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Schools, identity, and homosexuality Segal, Alan F. 1995

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Schools, Identity, and HomosexualitybyAlan SegalB.A., Sir George Williams (Concordia) University, 1970M.A., New York University, 1985A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Faculty of Education)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1995Alan Segal, 1995In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)____________________________Department of £D,/ yzIzvSThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateDE-6 (2/88)IIAbstractThis work is a life-history analysis of thirteen homosexuals aged 17-22, ten of whomare male. The thesis concentrates on six themes: concepts of sexuality and theirportrayal in the curriculum; school episodes or experiences; teachers’ andadministrators’ role(s) in these experiences; concepts of identity; and the institutionalintent of schools to influence students. To this end, the interviews probe howinfluential schools are, how participants interpret the “lesson(s)” of the curriculum onsexual matters, and whether they associate school experience with the development oftheir own sexual identities.All the subjects detect circumstances and attitudes whose effect is to disparagehomosexuality and to discourage serious discussion of it. The subjects are less unifiedin concluding whether schools intend to influence them and their circumstances, andwhether what they remember counts as evidence of influence.Although they criticize schools for making them invisible, most of the subjectstacitly accept the ideology of the education system. They believe that the systemfosters, encourages, enlightens, and enables its students. They believe in the system asan ideal, and they believe in the accuracy of their appraisal of it. They do not considerthat a schooling ideology based on a binary understanding of gender that relentlesslycounterpoises masculinity and femininity, male and female, and hetero/homosexual,requires the very invisibility and silence they detest.As they contend with compulsory heterosexuality, they blur the importance ofidentities in their lives. Thus do they constitute their own exclusion so as not to betrapped by it.‘UTABLE OF CONTENTSChapter 1: Introduction 11.1 Research and Sexual Politics 11.2 The Prosaics of Methodology 31.3 Participant Profiles 101.4 Ritual and Politics in Local Data-Gathering 141.5 Ritual and Identity