the context of desire that underscores the film’s monologue. The knowledge that a same sex union would not be possible for this young man—that no such union exists within the realm of his social imaginary—without it being seen as “some big deal” is revealed early on, and is a profoundly straightforward acknowledgement of homophobia. It is a homophobia that is introduced straightforwardly as part of this 10-year-old’s worldview, as it is for many youth. Like the rest of the adult world around him, it is a reality over which he, like other 10-year-olds, indeed like most adolescents, has little to no control; it just is. As the film progresses, years later in a the narrative trajectory, the narrator, now a young man presumably in his late teens or early twenties, is in a band and is making a music video. The filmmaker remembers the “outraged 10-year-old” of his youth and his memories serve as the inspiration for his current video undertaking—the one we, the audience, are watching. He enacts a kind of rebelliousness by calling up “the tightest-jeans-wearing dude” he knows and asks him to participate in the video. Trevor’s friend, the engineer of his band’s CD, is a longhaired, bearded young man with a swagger, agrees. The friend, as it turns out, is straight. They walk around the fair, their arms around each other, hands in each other’s  132  back pockets, and our narrator realizes aloud that he was right when he was 10. People stared, it was a big deal; the guy he was with wasn’t his partner; he was straight. It is not the experience Trevor wanted, it isn’t the experience he longed for when he was ten and coming into his queerness. And yet, in a moment of optimism, the filmmaker acknowledges that other young people probably saw him that day, and the film cuts to a shot of a young blondhaired girl staring at them in disbelief. The film ends with the narrator reflecting on our current historical moment in a note of coalition building. For Trevor, the point seems to be that of witnessing, of working together to make change. The film is slick; its visual elements resonate with a contemporary audience—fast paced, clever, and raw. The film’s mise en scène is captured by the stripped-down, handheld feel. It depicts a walk through the fair framing images typical of any amusement park: rides, winding pathways of the fairground with memory-driven cutaways. The minimalist, drumdriven rock-and-roll soundtrack composed and played by the filmmaker lends an indie edge to the film. Images, narrative overlay, and soundtrack blend to effectively produce a portrait of Trevor as a young queer man struggling against the normative boundaries of the world around him. From the standpoint of character representation, the young man in the film, the gay central character, does not embody stereotypes either in his presentation or in his desire. There are none of the usual trappings of what has come to be recognized as “gay” in the popular sense; long-haired, rock-n-roll–loving indie boys are not what society associates with young gay men, and in that respect the film is queer. Equally atypical is the choice of an amusement park for the production and performance of queer identity. Fairgrounds in general have been the filmic site of heterosexual adolescent development and the subject of  133  summer romances (Adventureland, 2009), the loss of innocence and heterosexual coming of age (Grease, 1978), and masculine expressions of bravado and battles won (The Lost Boys, 1987). Overly simplified in its vision? Yes. Problematic? Somewhat. And yet the film resonates with youth in OIS audiences, as does its fun, edgy, contemporary optimism. Ross notes that Rock Pockets “usually gets a fairly good response, um, I don’t know whether it’s because of the punk-rock soundtrack or it’s the tight jeans or what it is, but I just wanted to show that one for a couple of reasons. One because it was made by a local Canadian filmmaker, which I think is really important” (Interview 1). Youths talked about how they liked the film, or were interested in the topic. They thought it was enjoyable and fun. After the film Ross, opened the discussion of the film with: one of the things Trevor mentioned in the film is not everybody had a problem with the fact that there was two guys walking around with their hands in each other’s pockets. Some people really thought it was great but he did have that issue. The other thing I want to mention about the film before we move on is the reason why Trevor made this film and I know this because I’ve talked with him on several occasions was that he wanted to prove a point by going to the fair with his “straight friend” quote unquote. And the thing was that in reality he just wanted to go on a date to the fair and so he sort of says at the end of the film like it was fun, it was sassy but it really wasn’t what he actually wanted and he got to sort of re-enact a bit of a thought that he had when he was ten years old. So I think that’s kind of important to sort of think about the sort of the spaces you might take for granted if you’re heterosexual versus sort of what someone who is attracted to the same sex has to kind  134  of put up with at times. (urban school facilitation) And yet the questions that youth walk away with remain much the same as they might have had watched films that are not made by a younger person and not queered. The crucial difference is that the audience is engaged throughout the educative process in the narrator’s story, a queer story, a story that refutes stereotypes and raises the issues of heteronormative privilege, even if it does not name it. Some of the questions that were asked at screenings I attended included “is being gay—are you born it?” and, perhaps more of a statement than a question “but like, the video suggests a traumatic experience causes you to go in that direction, and like being with another man gives you that sense of power?” What is interesting here is that there was no “traumatic event in the film”; this young person is reading knowledge derived from stereotypes within popular culture onto the film’s narrative. The central interest point for the young audience is that of origin point—the reason for someone being gay, the explanation for what they perceive as anomalous. Yet one cannot be sure that the film might resonate more or differently if there were time to work through the first layer of questions or when queer curricula is next encountered. Ellsworth (1997) notes, “Teaching is not normalizable. It happens in disjointed and yet enfolded conceptual and social spaces . . . Where, when and how teaching happens is undecidable. This is what saves it from become a skill or a technology” (p. 193). Conversely, one self-identified lesbian student had this to say about film in general but about Rock Pockets in particular: I think, um, I think it’s great that there’s so many honest and talented filmmakers making these films. It’s not like it’s not just like a film that just tells you why you know.  135  LM:  Right like a news show or something  T:  I suppose, yeah. Or especially educational film.  LM:  What do you think is special about these films? Is it the age of the filmmaker or is it the topics that they address?  T:  I think both, yes. Both that you can relate to the filmmakers, that you know that’s what I could be in a few years and also the topics that they cover aren’t just you know homophobia being, the experience of being gay or being in the closet or anything like that. They also deal with issues that everyone can relate to. . . . Even, you know, enjoying the music . . . (Trudy, Chinese Canadian student, 17, lesbian)  Trudy’s ability to think more deeply about film and sexuality may be because she is an emerging filmmaker, because she identified as a lesbian and had opportunities to discuss homophobia and heterosexism in other forums, or both factors together. In discussions of the films, and the viewing itself, youth may be searching for explanation of what they perceive to be anomalous, an otherness they witness everyday in the punitive and performative arena of gender and sexuality that is so much a part of school life. The otherness of the queer body, and the silence that surrounds it, the pedagogical inability of educational systems to deal with heteronormative privilege and homophobic violence, and the move towards increasingly generic bullying frameworks leave youth curious and without language to dissect homophobia or heterosexism. Conclusion Estranging, broadening, darkening forms of the childas-idea are my pursuit, with a keen eye on the ghostly  136  gay child . . . as a figure hovering in the twentieth century—and a figure braiding with other forms of children who are broadly strange. —Kathryn Stockton (2009, p. 4) There is no claim to make that OIS can, in the very short time they are allotted in schools, solve the problems of homophobia or heterosexism or that the pedagogies of OIS ultimately fill the gap in existing antihomophobia curricula. Rather, this chapter has laid out the importance of OIS’s negotiation of the boundaries manifest on antihomophobia’s curricular landscape. These negotiations confirm the need for a more nuanced understanding of the complex spaces where homophobia and heterosexism intersect alongside the recursive neoliberal demands for normalcy. It is within these more nuanced and complex renderings of homophobia and heterosexism that the possibility opens for pedagogies and curricula that are constitutive of a knowledge production whose goal is not only to “defetishize and queer those dominant knowledges—reading the complex and open totality of relations out of which they emerge—but also to offer an alternative orientation, to make another sense, so that we have allies in the fight” (Crosby et al., 2011, p. 146). This would be a knowledge capable of understanding the stakes of educational and political engagement—a knowledge production that moves away from antihomophobia and its essentialized discussions of sexual subject positions and into an acceptance of sexual and gender diversity for what it is without foreclosing its emergent and mobilizing potential. The point here is not to show that OIS curriculum is ultimately queered or not queered, antihomophobic or anti-heterosexist; rather, it is to point out the indeterminacy of the pedagogical relationship. OIS’s curricular offerings both echo and unsettle normative  137  rhetorics of antihomophobia education by entering into the gaps and silences it propagates. They do so without the promise of educative resolution. And perhaps this is the lesson of the attempt to bridge the gap—the possibility of thinking through modes of educative address even as it “is not something that teachers can harness, control, predict or technologize” (Crosby et al., 2011, p. 146). In moving toward the final chapter, I ponder the way in which the appropriation of queer ideology and its vernacular within dominant public discourse has to a great extent derailed the political project of queer theory, as evidenced above in OIS facilitator Philip’s account of the queer community’s complacency. Grounded in a belief that “queers do a kind of practical social reflection just in finding ways of being queer” (Warner 1993, p. xiii), has queer theory unwittingly created its own normative boundaries, its theoretical assertions stripped of political meaning as the very notion of queerness is neutralized through its reabsorption into the neoliberal imaginary? Rather than maintaining a politics focused on exposing the dominant discourses of heteronormativity, queer theory has continued to generate a politics focused on defining what it is to do and be queer. That is, as queer researchers, theorists, and educators, we continue to think in terms of bodies and identities that are necessarily intelligible and necessarily recognizable within specific identificatory frames, frames that negate but still operate within the logic of heteronormatively decipherable sexual and gender categories and a liberal identity politics of belonging. As I approach the final data chapter, motivated in part by Stockton’s (2009) repurposing of gay beyond its historically adult constructions and her specific interpretation of the gay child, I begin to ask what it means that children must fit themselves into undeniably an adult construction of the gayness—the homosexual child, the gay child, the  138  queer child, the young. What does it mean for educators to have the spectre of the gay child haunting attempts to unravel and combat antihomophobia when the very pedagogies we employ rely upon the impossible constructions of the gay child, founded and cemented as the spectral death of the heterosexual child it would have otherwise been? Does Stockton’s construction of the queer child help to account for postqueer constructions like those of Rich Savin-Williams (2005), who claims the queer child has arrived, that there is no further need to come out because they receive indifferent responses rather than violence refusals? Is it postqueer when children begin to fit more closely the adult constructions of gayness based on adults’ own experiences of homophobia, denial, desire, acceptance, and refusal? Has the spectre of the gay child of which Stockton speaks become so hauntingly present because of our own adult desire for the child to fit into our own vertical developmental narratives that there is no longer room for the queerness that is a childhood, the growing sideways that embraces the messy and jagged boundaries of adolescent development? Can we address homophobic violence in our schools without advancing the current sexual and identificatory claim staking that has dampened queers’ political potential?  139  Chapter Five Youth, Film, and Futurity: Queer Persistence and Utopia  I have to say I’m confused about hope, about how it feels and what it can do. —Lisa Duggan (2002, p. 275)  The enigma of the now is such because our theories, discourses, and knowledges are incompatible with its forms and means of expression. —Teresa de Lauretis (2004, p. 367)  As previously noted, the overall research project utilizes film as a scaffolding to explore youths’ understandings of (anti)homophobia both in and out of school, and the ways in which notions of queerness, (anti)heteronormativity, and the rhetoric of popular antihomophobia pedagogies are echoed within media production, and the discourses utilized by Out in Schools (OIS). Over the course of this research and analysis, the significance of the current political climate and its bearing on the data have become increasingly pronounced. Specifically, my interpretation of the voices of young queer filmmakers, their audience members, and OIS facilitators benefits from considering them within the contemporary neoliberal contexts in which they are situated, along with incumbent liberal pluralist notions of inclusivity and tolerance that inform their narratives (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1997). Moreover, the backdrop to this political frame is a pervasively 140  heteronormative and an increasingly homonormative (Duggan, 2002) social order. Within descriptions and analyses of the No Hate youth film production process, this chapter focuses on: (1) situating queer youth and their narratives historically and discursively, (2) the tension between existing antihomophobic discourses and a desire for antiheteronormative initiatives, (3) youth film production as a rich site of pedagogical feedback about antihomophobia pedagogy, and (4) the future of queerness within educational discourse. Lastly, and relatedly, this chapter advances a notion of futurity, a theoretical model that several scholars (Bruhm & Hurley, 2004b; Bryson & MacIntosh, 2010; Mayo, 2006; Muñoz, 2009; Tuhkanen, 2009) have turned to in a climate of political desolation and celebratory postqueer narratives (Savin-Williams, 2005). Futurity, defined and discussed herein, is used to frame a queer interpretation of youth voice and its contribution to a queer education landscape. Like Duggan, whose skeptical ponderings open this chapter, I am simultaneously confused about and inspired by the potential for hope embedded in any claim to an emancipatory politics. And so, too, my optimism regarding the future of a queered politics and its pedagogical manifestations is tempered by the current depoliticized22 state of antihomophobia education, while still anticipative about the prospect of change. Heeding Berlant’s (2004) cautionary note that “optimism is a way of describing a certain futurism that implies continuity with the present, but, as it does not always feel good, attachment seems a better way to describe the pleasures of repetition without presuming their affective reverb” (p. 449), I recognize my own preemptive desire for both political composure and narrative attunement. Acknowledging this desire, I move forward with a more critical working 22  Here I refer to a current focus on individual identity politics rather than any systemic issue  of discrimination and violence. 141  definition of optimism, recognizing that optimism does not necessarily shun the possibility of failure, nor is it bound to a notion of progressive futures. And it is this critical optimism that underscores my analysis in this final data section. With that in mind, I propose this work as a recuperative endeavor, a project of pedagogical and political re-visioning, of identifying hope in the futurity of a politics not yet realized (Muñoz, 2009). Following a Rancièrian (2009) model, I am suggesting an emancipatory politics that is discomforting, distancing, and recursive. That is, discomforting and distancing of social and political norms while recursive in its use of existing affective attachments and identity constructions. Of emancipation, Rancière (2009) states: “emancipation begins when we challenge the opposition between viewing and acting; when we understand that the self-evident facts that structure the relations between saying, seeing and doing themselves belong to the structure of domination and subjection” (p. 13). We are all spectators and actors in the political and ideological play of neoliberalism, and therefore a re-envisioning of queer politics in this space requires first the recognition of political complicity. In a political leap of faith, then, queerness re-envisioned “proposes to conceive . . . a new scene of equality where heterogeneous performances are translated into one another” and of “being at once a performer deploying her skills and a spectator observing what these skills might produce in a new context among other spectators” (Rancière, 2009, p. 22). I am suggesting that the desire for viable alternatives to stereotyped liberal discourses of identity, and the will to resist the hegemony of homogenization exist most notably in the politics and pedagogies of the everyday and that within these quotidian moments exists great political possibility and recuperative potential. These desires are palpable in the articulations of queer  142  youth, queer youth film and media productions, and can be evidenced in youth’s expressed desire for alternative approaches to antihomophobia education. The very concept of queer youth, or the queerness of youth is, however, neither straightforward nor unproblematic in its construction. Queer Trajectories and Narrative Lines Kathryn Bond Stockton (2009) makes a compelling argument that every child can be seen as queer, in that they are either queer identified or not yet straight. Stockton views childhood as a place of otherness, of queerness, where the markers and labels of adulthood do not, and ought not, apply but are nonetheless constitutively advanced and liberally assigned to the figure of the child of the present as the adult or queer nonchild they will become. The presumptive labeling of children as primarily heterosexual or its opposite— gay, effeminate, lesbian, and so forth—is driven by the desire to both construct and produce them normatively. This desire to label the child compels a not-yet-existent identity forward; it is asynchronous—throwing childhood, both as metaphor and as lived reality, into an identificatory space it cannot possibly inhabit. Thus, the queer child can, in Stockton’s terms, only “grow sideways” (Stockton, 2009). In other words, the queer child can only emerge into their queerness by way of a temporal slide out of its heterosexual narrative trajectory. Similarly, Bruhm and Hurley (2004b) argue that the “very effort to flatten the narrative of the child into a story of innocence has some queer effects,” as adults focused on projecting the child into the future “worry more about how the child turns out than about how the child exists as child” (p. xiv). Conceptually speaking, then, self-identified queer youth exemplify the process of growing sideways because “for the child who already feels queer (different, odd, out of sync, and attracted to same-sex peers)” the effect is “an asynchronous  143  self-relation” (Stockton, 2009, p. 303). As will be explicated below in my data analysis, growing sideways offers a productively complex theoretical framing of “the child,” in particular “the queer child,” and provides a theoretical vehicle for enriching my analysis of queer youth media production. The self-identifying queer child may or may not, in the moment of pronouncing queerness, necessarily understand that they are growing sideways, as Stockton (2009) further explicates: Certain linguistic markers for its queerness arrive only after it exits its childhood, after it is shown not to be straight. That is to say, in one’s teens or twenties, whenever one’s straight destination has died, the designation “homosexual child,” or even “gay kid,” may finally, retrospectively, be applied. (p. 303) These identificatory articulations and discursive signifiers of sexual orientation and appropriate gender enactment are the lynchpin of liberal identity politics, a system to which we are all mercilessly bound and undeniably complicit in maintaining. I am suggesting that the liberal gay, lesbian, and bisexual identity politics often fixes identity as a construction now somewhat historically locatable and interpreted through a liberalized notion of individual behaviour, which is regulated and measured both within and outside respective communities. These fixed identities hold the promise of fitting into an identity-based system—that is, an assimilative framework that values individuality above difference as fundamental. The incomplete juxtaposition of assimilation versus difference is a key component of understanding liberalism’s (and related neoliberalism’s) grasp on social movements.  144  Lady Gaga, an 18-year-old, gay-identified, mixed-race (who chooses not to identify in specific racialized terms) youth filmmaker notes “so I’m really really gay.” When asked what he meant, Lady Gaga replied: Always out. Like, in grade 7 I kind of went through a metrosexuality, then I was bisexual, then I was homosexual, and I’m just like, I’m gay now. But that was just me realizing that the environment that I was raised in was not the environment that I want and I was like this—I was taught that gay is bad, but now I can make my own opinions. Some people never make their own opinions; sometimes people believe what they are taught and that’s that. You know—they’re stubborn; they would not let anything else come in but I realized that, you know, being gay is okay, and then I’ve been gay ever since. It’s like one day I was born; I’ve been alive ever since . . . Lady Gaga is a confident young man whose presentation challenges standard gender norms, both in his comportment and his chosen style. When pushed to explicate on his identity as being “oh so gay,” he is precise in stating, “oh so—I’m homosexual like.” Again asking if there was “something specific” he meant, Lady Gaga responded: Oh, like, I’m really effeminate. Like, people who are masculine and gay and they have they played football I guess it’s like easier to hide you know cause you fit in that straight stereotype but I’ve always been like that effeminate man and I wore really effeminate things and I’ve always acted really effeminate, and I never hid it. Like, this is just how I live this is just every single day I wake up, I’m the same person so whatever. . . . Gaga is speaking not only of the impossibility of passing within the parameters of a heterosexualized ideal of “maleness” but also of a proclamation of difference that he  145  embraces wholeheartedly as suitable for him. Gaga suggests here that he had a choice in accepting his placement outside gender norms, but at the same moment he notes that he would have had to reject a part of himself to “hide,” and therefore he was unable to pass. Again, drawing on Stockton, we can surmise that, in a society so firmly grounded in identificatory politics, the child emerging into adolescence gravitates toward and feels the demand for stable identificatory labels, labels overburdened and overdetermined by an adult world of normativity, expectation and attachment. Of normativity and innocence, Stockton (2009) further states: From the standpoint of adults, innocence is alien, since it is “lost” to the very adult that assign it to children. . . . What do children queered by innocence share? They all share estrangement from what they approach: the adulthood against which they must be defined. (pp. 30–31) Hence, the idea of childhood, as a privileged construction, is intrinsically linked to the normative markers of white heterosexual, middle-class, liberal idealism as adulthood attained, and anything that threatens the “truth” of normative childhood is marked by strangeness, and queered by this strangeness. In Lady Gaga’s case, he grew sideways into the gay, bi, homosexual labels, the stereotyped identity markers of otherness that fill society’s identificatory imaginary, that make the articulations of queer identity possible and yet simultaneously limit and define the promise of that very possibility. The labels he claimed as a youth to distance him from a heterosexual normativism that defined the parameters of his gender ambiguity and performative failure as “boy” were thus made queer by his youthful occupation of them.  146  In the next section, I introduce the No Hate film boot camp as one example of the manifold and, at times, paradoxical pedagogical spaces that OIS occupies—spaces that are steeped in both the assimilative discourses of antihomophobia and the disruptive discourses shaped to confront normativity. The boot camp provides an avenue for my thinking through and analysing of the importance of youth-directed and youth-made film, as well as a space to explore how youth perceive the actual processes of making film. Further, the boot camp and my analyses provide concrete examples within the research of the concept of growing sideways—the queerness that youth both wittingly and unwittingly project, a fiction in response to a culture and society that seeks to define them and their identities, identities that they themselves have not yet begun to fully access. Taking one step further Stockton’s notion of growing sideways, I suggest that an acknowledgement of pedagogical relations that leave space for growth without a definitive end point offers the possibility of indeterminate hope and optimism23 that helps move current and future discourse toward a critique of normativity rather than individualized violence and harassment. Pragmatically speaking, youth generally participate because they are interested in film in some way and they, or their parents, see this as an opportunity for free training. Some youth had a previous relationship with OIS and learned about the boot camp through announcements at other OIS events, taking it as an opportunity to extend their participation with peers and find out more about film. The queerly identified youth at the boot camp also stated that they chose to attend because they could be “out” and that they would have an opportunity to address issues that interested them.  23  Discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. 147  No Hate Film Boot Camp24 No Hate is a free annual film camp offered by OIS. The camp is offered once a year during spring break or in the summer, depending on funding sources and the availability of those funds. The intensive five-day filmmaking workshop is open to up to 15 LGTBQ youth and their friends ages 14 through 24. Participants historically fall between the ages of 14 and 21, the oldest participant thus far being 22 and the youngest aged 12. Participants learn the basics of digital filmmaking, including hands-on training with project design, storyboarding, lighting and camera technique, script writing, sound and visual editing in a supportive and youth-focused environment. OIS partners with Reel Youth, a British Columbia–based not-forprofit media-empowerment program focused on social justice issues with the goal of supporting young people to create and distribute films about their visions for a better world, for the duration of the film camp. While media and popular culture have always had wellknown appeal for youth in general (Buckingham & Sefton-Green, 2003; Hebdige, 1979; Jacobs, 2005) the program is designed to appeal to a generation for whom DIY media production generates particular allure (Bugess & Green, 2009; Livingstone & Helsper, 2010). As Gesus, a Korean, 21-year-old, bisexual, male No Hate filmmaker, observes: Well, look at our generation. It’s purely—we’re all virtual, you know? Like the Internet, people use Facebook, YouTube—like, you know how, like, video killed the radio star? It’s going to be like the Internet killed the TV star, you know? It’s like people still watch movies and stuff to go to theatres and cause they want to see the  24  Although I attended two No Hate film boot camps, some of the description here is taken  from Out in Schools literature and its website (Out on Screen, n.d.). 148  big screen at times—but like, there’s so many people who can make—we have the technology to make our own films now. Gesus’ assessment that his generation is “all virtual,” while certainly an overstatement, speaks to the perception that youth comprehend visually and are media driven. He believes that they are virtual, and so, in some sense, he is. Gesus, then, already believes that his voice, his film, has a place from which to speak. “My Film Will Change the World . . . or Something” Youth offered multiple reasons for attending No Hate. Many of the participants suggested that the emphasis on learning film techniques was key in their decision to apply. When I asked Kylion (female, 13, Native German, Straight),25 “And what appealed to you about the program?” Kylion responded: “The filmmaking part.” But after a pause she continued, “And, like, trying to change the world bit by bit I guess.” Gesus also suggested that his decision hinged on learning film but also his desire to find a space to continue his coming-out processes. Gesus said: Well, this is, like, a huge step for me right now because I’ve been relatively discreet about it; only a few people know, and I just felt like you know what—like, like just meeting the people here and just the positive environment, the nonjudgment—and it just, like, gave me that extra bit of courage and being brave to like let people know that it’s okay to be comfortable with who you are and your sexual orientation and all that so I’m just really—I’m nervous, but at the same time excited because I could say 25  Again, a reminder that these identifiers were supplied by the youth on the day or days they  were interviewed. They are not meant to solidify any identity, either for the reader or in their own minds. On a different day, those identifications may have changed. 149  that I did that and I did it with a bunch of people that were awesome and great. Gesus and Kylion indicate that filmmaking and media were certainly draws of the program; among the multiple reasons for their attendance, the sociality of the camp was part of what they desired out of the program itself. Lady Gaga is mindful of the multiple roles film can play and is clear in stating that he wants his work to have a purpose: Um, I’ve always used film as a way for me to express myself. I used to go to a school where the film program there was very prestigious and, um, I just wanted to use my skills I learned from school to combat homophobia and raise some issues cause I know these films are going to be, like, playing at high schools and everything, right, so I think my film would really create a good conversation all kids should have once in their lifetime. Like coming out to your parents, like, if you’re gay. I think that’s a very important conversation for kids to have if they’re gay and thinking that you want to come out to parents ’cause sometimes they don’t know what to do, right? Part of the appeal of No Hate and in making films, then, seems to lie in the potential of the films that they youth produce to be seen by multiple publics. All of the films created through No Hate are screened at the annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival and to students during OIS facilitations across the province. The films are also screened online at outinschools.com and on YouTube through both the Reel Youth and OIS YouTube channels. Two No Hate films have screened at international film festivals through connections with Reel Youth, who tour their own film festival internationally. Again, Gesus remarked: I feel like with film you could do so much—there’s so much you can do because it’s basically telling a story or, um, getting a message out. It’s just, it’s like a form of  150  freedom of speech. Um, and it’s going to educate people. It’s going to maybe change someone’s views on certain things, you know? Observing the boot camp, I had the sense that attending No Hate is a way for these young filmmakers to both “get themselves out there” and also see themselves reflected as a part of a community or communities. The notion of communities is of particular importance here because a number of the youth filmmakers identified as Asian, First Nations, or mixed race and discussed the multiple spaces they felt they occupied. All filmmakers were asked about what they thought they “took away from the week” or “what they thought they had learned.” Not surprisingly, many focused heavily on having learned film skills; for example, Kylion states that she learned, like, I’ve learned how to use a tripod yes, I’ve learned how to use those two cameras a bit and, um, I’ve never used a Mac computer to edit a video, and I didn’t know much about the lighting and how important it was . . . and I didn’t know that a faggot was a bunch of sticks. Even though Kylion’s statement about the etymology of faggot might be analysed as flip or secondary, it nonetheless points to a space of critical interrogation of the meanings of words and images that occurred during the filmmaking process. Similarly, and more detailed in her reflection, Lita (15, Salvadorian, straight) begins her interview with a discussion of the skills she learned: I’ve taken away a lot of the skills from well using the cameras and all that. That’s always been something I wanted to try out. When you see the movies and how they made the film I always think that part is so interesting cause you never imagine that once you are watching the film. You never imagine that there’s like a million people  151  surrounding them. She then moves to analysing the importance of other skills that she learned through understanding how the many bodies involved in filmmaking come into play: it requires a lot of team work and listening and dedication and being passionate about whatever you are doing. Um, also taking away the people—like meeting new people—that’s always fun for me. And also being more aware of the, um, the ideas that, the facts that people really care about . . . becoming more aware of issues in the world today. In Lita’s estimation, she takes away the importance of teamwork, and an increased awareness of the issues relevant to the people she has met. Her phrasing of the topics addressed during the filmmaking process as “world issues,” and “taking away the people” might be interpreted as a new sense of the scope of homophobia, since I certainly witnessed no discussion of global-level issues, but her wording would suggest a new breadth of understanding that she did not previously have. Margaret also learned about the process of filmmaking, lamenting that it is “very long, very hard work. There’s lots of billions of steps to it.” In addition, she notes that she “learned something about myself. That has nothing to do with the whole antihomophobia thing . . . I just learned, like, I need to be more open and accept people quicker I guess.” What is interesting here is that Margaret highlights what she calls selflearning and disentangles this learning from the “whole antihomophobia thing.” This could be read as a reliance on the discourses of individualism, one that demands a divorcing of oneself from the larger implications and complicities of homophobia while simultaneously pushing back against the political project of antihomophobia that encourages the compartmentalization of responsibility.  152  As Margaret discussed what she took away from the week, she commented, “Yeah we didn’t really hit too much upon antihomophobia like speeches and talks during this thing because it was all about the filmmaking process. So that part I didn’t learn much about.” Notably, she equates antihomophobia with “speeches and talks” and not with any activities that would suggest student engagement. The emphasis on the individual and on process is understood more clearly when looking at it alongside the goals for the workshop itself. For Mark, the cofounder and facilitation leader of Reel Youth, the purpose of the workshop was less focused on content and more on space and process. He argued that: I think there’s a real need to have a safe space to be creative around creating messages that they think the rest of the world needs to hear. I think being queer generally in mainstream culture is really difficult for teenagers, and they have lots of opinions and lots of things to say but don’t always feel safe saying them so by providing a safe space it I think it’s super important. And, you know, if a great product comes out that that other people can see or that is used to produce change— awesome—but just providing a space for safe expression is confidence building for the kids and just I think self-esteem building ’cause they just feel better about themselves if they’re hearing a similar message from other people like them it makes them feel less alone. In my field notes from March 18, I also wonder about the split between process and content (education) centering on antihomophobia or heterosexism: Today again there is very little weight on message and more emphasis on outcome. Central reference points haven’t changed; gender and sexual norms are the freefloating benchmarks. It seems that without a central reference point the youth have  153  no way to access ways of disrupting norms without first reproducing them. How might we as educators create an informed process to facilitate media production, one that educates but still manages to keep youth engaged? Certainly all teaching is influenced by the educators who direct the learning. I also noted: “It is interesting to watch the influence that can be exerted by a few simple comments from the facilitator.” I found this to especially be the case in a short intensive workshop. However, concern about teacher influence is often directed at what is viewed as lacking in objectivity or neutrality (Kelly & Brandes, 2001). However, as Kelly and Brandes note, objectivity and neutrality are fallacies, and often ones raised by those most interested in shoring up the status quo. In this instance, I am suggesting that the lack of early, direct instruction about antihomophobia and its relation to the boot camp led me to make the observation that the youth “have no idea what they want to do” (field notes, March 16). On this second day of the camp, the youth were confused as to what direction to take. As they worked and brainstormed, they decided on a “1 in 10” theme. After some back and forth between the participants regarding the 1-in-10 statistic and whether or not to use it, Mark asked me directly to explain where the idea of 10% of the population as gay came from. I was hesitant to contribute, as I was both aware of my position as researcher and curious as to where the discussion was going. After a slight hesitation, I explained that the statistic originated within Kinsey’s research; I explained who Alfred Kinsey was, including where he had gathered his research, and explained that his data was both widely accepted and widely questioned. A few of the youth knew the film Kinsey but were fascinated to discover he was a real person. The students did not question the validity of the statistic and did not attempt to question it, nor were they guided at any point to interrogate further the “commonly  154  shared” knowledge in the room. In this case they seemed simply to desire a clear direction to take their films, with a generic statistic to bounce off. Numbers hold authority, not just for youth but also within the larger public imaginary. I discussed the authority that Kinsey’s research holds, particularly in popular culture, and briefly mentioned that there was, and still is, disagreement amongst those who study sexuality regarding the validity of Kinsey’s conclusions. I suggested that one of the reasons that his 1-in-10 statistic has some traction in popular culture is that it makes sexuality measurable. I offered further that his work has been questioned, in part, because of the bodies upon which the research is based. That is, his subjects included those (particularly men) who were incarcerated and considered to be sexually “deviant.” The fact that the participants did not come from a cross-section of society was problematic, according to Kinsey’s critics, and, for some, made the statistics unreliable. Yet, after they were offered a more critical analysis, the young filmmakers seemed to take up the requested information, deciding shortly thereafter to discard the theme of 1 in 10. Whether or not my explanation directly influenced this decision, I cannot say; however, returning to the notion that this youth audience seemed to be somewhat influenced by the words of the adult educators in the room, it is a possibility I must consider. While this was, and is, a “teachable moment” for me as a participant-observer, it made me begin to question and analyse how the issue of film basics and instruction and the desire for independent conceptualization of film content was being addressed. These observations above, drawn largely from my field notes, are significant in relation to the following excerpt from my interview with Mark, where I asked him whether he believed he influenced their creative process:  155  What I try and do is help them take their ideas and work it into something that is will translate onto film. So because they haven’t made films before necessarily, um, they’ll have lots of ideas and but not a lot of skill around how to bring out those ideas into something that will work, so my job is to hear what they have to say and mirror it back to them and ask the right questions that allow them to focus it down into under three minutes—a film piece. Mark’s desire and objective in these moments is to translate and teach the process of filmmaking and leave the content discussion to the youths’ prior knowledge. This is not solely a failing in the workshop but a failure of the potential for differing strategies and pedagogies to occur within a curriculum based in a standard antihomophobia framework. The evidence of this is reflected back in what the youth chose to represent, their inability to articulate their own issues in relation to dominant heterosexual norms, and the disconnect that occurred between what the expressed creative desire the end product. Most of the films produced through No Hate belie the filmmakers’ intentions, revealing a reliance on staid antihomophobia discourses that echo neoliberalism’s message of individualism. Notably, however, some of the youth created films that, while not undoing the project of identity, were able to push the notion of LGBT identity forward, complicating its tropes and binaries while still engaging the tensions intrinsic to standard pedagogical strategies and simplified notions of homophobia. Sense and Sensibilities: Neoliberalism in No Hate Films The youth filmmakers I’ve observed thus far, the film submissions I’ve watched, and some of the films used by OIS employ a neoliberal language of tolerance and assimilation. None of the films seem to question the dominant framework of  156  heterosexuality; rather, they circulate rhetoric from the school context, a rhetoric commonly employed in educational realms. A rhetoric that is about producing the queer body for acceptance, rearticulating a queerness that embraces the notion of “fair play,” a queerness that is about being a good citizen. (field notes, April 9, 2009) Attempts to offer an alternative to standard antihomophobia frameworks, such as those offered by OIS and No Hate, are prescriptively limited in their ability to deliver a queer or antiheteronormative pedagogy, a constraint directly related to the institutional and ideological parameters of existing educational social justice frames and discourses. Indeed, a number of the films examined in this research reproduce neoliberal discourses couched in excessively stereotypical and campy refusals. The result is often a mirroring of homonormativity, whose glare sheds a light on the problematic nature of antihomophobic discourse and other normative boundaries. As established in earlier chapters, neoliberal rhetorics of tolerance and belonging have long fueled antihomophobia discourses, its assimilative goals successfully impeding pedagogical reform. Education’s constant pedagogical orientation toward otherness Kumashiro (2002) calls to mind what Edelman (1994) has identified as a liberationist politic in which “the homophobic insistence upon the social importance of codifying and registering sexual identities” (p. 4) is the educative order of the day. Many youth film producers I spoke with expressed a desire to complicate this codification by engaging inveterate discourses of othering, belonging, and tolerance while simultaneously attempting to upend more common stereotypical offerings of the gay body. However, their attempts to complicate the discourses engaged the very norms and stereotypes they were endeavoring to disrupt.  157  I asked one young filmmaker, Little One (female, age 12, white, questioning), “What would you like to see your film do?” She responded: Uh, I think make it better . . . make it all interesting and then have people see it and be like, think of how you can just have the good things . . . to just have, you do not have to have bad, um, you do not have to have all the bad things about the—you do not always have to make a film that’s like, oh, it’s bad when there’s homophobia. You do not always have to show homophobia in an antihomophobia PSA; you could just show people who are happy. Echoing those queer theorists who desire an alternative to current articulations and theorizations, including neoliberal rhetorics of victimhood (MacIntosh, 2007; Swearer et al., 2010; Thurlow, 2001; Walton, 2004), this young filmmaker struggles to articulate her desire to produce a positive film, a film that is not filled with the stereotypical images of negativity that she associates with antihomophobia. Her desire is to “show people who are happy,” to break away from the at-risk discourses and pathologizing that saturate antihomophobia initiatives and continue to inform social-justice pedagogies. And yet, it is evident that she does not have the language to articulate what this kind of pedagogy might look like. While the lack of language available to youth to articulate their desire for spaces of difference points to an obvious gap in curricular delivery, the persistence of the desire itself is hopeful. Fenton and Downey (2003) argue “counter public spheres become established in periods of instability in the dominant public sphere” (16). As Butler (1993, 2004) also pointed out almost two decades ago, dominant systems are never stable. Thus, youth film production, youths’ articulated visual refusals, and peer-to-peer interventions such as that expressed by the young filmmaker above, make viable a space for  158  counterpublic formations, even if their attempts fall short and available discourses fail them. Such is the case with the end product of the No Hate film l(i)ebe. The filmmakers, four in total, three allied, heterosexually-identified females and one questioning female, began the filmmaking process with an articulated desire to disrupt the heterosexual-is-good, gay-is-bad binary. Notably, despite their stated desire, I would argue that they ended up reproducing a standard assimilation discourse of “don’t hate me because I’m different,” which is so often a part of antihomophobia and antibullying messaging. The film begins with the young female characters, all hand puppets, bantering about makeup, when one of the characters suggests they “should totally share their biggest secrets ever,” which return again to revelations of fake nails, and the absence of eyeliner. Suddenly one of the characters reveals she is gay, followed by another, and then another. The fourth and final character, in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to unsettle the normativism of the heterosexual–gay dichotomy, reveals that although she “is not” (gay) she will “still accept you all,” to which all of the girls shout “whooo,” and the short film segues into a gummy-bear dance in celebration of gay marriage. The young filmmakers are clearly drawing on antihomophobia messaging and pedagogies that they have witnessed, discourses that fail to provide them with the tools necessary to produce a film that echo Little One’s observation “that’s like oh . . . it’s bad when there’s homophobia . . . You don’t always have to show homophobia in antihomophobia PSA; you could just show people who are happy.” Little One and her group seemed to be pleased with the film in its final cut, and they discussed the tone as being “right.” It is unclear whether they would have argued that their goal of portraying happiness was successful, and my interview with Little One occurred before the final cut. While I am not offering her understanding here as one of false  159  consciousness, I would argue that is indicative of a limitation of the discourses offered to her and her group as part of the ongoing history of educative and public discourses regarding homophobia. The reifying and assimilationist discourses available to these and other youths not only fail to advance their understanding of the complexities and connections of normative ideology; they predictably leave the heteronormative elephant in the room fully cloaked in a blanket of silence. Similarly, in Spence Makes Sense, a film made the following year at the 2010 No Hate film camp, the young filmmakers, all of whom identify as gay, try to dislocate the heterosexual–gay binary by disrupting the coming-out narrative. The six-minute short parodies the struggle of Spence, a young man coming to terms with his orientation as heterosexual. The film effectively mocks the stereotypes of the gay male body, with effeminate tropes of pink T-shirts, glitter, and feather boas. Mocked and teased by his friends for his “masculinity,” when the young man finally musters up the courage to come out to his two gay dads, they are shocked but supportive, and the young man gives his symbolic feather boa to his father, stating “it looks better on you anyways.” While somewhat more complex than its 2009 predecessor l(i)ebe, the parodic narrative of Spence Makes Sense and its corresponding visual elements do not quite rupture the binaries and stereotypes because, like the 2009 film, the filmmakers here lack the language, and consequently are unable to produce either the conceptual elements or images to effectively disrupt the dominant undercurrent. Though certainly the film draws attention to the fact that heterosexuals never have to “come out,” it can only do so by reifying the gay bodies and the stereotypes that mark them as such.  160  Queer Contradictions Yet, returning to Stockton, there is a certain queer resonance in the films as the youth, many of whom are growing sideways as queer either because of their burgeoning sexuality as gay, bi, or questioning, or because of their nonconforming gender performances, endeavor to represent their interpretations of themselves and others. The notion of thwarting the prescribed narratives of heteronormative development, of creating a nonlinear space that manifests queerness without the direct or even conscious refusal of the predicated identificatory labels of childhood, is useful in thinking through how young people become self-identified queer youth. Queerness takes as its starting point a kind of narrative excess, a performative failure that cannot be accounted for (Butler, 1993). The category of queer youth creates a descriptive excess within the frame of its already predetermined and performatively charged heteronormative development. In typical binary-laden understandings, youth arrive coherently as heterosexual and gender normative, one identity associatively defining the other. As an alternative to occupying a space of otherness, I propose that Stockton’s suggestion of growing sideways offers instead a queerness to be occupied on one’s own terms or in one’s own temporality within the confines of identity labels. For example, Margaret, a 16-year-old, pansexual, Chinese, female filmmaker, notes that she originally identified myself as bisexual um I know I’m not a lesbian but I know I’m not straight. . . . so I guess I always keep thinking about am I—like before I sleep or something—I’m like, well, I guess if I had to identify I would not know what I identify as. I remember there’s a word for it but I cannot remember  161  what it is. It’s like you just love everything; it’s like you do not have a specific thing- love it’s just if you love that person you love that person. If you do not—you do not. LM:  You could be bi, or queer or pansexual.  M:  Pansexual—that’s the word, pansexual!  Margaret is reluctant to identify with any single sexual categorization, but she is clear in her refusal of heterosexuality. She chooses the label that most closely accommodates her refusal. This suggests that youth are the entrepreneurs of their own lives, unsure in the face of mutability and change, youth turn to “community assurance and reassurance, to locate landmarks and an identity” based on the signals given by punitive publics (Mehl, 2005). This particular conception of entrepreneurship implies both identificatory independence and a willingness to embrace uncertainty. That is, there is a way in which the fluidity of Margaret’s identification as pansexual is nonheterosexual—and potentially heterosexual, if heterosexuality could be queerly constructed. It rejects the definitiveness that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even queer hold. Yet the idea that youths are free agents who can and ought to define and or reinvent themselves at any given moment signals a liberal demand for certainty in the guise of free choice and individualism, a contradiction that permeates any iteration of the individual as intelligible subject. Which is why, in part, youths’ narrative and filmic accounts express both assimilative and non-normative discourses. The result is a series of visual clues, codes that hint at the possibility of queerness. Dyer (1993) describes the signifiers of “gayness,” something he calls gay typification, as a “repertoire of gestures, expressions, stances, clothing, and even environments that bespeak gayness.” He further argues that such a catalogue of signs, “making visible the invisible, is  162  the basis of any representation of gay people involving visual recognition, the requirement of recognizability in turn entailing that of typicality” (p. 19). Similarly, DeVaney (2001) argues that “codes develop only through repetition, and readers of printed or visual texts tacitly understand the meaning of codes often before they can verbalize that meaning” (p. 320). If we hold to Stockton’s supposition, youth can only capture adult representations of queerness, which they cannot occupy or recuperate fully, given that LGBT identities are always already overdetermined by adult characterizations of queer, LGBT, gay, and the like. Unfortunately most pedagogical models within the formal curriculum are not conducive to enriching youths’ interpretive frameworks in ways that enable them to challenge, complexify, or reinvent codes and stereotypes of the status quo heterosexual–gay matrix. Rather, as Broughton (2008) observes, “normative schooling is a kind of nontransferable meta-learning that works to restrict the capacity to learn how to learning new ways” (p. 36). Thus most youth filmmakers I observed, despite their exposure to film and other forms of media, and their desire to upset the static trajectories of antihomophobia, struggled to translate these desires in their films. Perhaps as a direct result of neoliberalism’s pervasive ideations and interpellative malformations, queer youth voice advances the remnants of queer politics and theory despite its static and devitalized discourses. The task, then, is that of providing these youths with discursive and theoretical tools despite the political and curricular misframing of current educational models, while avoiding and potentially subverting the “stymied and myopic politics of self” (Halberstam, 2005) that is so often the byproduct of neoliberal pedagogy and its interventions. The extensive play of (neo)liberal ideology throughout educative discourses and  163  popular media—namely, the rhetorics of individualism, personal responsibility, and tolerance—also fuel celebratory postqueer narratives. The ensuing political attenuation threatens to silence existing recuperative political projects, including the advancement of queer youth voice. The issue of voice is one I problematize at length in Chapter 3. However, to reiterate briefly, I am arguing for a notion of voice that incorporates, critiques and move the discussion of voice to a space of embracing incompleteness, conflict, and partiality (Ellsworth, 1997; Gore, 1992; Orner, 1992). And it is within these ragged spaces and contrary iterations that youth voice can be best theorised. Youth Filmmakers and Queer Spaces Even with analysis above, which ultimately concludes that several of the No Hate films reproduce discourses of normativism—particularly in the dialogue of the film— queerness, or the possibility of queerness still occurs. We see glimpses in the moments where the youth begin to represent their interpretations of queerness itself, be it biographical or a queerness written on the fictional characters of their filmmaking. Taken together, the image, desired message, and filmic dialogue are telling in their failure to produce queerness but equally telling in their successful slippage. The youth filmmakers are attempting to represent, in Stockton’s terms, the impossibility of their queerness and its clear articulation. The youth filmmakers cannot help but employ these neoliberal discourses in their films because it is the language, the identificatory toolset, which they have been offered and steeped within. What makes the films they produce queer is that, despite these limitations, the youth persist in their articulations, persist in their desire to be queer and perform their queerness as refusal.  164  To be clear, I am not making the argument that the youth production is inherently queer; neither is it absent queerness. It is often both queer, and not, simultaneously. Several of the youth filmmakers that I spoke with in the course of my research articulated a desire to produce media representative of something other than the stereotypes of queer youth. For example, many youth expressed a desire to produce films that would educate adults about difference. They aspired to visually upset the parameters of gender and sexual performance in an attempt to articulate the social and cultural spaces beyond the heterosexually familiar. Two of four films produced in two years at OIS’s film boot camp attempt to invert the stories of coming out as queer to stories of coming out as heterosexual, in an effort both to refuse the inflexible linearity of the heteronormative and to create a space for what the youth articulated as queerness, a space that allows them to make sense of their own narrative excess. Thus, this neoliberal moment has also perpetuated a moment of slippage, an inherent queerness in the otherwise heteronormative word order. This is the space of narrative excess that youth outside the normative parameters of a linear heterosexual developmental trajectory, the youth of this research, seem to occupy. Returning again to Stockton (2007) by projecting an impossible childhood space forward, this neoliberal moment has, amid is assimilative and ideological carnage, also perpetuated a point of slippage, an inherent queerness in the otherwise heteronormative world order. Even though language and image often fail the young filmmakers, they are, at times, undeniably engaged in sophisticated and antinormative notions of identity and educative strategies. Here, highlighting and analysing the following, rather lengthy excerpt from Lady Gaga is instructive. When discussing school approaches to social justice, he stated it was more of like it was they’re trying to include everybody like everyone just really  165  focused on racism and sexism but no one really touched on homophobia. Like I would be in school and I would be hearing like pink-shirt day, but pink-shirt day wouldn’t be just to get homophobia it would be against bullying. Like bullying can— like, there’s bullies and bullies are bad, but like how—why are bullies bad, right? Here, Gaga is pointing out the homophobic lapses and silences within a neoliberal social justice that erases the queer body in its universalizing messages. He astutely observes that schools aren’t addressing why bullies are bad, and offers an analysis. Bullies are bad because sometimes they make homophobic remarks and that’s what we should touch on. That kid who wore the pink shirt was beaten up because that was an effeminate thing to do. That was a gay thing to do and they were taught that gay is bad so they are trying to crush that kind of gay thing. That’s why that kid was bullied so that’s what that day should be about. But no—it just has to be about bullies, this giant thing that like we won’t learn anything from but if we have stands like on that day about homophobia or like specific topics you know like that people get bullied for—I’m sure people get bullied for racism; racism still exists. Cogently, Gaga suggests that bullying can be, but is not always, centred on harassment of queer youth but that, when it is, it ought be discussed as such. The pink shirt is not worn because all kids are bullied but because one kid was assumed to be queer on account of wearing a shirt that others read as decidedly not masculine. Teachers and students, according to Gaga, are taught that “gay is bad,” and therefore there is a desire to crush gay things. One could extend his argument to include the possibility that what is crushed in the universalizing rhetoric of “bullying” is an explicit discussion of the very existence of the nonheterosexual body and its rights to protection.  166  A conformist rhetoric, in this case of anti-bullying, in which the assertion of any identity whole or partial “is always connected in complicated ways to the political order within which it emerges and which it in turn reproduces” (Dumm, 1999, p. 120). This ideological misalignment points toward the spaces of narrative excess that queer youth— youth colouring outside the lines of linear adolescent development occupy. Problematizing Queer In accord with the desire to complicate and rethink, I offer an interlude to explore the problematics of queer, even in my desire to use it and suggest that a number of the films are queer. I am suggesting that queer is both useful and corruptible. As Berlant and Warner (1995) prophetically cautioned more than a decade ago, The danger of the label queer theory is that it makes its queer and nonqueer audiences forget these differences and imagine a context (theory) in which queer has a stable referential content and pragmatic force. . . . Part of the point of using the word queer in the first place was the wrenching sense of recontextualization it gave. (p. 345) Here, Berlant is worrying about that which has come to pass: that is, that queer would become an umbrella term that acts as a stable identifier of an identity that can be discussed as denoting “queer is x” rather than “queer is x in this moment, but it does not and cannot signal the stability or reification of x in this moment or any other moment.” Within the context of the queer body, the diminishment of queer’s “wrenching” recontexualizing ability (Berlant & Warner, 1995) is marked by a neoliberal politics that consistently advances the primacy of individualism, constructing queer bodies both as knowable, in the case of the gay citizen, and wounded, as is the case in antihomophobia education. As I have argued elsewhere, (MacIntosh, 2004, 2007), heterosexual privilege and the ongoing heteronormitivization of  167  education and curriculum is an invisible, pervasive, and politically paralyzing form of oppression, one that plays out all too clearly in youth film production. Queer theory, or queer politics, wants to demand a (re)visioning of pedagogical initiatives unhinged from the neoliberal, assimilative project, to call into question misappropriated discourses of “queer,” and the educational and political reforms in which they operate with unfettered liberatory potential. Returning to Fraser (2010), the political “misframing” of social citizenship its “metapolitical misrepresentation” (2010, p. 26) is a matter of reconceptualizing the very frames of injustice, looking carefully at who has been included and excluded within these frames and why. Here, Fraser is drawing a distinction between metapolitical misrepresentation and misframing. Metapolitical misrepresentation is the first order injustice in an undemocratic process—that is, when states and other elite authorities control the frame-setting “denying voice to those who may be harmed in the process, and blocking creation of democratic arenas where the latter’s claims can be vetted and redressed” (p. 26). The result of this is to exclude large numbers of people from participation in the metadiscourses which frame “the authorative division of political space” (p. 26)—for example, when a political community socially cartelizes rules in such a way as to deny some members of society the chance to participate fully. Misframing functions within the boundary setting of the political, where “boundaries are drawn in such a way as to wrongly exclude some people from the chance to participate at all in its authorized contests over justice” (p. 19). Misframing, what Fraser calls a second-order injustice, then, comes into play when those who are rejected from one polity are included as subjects of justice in another. This is, according to Fraser, an  168  analytical tool to reflectively interrogate the mapping of political spaces even when traditional notions of nation-state as frame setter are disrupted or altered. Currently, queer and the politics of queerness fall within both metapolitical misrepresentations and misframings, as the injustices are framed locally within bounded notions of exclusion and globally as those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer are often politically bounded by many different groupings of frame setters that cross traditional nation-state boundaries. Therefore, “the concept of misframing possesses is exactly the sort of reflexivity needed in circumstances of abnormal justice” (Ladson-Billings, 1995, p. 286). It is not surprising, given the complex and politically fraught history of queer and its politics, that one of the challenges of this research has been the positioning of “queerness” within it; that is, of attempting to work through an excavation of the moments of queerness within the research itself and within youth film production, without uncritically reproducing the very depoliticized discourses against which this work pushes. The theorizing of “ephemera” is Muñoz’s (1996) response to the concern that queer acts are under erasure in public spaces, “through negation, through a process of erasure that redoubles and masks the systemic erasure of minoritarian histories” (p. 6). Queer acts, however momentary, must be unearthed, Muñoz argues, as they “stand as evidence of queer lives, powers and possbilities” (p. 6). Because of the dangers and injustices of queer lives, queerness often exists at the level of “innuedo, gossip, fleeting moments . . . while evaporating at the touch of those who would eliminate queer possibilty” (p. 6). These fleeting moments of possiblity, the “ephemera as evidence” is what I have witnessed and seek to unearth as queerness in the youth-produced films exmined herein. Their queerness, as Muñoz articulates, is nothing like a smooth linkage . . . Ephemera, as I am using it here, is linked to  169  alternate modes of textuality and narrativity like memory and performance: it is all of those things that remain after a performance, a kind of evidence of what has transpired but certainly not the thing itself. It does not rest on epistemological foundations but is instead interested in following traces, glimmers, residues, and specks of things. It is important to note that ephemera is a mode of proofing and producing arguments often worked by minoritarian culture and criticism makers. (p. 10) I argue that many of the films produced by youth through OIS, while at times embodying a normative logic of assimilation and a prevalent desire for homonormative acceptance, explore a kind of aesthetic dissidence that emanates an (ir)refutable queerness. They are in fact, imperfect exemplars of “performances with powerful worldmaking capabilities” (p. 11). Possibilities of Re-envisioning Queer The re-envisioning of education proposed here, traced through the work of alternative pedagogies and youth media production, is not a glorification of youth cultural production as a force of resistance (Best & Kellner, 2003). It proposes a new scene of political engagement for both the producers and the consumers of youth media and cautiously conceives of the emancipatory potential of “being at once a performer . . . and a spectator (Rancière, 2009), enlivened by a hope that may in fact fail. Acknowledging as Duggan (Duggan & Muñoz, 2009) does, that “there is fear attached to hope—hope understood as a risky reaching out for something else that will fail, in some if not all ways” (p. 279), we are faced with the fact that to do nothing is to embrace a kind of political complacency—“a form of happiness that will not risk the consequences of its own suppressed hostility and pain” (p. 280). The youth of this research are not complacent, nor are they defiant; they are, as previously stated, quite  170  simply, yet powerfully, persistent. The persistence of queer possibility, specifically that enacted through youth media engagement and film production, and the precariousness of that persistence is worthy of further exploration. As Duggan & Muñoz (2009) articulate, the “practice of hope” defines utopia and “the connection between queerness and utopia is most salient at the precise point” when the desire for a new world exists “despite an emotional/world situation that attempts to render such desiring impossible” (p. 278). The queerness witnessed in youth film production is just such a moment. Theirs is a hope that risks failure precisely because its production is taking place in the face of an antihomophobic rhetoric that necessarily excludes the very possibility of queerness they desire. To conclude, I want to reiterate that this is not a critique of the thousands of voices who have taken a stand on YouTube through It Gets Better and Make it Better, nor is it a claim that through the efforts of young queer filmmakers we have entered some utopian postqueer moment. It is an attempt to open up a dialogue about the problematic constructions and the blanket generalizations that saturate antihomophobia discourses, as I have already articulated above. Echoing Muñoz (2009), I want to position queerness in the space of temporality and potentiality, regarding it “as a stage in a way that rescues that term from delusional parents and others who attempt to manage and contain the potentiality that is queer youth. These alternative pedagogies conceive of a new scene of engagement for both the producers and consumers of the youth media, utilized through the OIS curriculum, and cautiously conceives of, to borrow from Ranciere, the emancipatory potential of “being at once a performer . . . and a spectator” (p. 22).  171  Celluloid Traces The queer body is problematically framed as the idealized gay-citizen (particularly in the Canadian context), the wounded queer victim amid the ever-diminishing space for articulations of queerness. Despite these conditions youth film producers, the youth who view the films, and the pedagogy of OIS utilize and internalize discourses that queer theory has made available through its manifestations in social, cultural, and political realms. OIS film selections indicate an awareness of heteronormativity that resonates with the critical voices of queer theory; yet, in their attempts to choose films that attempt to subvert and challenge dominant norms, the films, like queerness, simultaneously echo the lessons of assimilative antihomophobia pedagogies and curriculums. One such film is Peking Turkey, one of the more popular films in OIS’s curricular roster. The film is, in Ross’ own words, All about a Chinese Canadian family and the son who brings home his gay fiancé and announces that they are getting married. The film humouristically [sic] plays up stereotypes and huge cultural generalizations, on the borders of racist really, but on purpose so that then we can have a discussion about why they have done that. This is a fairly accurate description of the film from Vancouver filmmaker Michael Mew. Mew’s Peking Turkey is the story of Chris, a Chinese Canadian man who brings his French Canadian fiancé home for Christmas dinner, where they plan to make their wedding announcement. The film opens with a scene from two years earlier in which Chris is shown talking to his parents: Chris: You know that thing you say about dating white girls? Well you don’t have to worry about that anymore . . . I’m dating a white guy Mr. Wong: Is it because we didn’t buy you that Mercedes?!  172  Mrs. Wong: It’s your fault, so cheap. Quickly, give him some money . . . get me my purse . . . The credits begin to roll, and the stereotypes continue throughout the film’s 13-minute duration. Over dinner the family members reference a humourous and intentionally provocative range of racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes. The Chinese Canadian mother and brother employ clichéd African American slang, while the Chinese Canadian father showcases an equally clichéd sense of tradition and stoicism in the face of his family’s parody-filled exchange, with displays ranging from his inability to pronounce the name of his son’s boyfriend, the French Canadian Pierre, whom he calls “Pear,” to his grilling of Pierre over his financial ability and income potential. While, at times, the film borders on parodic vulgarity, because the characters are in various ways speaking from marginal positions, the parody and its critical affirmation work to complicate this gay love story of homonormative redemption and familial acceptance. In watching the response to Peking Turkey I think it resonates with the audience more so than some of the other films, despite the discomfort of its queer content. There is consistent laughter at the brother’s racist preference for a “hoochie-mama with big black bootie” and equally as consistent groans when Pierre and Chris kiss. I have yet to decipher the multiple meanings of youth laughter as response, but among other things seems to signal an acceptable level of discomfort, unlike the silence of more serious films that show or discuss same-sex affection. (field notes, January 2010) During the seven post-screening question-and-answer periods for Peking Turkey that I attended, the audience typically responded quite enthusiastically to Ross’ questions, which was not always the case with other OIS films. The types of comments often signaled feelings  173  of awkwardness and discomfort. For example, at one screening a young man proclaimed, “the marriage part sucked,” which was immediately countered by another student’s observation that she thought “they really liked each other and its okay that they get married.” These comments led to productive guided discussions about the history of gay marriage in Canada and, at two facilitations, discussion of why it is that the audience felt uncomfortable when the two men kissed. At other times, the facilitators guided the conversation to the racialized stereotypes in the film and the parallels between various forms of discrimination— including homophobia. While many of these conversations would have provided an excellent opportunity to discuss the underlying issue of dominant norms such as whiteness and heteronormativity, there is insufficient context in most classroom situations to do so. Instead, the conversations remain grounded in a dialogue about “discrimination” and “prejudice,” terms the youth are familiar with, terms that leave normativity circulating unchecked, with whiteness and heteronormativity in particular concealed behind an institutionally sanctioned wall of silence. Cruel Optimism In many ways, youth’s relationship to and desire for queerness can be expressed as a kind of cruel optimism. Cruel optimism, Berlant (2007) tells us, “names a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic” (p. 33). As a temporal movement, cruel optimism (as discussed below) ruptures our sense of continuity and belonging. It is not a loss of experienced to the attachment of what was but “the condition of maintaining an attachment to a problematic object in advance of its loss” (p. 21). Queerness, as it is currently constructed within frames of neoliberal assimilation, is the premature optimism of  174  the postqueer and a nostalgic longing for an idealized kind of retroqueer work to fuel our vision of (and attachment to) an idealized political subject—a champion of rights, the phantasmic queer with an unlimited and decontextualized temporal mobility, a subject whose identificatory excess traverses the assimilative quicksand of neoliberal logic. Within an educational context, this cruel optimism is manifest in our familiar attachment to discourses of possibility, to antihomophobic initiatives, and to gay-straight alliances, all of which feed an alternative vision of queerness but inevitably return to and reify discourses of otherness. Applied to the context of queerness, cruel optimism reveals the unsettling and inevitable “almost” of the political promise, bringing into sharp relief the traumatic event of our political world-makings as queer subjects. Cruel optimism reveals a set of potential breaks or ruptures in the anticipatory logic of the future, a future that allows anyone an “optimistic” glance at alternative narrative possibilities, to envision a different set of attachments, a cruel fantasy that inevitably returns us to the site of narrative compromise. For the queer Canadian subject, this is the site of political stasis created by our attachment to the normative present and an equally normative futurity. It is queer’s own nostalgic longing for a liberatory potential that by its very desire creates an articulation of queer that is antithetical to queerness itself. The cruel optimism of youth film production is its inevitable return to, and reliance upon (both explicitly and implicitly), the language of antihomophobia education stemming from a homophobic social order, while it is at the same time being tethered to an impossible and somewhat idealized vision of queerness. Yet, as Muñoz’s (2009) observations of visual culture suggest, “at this moment it seems that queer visual culture needs to nourish our sense of potentiality . . . if we are to go we need a critical modality of hope” (p. 111). These  175  young filmmakers are attempting to articulate the inarticulable; by this I mean that they are attempting to arrive at a place of intelligibility, and those attempts always fail. And it is in this failure that queerness emerges, in its insistence on something more. Hope, Futurity, and Precarity In the provocatively titled anthology Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children, Bruhm and Hurley (2004) bring together a unique collection of queer scholarship on children, specifically the (un)sexed body of the child and the role of innocence in shaping heteronormative ideology and the politics. The authors set about complicating the story of the child as “the bearer of heteronormativity, appearing to render ideology invisible by cloaking it in simple stories, euphemisms, and platitudes” (p. xiii). The significance of this collection is its parallel with Dean’s notion of the postpolitical, and similarly its resonance with Duggan’s notion of political homonormative politics. Similar to Edelman’s (2004) No Future, taken as a whole this collection is an argument against utopian futurity, a futurity that Bruhm and Hurley (2004a) view as destined to reproduce oppressive tautologies of rescue and resistance. Echoing Berlant’s (2004) notion of infantile citizenship, Edelman’s reproductive futurism describes a politics that privileges heteronormativity by casting hope for the future in the imagined figure of the child. It is an assumed future of innocence and a better tomorrow, a future that, according to Edelman, reproduces a politics that always already excludes the queer body. Edelman’s (2004) theory is deeply embedded in a Lacanian psychoanalytic, asserting that politics dictates the terms of the symbolic—and thus the terms of our subjectivity. Accordingly, the death drive in the logic of the symbolic is analogous to the queer body within the social order, “an inarticulable surplus that dismantles the subject from within . . . the negativity opposed to every form of social viability” (p. 9). In projecting  176  an endless sequence of futurity, a futurity that defines and reconfigures itself in the form of a heterosexual imaginary, contemporary politics denies the queer body’s excess. Edelman is calling for unintelligibility wherein queerness, divested from a knowable futurity, can position itself against the oppressive overdetermined newness of the heteronormative social order. In so doing, he claims that “the queerness of which I speak would deliberately sever us from ourselves, from the assurance, that is, of knowing ourselves and hence of knowing our ‘good’” (p. 5). For Edelman (2004), it is about refusing to acknowledge a future, a politics, and, by implication, a queerness that does not include or acknowledge the queer body. Duggan & Muñoz (2009) share many of Edelman’s concerns about the future. Together they posit hope and hopelessness as two sides of a shared equation, dialectically entwined. Hope, Duggan asserts, “is the primary way we bring ourselves to take the risk of breaking out of the constraints of present conditions” (p. 281). Our relationship to hope, they argue, ought to be conditioned on the knowledge that failure is a political inevitability. It is through our willingness to embrace failure (i.e., hopelessness) that propels and maintains our forward political thrust because we are focused on a process of engagement and not the end game. . . . new game. Each of the theorists referenced above share a frustration with the current state of queer politics, and the impact of this particular political epoch on queer’s continued relevancy. It is no coincidence, then, that these scholars seek alternative frameworks in which to re-envision a queer future. To this end, Jose Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia (2009) expounds on a particularly useful articulation of alternative queer practice. He purposes a  177  political hopefulness and a set of queer social relations that together inform a theory of what Muñoz calls utopian futurity. Futurity, as framed by Muñoz, is part history, part aesthetic event; it is unapologetically nostalgic and irrefutably present. His futurity is situated in a concrete utopian landscape beyond the normative political and cultural horizon. Discerning between two types of utopia, concrete and abstract, Muñoz advances the former, citing its relation “to historically situated struggles” and it’s positioning within the “realm of educated hope” (p. 3). Utopia and hopefulness are fully attuned to the temporal and spatial relations of queer’s past, present, and future. This hopefulness is, in part, based on an understanding that queerness is neither fully singular nor wholly relational but is “coterminously plural” (p. 10). For the purposes of this project, and with an eye to the futurity of antihomophobia education, I will take up the alternatives set forth in Muñoz’s work. Bringing these notions to bear on neoliberalism’s heteronormative attachment to the queer body is the first step in rearticulating queer politics. Affording a space to articulate queerness differently, absent its neoliberal tethers, requires an explicit questioning of the assumptions made about the queer body, and a critical reading of queer political history in the present. This critical questioning and differently articulated queerness points a way forward, offering a space for curriculum, pedagogies, and the bodies upon which they are practiced to be read both historically and contemporaneously. According to Muñoz, there is an “unknowability” about queerness that he wants to preserve. Extending from this, if queer is unknowable; it is unassimilable— giving rise to new political potential. In educational terms a revitalized queer politics opens up a space for emancipatory pedagogies and a platform for queer youth to express the “now” of their queerness, a “now” filled with the potential hope and failure of its own futurity.  178  Hope As I continue to argue for a pedagogical commitment to investigations of heteronormativity as an avenue for educational intervention, and as I remain dedicated to a critique of antihomophobia efforts that takes up discourses of othering and victimhood as its pedagogical starting point, I am framing this work as a recuperative endeavor, a project of pedagogical and political (re)visioning, of identifying hope in the futurity of a unrealized politics of queerness (Muñoz, 2009). I am suggesting that the desires for a viable alternative to stereotyped discourses of identity, and the will to resist the hegemonic forces of normative assimilation, exist and can be witnessed in the persistence of queer youth to express themselves. These desires are palpable in the articulations of queer youth film productions, and to a lesser degree are present in alternative approaches to antihomophobia education, such as those implemented by the OIS program. By identifying and weaving together the fragments of these desires I believe it is possible to reimagine queer politics. In advancing Muñoz’s (2009) notion of futurity, a theoretical concept that several other scholars (Bruhm & Hurley, 2004b; Bryson & MacIntosh, 2010; Edelman, 2004; Mayo, 2006; Tuhkanen, 2009) have variously turned to in the face the celebratory postqueer narratives (Savin-Williams, 2005) and other affect and temporal spaces of depoliticization. At this point is perhaps useful to turn to Bloch (1989), who argues for a utopian turn that critiques the history of the present—a turn which creates and carries new possibility forward with “the unimpaired reason of a militant optimism” (p. 107). Of the utopian function of hope, Bloch asserts that “the not-yet-conscious itself has to become conscious of it own doings; it must come to know its contents as restraint and revelation. And thus the point is reached where hope, in particular the true effect of expectation in the dream forward,  179  not only as an emotion that merely exists by itself, but is conscious and known as the utopian function” (Bloch, 1989, p. 105). Reason, then, is central to hope, and thus any hope must be an educated hope, informed by politics, history, resistance and struggle. As a point of some significance, hope, Bloch tells us, “is surrounded by dangers and it is the consciousness of danger and at the same time the determined negation of that which continually makes the opposite of hoped-for object possible” (p. 17). It is the temporality of hope, the figure of an uncertain Blochian future projected forward, that sheds light on that which is missing from the queer present, enacting a critique of the here and now that demands an imagined elsewhere and acknowledges the gap of queer’s political absence. It is within the demand for “a something other than x” that the excavation of the present takes place (Bloch, 1989). Being aware of that which is not yet conscious is what grounds the hope of utopian futurity in something other than fantasy; it places hope firmly on the horizon, where a politically viable queerness can also be glimpsed (Muñoz, 2009). The queer youth filmmakers of this research have begun to mark the excavation point within the educative present. Berlant (Najafi, Serlin, & Berlant, 2008) argues that because people are affectively and emotionally incoherent “we can produce new ways of imagining what it means to be attached and to build lives and worlds from what there already is” (p. 8). The affective incoherence of queer youth film production, then, is what allows a space for hopefulness, for futurity, the space to interrupt the unquestioned reification of normalcy and liberalized individualism that thwarts the development and the meaningful advancement of a queer praxis or politics and places an new educative possibilities firmly on the horizon.  180  Chapter 6 Thinking A Way Forward  I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for love relationships is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know where it will end. —Michel Foucault (in Martin, 1988, p. 11)  Since our scientific analysis brings so much bad news, it is all the more important to also use our science to hold on to utopian possibilities. —Michael Burawoy (2011, p. 404)  This project begins and moves to its conclusion through and alongside theory, with an understanding of the fractured nature of truth, truth claims, and the research process itself (Foucault, 1977). With this in mind, this last chapter is not a conclusion that brings with it “best practices” or tidy theoretical end points that lead the way forward. This project is a 181  mode of theoretical play—play with a significant analytical focus on pedagogical knowledge production vis-à-vis a media steeped community organization that enters into educational spaces with the desire to interrupt homophobia. The research outcomes highlight the complicated and complex political nature of their desire and the youth who are its subject. It underscores the significance of difficult and undomesticated knowledges (Ellsworth, 1997) that must be taught to and through educator and youth, and the force of liberalism and neoliberalism at work in definitions of queer and that emerge even within a queer politicallyeducative project. The methodological and analytical strategies of an extended case study and the conclusions drawn demonstrate the prospect of pedagogical and methodological openings where normativity is exposed in equal measure to confrontations of individualized fear and hate. The analysis of the data also suggests that the spaces of pedagogy have as much to learn from its failures as its neat successes, and from the unscripted moments where youth exceed educations discourses of risk and become momentary agents of possibility and hope. Summary This dissertation has remained in a purposeful state of emergence from the opening chapter, where I lay the foundation of the research and discuss the journey to this research and the ways in which it came to be grounded in both theory and community involvement and knowledge production. The first chapter also sets the stage for concerns about who is addressed when the body of an LGBT or queer youth26 is hailed and about the ways in which  26  182  schools currently fail large numbers of these youth. A theoretical grounding that questions the political underpinnings of identity construction, and overdetermined renderings of gender, sex and sexuality is introduced as a way to foreshadow concerns about antihomophobia education. Conceptually, notions of homophobia, pedagogy, queerness, heteronormativity, and neoliberalism are understood and defined as both spaces of resignation and contestation throughout this research. This tension is where I anchor my argument that antihomophobic pedagogies are antithetical to the viability and politics of queer, the potentiality of queerness, and that they are at present invariably and lamentably bound to a neoliberal logic. In the second chapter, I carefully outline Burawoy’s extended case study. I reason that it is an appropriate methodology for the research questions outlined in Chapter 1 because the extended format offers a space to begin with an interrogation of theory itself. Extended case study also acknowledges the importance of theory and allows the researcher to bring that theoretical beginning to the research setting. This format, thus, connects data collection to the theoretical positioning of the research throughout. The analysis is informed by, but never confined to, static theoretical formations. The second chapter also orients the reader to the research processes, including the setting, participants, and methods undertaken by the researcher.  The body that is under discussion, here,, takes into account the discussion of identity politic, politics of difference and identity solidification addressed on pages 17-19. That is to say that the body is never merely the body (Butler, 1993).  183  Chapter 3 introduces the reader to neoliberalism and its relation to antihomophobia discourses that the youth observe in schools and educational spaces. I outline and analyse three mediating reactions and antihomophobia responses: (1) the It Gets Better project, (2) the Make It Better project, and (3) local reactions related to place. The chapter also examines the ways in which youth view homophobia and school climate, contextualized within the neoliberal moment, while current popular response grounds an analysis of how youth perceive schools and youth responses to homophobia and harassment in larger public discourse. The main findings in this chapter are (1) that youth are dissatisfied with current attempts to address homophobia in their schools; (2) that neoliberalism, and its intense individualism, significantly shape the environment of the school and, subsequently, the environment Out in Schools (OIS) must work within; and (3) that youth want and need adults to better understand both the overt and the more insidiously oblique climate of homophobia and heterosexism within which both adults and students must learn. The next chapter, the second data chapter, is attentive to how OIS functions within various schools and community groups. Beginning with a description of a typical day and a standard presentation, I demonstrate the ways in which antihomophobia discourses are present and in which antinormative discourses are silenced within educative spaces. While OIS moves, in some respects, away from pedagogies rooted solely in antihomophobia discourse, it would be unreasonable to suggest that it can solve the problems of homophobia or heterosexism—or that the pedagogies of OIS ultimately fill the gap in existing antihomophobia curricula. Rather, Chapter 4 argues for the importance of OIS’s negotiation of educative spaces, and the significance of its ability to traverse narrow boundaries of antihomophobia’s curricular landscape. I argue for a more nuanced understanding of the  184  complex spaces where homophobia and heterosexism intersect alongside recursive neoliberal demands for normalcy. The last data chapter explores how antihomophobia and heterosexism are understood within informal spaces of youth media production in the OIS film-production boot camp. In this chapter, youth use the filmmaking processes to outline the tension they feel between existing antihomophobic discourses and a desire for anti(hetero)normative initiatives. The second part of the chapter returns to theory and theory building, as suggested by Burawoy, laying out a future for extant queerness and a notion of futurity that reinvigorates a possibility for queerness outside of assimilative cooptation. Revisiting the Research Questions As I move toward a discussion of the overall findings and significance, it seems important to revisit the project’s research questions. As noted in Chapter 1, the research questions for the study changed as the emphases within OIS changed, largely as a result of organizational growth and public demand. As OIS grew, its goals and objectives focused on high school classrooms rather than online spaces for youth. Simultaneously, the group added and developed both the filmmaking boot camp and the PSA contest. The questions that this dissertation addresses are: 1. What informs the antihomophobia discourses taken up by youth? 2. How do the pedagogies offered by OIS support and/or disrupt antihomophobia and antiheteronormative discourses? 3. How do youth filmmakers interpret institutionally based antihomophobia education? 4. What are youth filmmakers’ expectations of antihomophobia pedagogies? In what ways do youth filmmakers understand media and antihomophobia messages through  185  their participation in the filmmaking process? The question of how youth view antihomophobia and how antihomophobia discourses are taken up by youth is explored across the three data chapters, but most specifically within Chapters 3 and 4. Chapters 4 and 5 address the question of how the pedagogies offered by OIS support and/or disrupt antihomophobia and anti-heteronormative discourses. The last two questions listed are most closely illuminated and analysed in Chapter 5. The project of this research was to utilize the questions as a guide for research but not to “answer them” as if there were a set of singular clean and easily stated sets of conclusions. If I were able to accomplish this in a paragraph or two, then, I would argue the dissertation would lose the attempt at complexity that is at its core. The dissertation would become something that I do not wish it to be. To answer research questions marks the questions as ultimately answerable and this is not the project I am attempting. With this in mind I have pointed to the research questions and their import as I discuss my findings. Overarching Findings and Significance Amid the calls to “make it better” and claims that “it gets better,” there remains a central, if painfully persistent question of why it isn’t getting much better, or at the very least better understood. “It” begs the questioning of social justice, diversity education, teaching for tolerance, inclusive curricula, and the numerous other educational frames under which antihomophobia education takes its form. If these numerous manifestations of antihomophobia education and intervention are effective, why are homophobia and homophobic violence thriving in our schools? It is my hope that the findings and implications of this project begin to shed new light of an old shade-loving problem and that the curricular and political impasse that is the  186  educative standard for antihomophobia initiatives begins to shift. It is my desire that educators and theorists alike resist the lure of (neo)liberalism’s seductive political embrace, and that we begin to shift the focus back to the underlying issues at homophobia’s heteronormative center. This research fills a disciplinary gap, but it also exposes as many political issues and pedagogical voids as it closes. The intention of this research was never to offer a solution to the problem of homophobia or to fix antihomophobia education. It was rather to engage in an uncensored critique of antihomophobia initiatives and to explore the possibility of learning from its faults. Taking my cues from the exemplar alternative of OIS, which offers both the insight of queer youth voice and the revealing rhetoric of media and youth media production, this project makes evident the ways in which antihomophobia messaging is failing all youth. Additionally, this research points to the difficulties of queering a politics, and of politicizing queer in a neoliberal climate and, subsequently, the inefficacy of formal, schoolbased and state-sanctioned antihomophobia curricula. This work advances the idea that one can successfully set the stage for a pedagogy that upsets homophobia and heterosexism without suggesting a fully understood endpoint or “best practice.” Constructions of Youth and Risk Hearing and heeding Talburt’s (2004) warning of the pitfalls surrounding LGBT atrisk discourses, I am wary of the victimization that frames so many young, queer lives. I am also sharply aware of the many youth that are subjected to acts of violence and who take their own lives rather than endure the pressures, pains, and humiliation of homophobia that persists in our schools.  187  In many ways this dissertation is about “risk” and youth “at risk”, and the concepts of risk was brought to the fore by way of thinking and analysing through the research question: “What informs the antihomophobia discourses taken up by youth.” It is not about queer youth at risk because of their self-identificatory articulations and iterations, nor is it about “at-riskness” registered by failed gender performance of youth perceived to be gay and otherwise non-normative against the heteronormative social landscape. It is about the risk of adults’ enduring silence, the silence of educators and the unspoken words of curricula that name the problem but ignore its source. It is about the risk taken by young filmmakers who try to express solutions to a problem they see so clearly but have not been given the tools or the language to express in the manner they desire. This study questions the construction of the youth within the category of queer. Following the work of Lesko (2012) and Stockton (2009), this work confirms that youth as a category is a discourse of cultural dependence, contradiction, and complexity. The findings suggests that the youth targeted by antihomophobia pedagogies—that is, queer-youth-asvictim—is undertheorised and overessentialised. The queer youth of this study are like adults, unable to move beyond liberal discourses of identity and assimilation yet, as demonstrated by the young filmmakers, also push back at the spaces of pedagogical disjuncture. This youth is not the Romantic or innocent Rousseauian child in need of protection, or the youth in need of redemption from society’s inherently sinful ways (Lowe, 2012), or the overly pathologized child always negatively characterized as being at risk. Rather, it is a complicated, messy, indeterminate youth, simultaneously successful and challenged, who acts and is constructed as agentic and complicit in its own failures. This youth is never wholly one or another but all and none.  188  The risk investigated by this dissertation moves beyond the queer youth body and the digital frame of the film to the risk of identifying and naming antihomophobia’s failure, the futility of reform based on current educative models, and embraces the risk of a queer stance and a politics that pushes back at the liberal and neoliberal demands to individualize the systemic. This research centres on the risk we as educators continue to take with the future of queer youth if we do nothing. Naming It: Failure in Educative Spaces There is something very specific about where this project and OIS are situated—in Vancouver, a city viewed as modern and progressive, with an equally progressive school board; in Canada, where there is gay marriage and the fallacy that “we” have thus arrived at our postqueer present, where we are happily and successfully dealing with homophobia. A cosmopolitan imaginary that suggests that antihomophobia strategies and bullying responses are everywhere, and that a pervasive awareness of the dire situation that many queer kids are in exists. When talking to those outside of education about the work of OIS there is the general belief that if the organization had been around “when I was a kid, my life would have been so much better.” And others reflect that “kids today are so lucky and so much further ahead than we were.” These attitudes not only reinforce the status quo of “it gets better,” and that talking about otherness and violence in generic ways dispels the power and privilege of (hetero)normativity, but, even as I right this conclusion, normativity and privilege remain nearly silent in classrooms and other educative spaces. In order to think through how the pedagogies offered by OIS support and/or disrupt antihomophobia and antiheteronormative discourses (research question 2) and why OIS works with and through anti-homophobia and heterosexism, it was also important to think about how youth understood homophobia, and  189  the ways that anti-homophobia education is enacted. To indulge a contemporary metaphor, current approaches to antihomophobia education are akin to studying pollution but never asking where it’s coming from: looking at the sky, identifying the pollution and saying “yes, it is bad for you, and we need to stay inside” but never looking at its root cause or discussing the hole in the ozone and what we can do to fix it. That is our approach to homophobia: we develop bigger and bigger antihomophobia programs and larger, more aggressive antibullying programs and zero-tolerance policies but we are not looking at, nor have we begun to engage in, substantive conversations about existing norms that regulate and perpetuate the problem. As educators, we are not productively examining normative gender regimes or the importance we place on normative sexual development. I initially thought that the solution was political, that antihomophobia was not queer enough, that it was not informed well enough by queer theory and queer politics. What I have realized throughout the course of this research is that antihomophobia pedagogies have never been a queer project. It was always a normative project—that is, part and parcel of a discourse that comes out of heteronormativity and individualism and invariably identifies the queer victim as a way of removing systemic responsibility. While there is a space of discussions and analysis of homophobia and its overt presence within schools, only a sustained critical engagement with heteronormativity from multiple perspectives will result in homophobia’s undoing. In my attempt to synthesize the analytical usefulness of queer theory, Muñoz, Berlant, and Stockton, the usefulness of hope and futurity and risking failure begin to become clearer. In utilizing these theories, the primacy of the homonormative in antihomophobic pedagogies is exposed. The need for risk (but not at-riskness) in pedagogical approaches is affirmed, as  190  is the understanding that there is no positive risk in antihomophobia pedagogy; there are only Band-Aid solutions, and only victims yet to be identified. There is not risk in antihomophobic discourses because the subjects of such strategies are already marginalized and already a victimized through discourses of redemption and rescue. Productive risk comes with the unearthing of dominant discourses and normative rhetorics, in disposing of the familiar tropes upon which antihomophobia is founded and in refusing to reinvent other normative discourses to take its place. Rethinking Media as Pedagogy OIS pedagogy is unique because it did not start from an educational-reform perspective. It originated outside of traditional school boundaries and settings. OIS wants to be a part of change within education, desired to be a part of an educational reform project, but its pedagogy is informed by youth; it does not originate in educational or queer theory. Rather, OIS starts with film and its power to move, and then looks to the young filmmakers and the pedagogies of the films themselves. In OIS presentations, the films present ways of understanding and being that are queered, and even when youth lack the language to describe their own experiences, they begin with the exemplars offered by the films. Similarly, when youth filmmakers are unable articulate antinormativity, they look to make queer films that aid them in making connections. The confluence of pedagogy and media offers particular spaces where there is the possibility of moving into antiheteronormative space as opposed to an antihomophobic space. By high school, and likely earlier, youth have already learned to distrust the traditional educational model. OIS media and its relevance to youths’ lives, in addition to the organization’s facilitation, function as particular types of learning because they move beyond  191  the teacher or textbook talking head that is often, but not always, the expert to be imitated but not questioned. OIS’s intervention in schools, then, becomes a form of a shared public pedagogy. It is permitted a place of believability because it is outside the standard institutional boundaries and utilizes a contemporary and relevant format of engagement. The films, the presentations, and the boot camp leave space for pedagogies that both work and embrace potential moment of failure. It is not all failure or all success. The study suggests that the indeterminacy, possibility, risk, and failure are essential to the presentations and to the youth filmmakers’ processes of creation. Perhaps this is the lesson for school-based classrooms: pedagogies that tolerate and embrace failure become spaces of change. Youth Media Production: Looking beyond assimilation The processes of thinking through how youth filmmakers interpret antihomophobia pedagogies in school and in their own filmmaking (research questions 3-4) inform further thinking about several new focal points concerning the tensions between existing antihomophobic discourses, the absence of distinct antiheteronormative initiatives, and film production by youth as a rich site of pedagogical feedback about antihomophobia pedagogy. These, in turn, led to a theorizing of my analysis vis-à-vis queerness, precarity and hope. As with earlier comments on antihomophobia education in schools, the processes of filmmaking also highlight how youth viewed formal, institutional based anti-homophobia messaging and curricula as distinct from other types of learning. For example, as noted previously, Margaret highlights self-learning and disentangles this learning from the “whole antihomophobia thing” that she suggested happened at school. Ironically, Margaret also suggests that the boot camp “didn’t really hit too much upon antihomophobia like speeches and talks during this thing because it was all about the filmmaking process. So that part I  192  didn’t learn much about.” It could be argued that Margaret does not feel that she learned much regarding anti-homophobia because the learning process undertaken was youth and dialogue based and did not mimic school based pedagogies she had previously experienced and, which for her, mark what “real” learning should look like. Margaret’s statement about the No Hate film boot camp is also suggestive of the paradoxical pedagogical spaces that OIS occupies. No Hate, like other larger OIS projects must necessarily negotiate and leverage to their advantage assimilative and normative discourses. In this case anti-homophobia as the signifier of disruptive discourses shaped to confront sexual and gender based normativities. Consequently, I am arguing that alternative pedagogies such as those offered by OIS in schools and within the No Hate Boot Camp face constraints related to the institutional and ideological parameters of existing educational social justice frames and related discourses. Additionally, OIS is constrained and therefore operates in ways that are recognizable to those within educational organizations, which often means working with, and alongside, discourses and ideologies that reify and recirculate (homo)normativity. It is not surprising, then, that young filmmakers and young activists lack the language to confront the failures of antihomophobia pedagogies and exhibit difficulty in moving away from neoliberal rhetorics of tolerance and belonging. Youths’ ability to articulate their expressed desires to disrupt the normative undercurrents of the world around them, is, at times, successful in its challenge and, at other moments, startlingly mimetic of that same normativity. These occurrences of success and mimesis can occur in the same film, conversation, or presentation. It is these contradictory moments youth are able to offer glimpses of queerness; a movement and discomfort in the narrative where they begin to represent their interpretation of queerness itself; a biographical disjuncture in the form of queerness written on the fictional characters  193  of their filmmaking. Even though language and image often fail the young filmmakers, they are, in moments, undeniably engaged in sophisticated and anti-normative notions of identity and educative strategy. Thus it is that I argue that these young filmmakers aspire to upset visually the parameters of gender and sexual performance in an attempt to articulate the social and cultural spaces beyond the heterosexually familiar. The analyses of the boot camp also offer examples of the concept of “growing sideways” (Stockton, 2009) —the queerness that youth both wittingly and unwittingly project, a fiction in response to a culture and society that seeks to define them in advance of their own attempts to define, explore and discover themselves, a desire that as youth they have not yet begun to fully access. I suggest that an acknowledgement of pedagogical relations that leave space for growth without a finite and targeted objective offers the possibility of indeterminate hope and optimism that helps move current and future discourse toward a critique of normativity rather than individualized violence and harassment. Lastly, the explorations of boot camp and filmmaking, in conjunction with discussions and analysis of anti-homophobia education and OIS pedagogies, highlight the ways in which I am arguing that youth have complicated relationships to, and desire for, queerness that can be analysed through Berlant’s (2007) theories of cruel optimism, which ruptures one’s sense of continuity and belonging. The cruel optimism of youth film production is its inevitable return to, and reliance upon (both explicitly and implicitly), the language of antihomophobia education stemming from a homophobic social order, while also fettered to an idealized vision of queerness. As Berlant (2011) counsels these narrative attachments are cruel precisely because “the continuity of its form provides something of the subject’s sense of what it means to keep on living on and to look forward to being in the  194  world” (p. 24). It is within the inarticulable desire for and failed approximations of queerness that queerness itself emerges as precarious hope. These young filmmakers are struggling to articulate the inarticulable, attempting to arrive at a place of intelligibility, and those attempts always fail. It is in this failure that queerness emerges; queerness that insists on something more, and in its insistence on something more embraces failure and hopelessness as the site of identificatory possibility and hopefulness. Implications As noted above, youth were unhappy with how adults within and outside of educational spaces address homophobia and heterosexism. A major implication of this study is the manner in which these concerns might be addressed. In addition, youth expressed the need for adults who better understand and act upon both the overt and insidious climate of homophobia and heterosexism. The youth reported that “my teachers ignore homophobia,” “my teachers don’t want to talk about it,” and “my teachers don’t talk about issues of gender and sexuality.” In this section, I will discuss how education at all levels might be begin to address these concerns. Teacher Training and Professional Development Youth and adults would benefit from opportunities to explore complicated notions of homophobia and heterosexism. Yet youth suggested that, even when their teachers engaged with antihomophobia, their actions and discussions did not challenge normativity or disrupt homophobia’s potential reoccurrence. How do teachers gain the knowledge to address the issues with which they are unfamiliar? Their own teachers modeled how to work with the issues and how to address them, they are interested in the issues and self-educate, or they learn about how to deal with potential issues in teacher education or in in-service  195  professional development. If none of these strategies are being implemented, then it is not altogether surprising that teachers do not know how to work with issues that can be constructed as difficult and controversial. With this in mind, teachers would benefit from opportunities to experience engaging with these issues before attempting to teach them, and they need to be taught how to talk about heteronormativism in a manner that does not suggest solutions but opens up pedagogy, classrooms, and minds to the unexpected. What would it mean for youth to talk about and discern the connection between heterosexism and homophobia in productive ways in elementary and secondary schools? Might they arrive at university better able to have these conversations, which, in turn, supports more complex and critical thinking? Once these have occurred at the postsecondary level, the role of teacher education programmes would be to build upon pre-existing knowledge. The centre for the teacher candidate becomes the method of teaching, not overcoming issues of awareness and discomfort in discussions the basic tenants of sexual and gender diversity, heretofore thought of as private issues decidedly out of place in public classroom spaces. However, until the cycle of erasure and silence in elementary and secondary schools alters, teacher-education and in-service master’s programmes have the responsibility of addressing the issues that effect LGBT youth and the methods of instruction. Currently, in many of the teacher-education programmes that do address any type of harassment of or discrimination against LGBT youth and teachers, intervention remains at the level of the oneoff gay day or gay week, teaching for tolerance, or antihomophobia prejudice reduction left to single courses and individual instructors. Just as the concerns about foods-and-festivals approaches to diversity in K-12, singular days of instruction or days of tolerance and  196  celebration do little to alter the official or hidden curricula because students are not given the opportunity to truly engage and unpack the meaning of discrimination and normativity. Therefore, antiheteronormative and antioppressive teacher education and in-service education need to be present at the table and play an integral role in any initiative addressing homophobia or sexual and gender diversity and awareness. The work must also move from the didactic through to praxis, where teacher candidates see modeling of these pedagogies and curricula during school placements, perhaps by teaming the teacher candidates with master’s students who are also engaging with the issues within their classrooms. Once teachers are more comfortable with both the conceptual ideas of antiheteronormativity and antihomophobia and are buttressed by more experienced teachers modeling the pedagogies and supported by policies at the school board level, then students may begin to see teachers who say “the wrong thing” less often than those who are able to address school climate issues and open up their curricula to include critical explorations of heteronormativity, sexuality, and gender identity from within their subject areas and educational specialties. It is, however, also important to note that I am not suggesting that these actions will vanquish heterosexism and homophobia. Because schools and other educative spaces begin to speak about the elephant in the room does not mean that the elephant will go away. As Ellsworth (1997) asserts, dialogue is not a panacea. Rather, altering curricula and pedagogy and inviting community engagement and criticality merely suggest possibilities for growth and change, moving us out of the static present and into a productive, if precarious, and more hopeful future.  197  Media This study also points to the important spaces that media, particularly youth-produced media, occupy. How might schools and other educational arenas encourage youth-driven knowledge and media production within school curricula? We need to stop thinking of media as being outside of education. Media has become central to every aspect of life, and educators need to look at media as part of education across the curriculum. How do we better mobilize media as part of an educational project? What would it mean if all children and youth were to learn critical thinking around media, or learn how make PSAs in school? I am arguing that critical media as pedagogy must be addressed as an integral part of the curriculum because it is already an integral part the informal spaces of education and youths’ everyday lives. The youth I spoke to demonstrated a criticality, or at least a desire to produce a criticality, in film that they were not seeing other places. When I interviewed the youth filmmakers, they expressed their want to attend the boot camp and make the PSAs because they could work from a space of familiarity and creativity while still being engaged and critical. And while the end results did not often match their intentions, nor did they necessarily transgress normative boundaries, these youth did on some occasions make evident their own lack of critical skills and the impact of this on their ability to bring their ideas to the visual. It is not the case that teachers must know all of the technical skills, because knowledge production of this sort is already happening on YouTube, in short videos, and amongst friends. However, what is important is teaching youth how to watch and create work with a critical eye towards bias, normativity, silence, and erasure. Lastly, the work of OIS points toward the importance of inviting the community and community partners into the classroom. Forming better and stronger partnerships with well-  198  respected educational organizations offers schools and community centres access to specific areas of expertise that may not otherwise be available at school. Perhaps more importantly, community resources offer diverse pedagogical and curricular approaches that invite students to weigh what is taught through multiple and potentially more nuanced critical lenses. I suggest, further, that partnerships formed would benefit from ongoing relationships wherein the community partners are visible in the schools intermittently throughout the year, in order for their work to be seen as integral to curricular goals and objectives, rather than as one-time events not always usefully tied into existing curricula. Limitations Every dissertation has a number of limitations, the necessary narrowing of the dissertation project itself notwithstanding. The most important limitations in this study are the methodological design choices I made to focus on individual interviewing versus focus groups. The second ramification of this necessary narrowing pertains to the participant field—whom I chose to speak with and those with whom I chose not to speak (namely, teachers). While I recognize that the inclusion of the teacher voices would have added another potentially rich layer of analysis, the political difficulties and challenges it posed dissuaded me from doing so. I decided that there would be limited benefit to my entering into educational spaces as an outsider to observe teaching situations where I could not in any direct or obvious way observe the indeterminate nature of antihomophobia curriculum. And, while face-to-face interviewing would have been practical, it would have detracted from the central importance of forefronting youth voice.  199  A Group Focus In retrospect, the most fundamental change I would make methodologically is to engage youth in more focus groups and fewer individual interviews. I would suggest that adults get quite different answers from youth when engaging face to face. Kennedy (2001) suggests that focus groups are a particularly useful method with children and youth “(a) encouraging group involvement through children's higher level of conformity in the social context of peers, (b) facilitating self-disclosure and decreasing self-consciousness with a peer audience instead of an adult, and (c) modeling acceptance of children’s own language and statements.” (p. 185). In the focus group I conducted, the dynamic between the youth was different because they ended up talking to each other rather than to me, which Kennedy (2001) notes yields “rich data produced from the interaction between group members” (p. 185). This resulted in my gaining a feel for the broad range of their reactions to the issues rather than the specificity that the face-to-face situation offers. Additionally, with youth it is sometimes difficult to negotiate the desire for an interview be open ended. The specificity of questions, however open ended, in a one-to-one interview, even when attempting to be less directive, can leave youth feeling exposed or “on the spot.” Yet in the focus groups questions themselves seemed to become less central as the youth played off of each other and discussions evolved more organically. They asked each other questions, at times seeming less restricted and self-conscious with their answers. In individual interviews, despite my best efforts, I felt as if the youth were more easily guided, even though I attempted not to do so. The youth saw me as someone older and queer. During a few of the interviews, it felt as though the youth were trying to tell me what they felt I wanted to hear, while at other times I think they were shy and intimidated for the same reasons—I was older and openly queer.  200  This becomes a lesser issue in focus groups, where my identity as the interviewer is less central. A greater number of focus groups would have offered me yet one more data source to cross-compare and a more productively animated space of data generation. In retrospect, I would still engage in individual interviews, but likely these would occur after focus groups in order to follow up on individual experiences or individual ideas raised in the focus groups. Forefronting Youth The politics of the project were limiting. Because the project was situated in a community organization that was not part of everyday school culture, I did not have the opportunity to go into classrooms and observe teachers’ pedagogical strategies in relation to homophobia and heterosexism. There was a prescient awareness from the school, and from OIS facilitators, that classrooms were not “our” spaces, that we were visitors, and thus I had no entry points into those spaces. In fact, it seemed that it was politically undesirable to question what was (or was not) occurring in classroom spaces, particularly because OIS relied on invitations to return to the school in subsequent terms or years. For similar reasons and as mentioned above, I did not formally interview many teachers (although I did have the occasion to interview two teachers whom I knew outside of my OIS affiliations). Interviewing and observing teachers would have been useful to the study; it would have offered differing viewpoints presenting another layer and entry point of analysis. This, in turn, might have further strengthened my interpretation of the arguments made by the youth participants. However, I remain committed to centering my analysis on youth because youth perspectives, particularly queer-youth points of view, do not receive as much exposure as do the thoughts of teachers and other adults who speak on their behalf. I  201  now understand that I could have undertaken teacher interviews and still had my representations forefront youth constructions. Future Research There are two main areas of research that these results and their limitations direct me towards in terms of future projects. The first is to create and design a study that allows me to work with a community organization that enters into educative spaces in a recursive fashion to carry out a yearlong educative media project with students—that is, focus on the multiple spaces and multiple entry points that a media-driven, social justice–oriented, community-led project might have if given the opportunity to engage with particular classrooms, teachers, and students over the course of a school year. This would invite the participation of local stakeholders at a number of different levels, including youth, youth workers, and teachers and would encourage a cross-group analysis of impact, understanding, and outcome of media work for students in antioppression and diversity work. The second possibility for future research would involve an ethnographic study of queer-identified urban youth activists as they engage in their communities in modes they themselves define as political. A study such as this would allow an exploration of how youth understand and construct queer political spaces within the context of youth-directed political action. In this study, it would be important to invite participation from a diverse populations across the various LGBT communities and distinguish between and amongst the experiences, access points, and categories of activism of those youth who self-identify as queer, gay, lesbian, transgender, or gender-variant. Beyond standard ethnographic participantobservation, this project would include focus-group methods, which were suggested in this study, in order to include the opportunities to analyse political action and activism from the  202  perspectives of youth. This research would invite interesting theoretical developments and analytical applications of the queer politics of hope and futurity. In order to extend the findings and implications of this project, I would attempt to shadow and recruit (albeit not exclusively) those youth engaged in activism and other political action (including media production) within broadly conceived educational settings. I end this dissertation with a quote from Muñoz (2010), whose ideas and discussions in his book Cruising Utopia informed much of my analysis and points a way forward, as I hope this dissertation does, towards a future not yet realized. The intentions, aims and hopes that propel this project is a belief that I write from a time that is no longer here, in the hopes that these words will be potentially instructive to a not yet here. I write with the animating glow of philosophical idealism, and I articulate my thought through descriptions of performances of queer aesthetics practiced in everyday life, literature and art. Cruising Utopia is a book that longs for collectivity during moments of escalating political isolation. It is my hope that Cruising Utopia offers readers resources that will help us belong to a future that is often narrated as impossible but is nonetheless attainable and utterly necessary (para. 4).  203  References Anderson, T. (Writer). (2007). Rock pocket [video]. In T. Anderson (Producer). Canada: selfdistributed. Apple, M. (1995). Education and power (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. Atkinson, E. (2001). Deconstructing boundaries: Out on the inside? 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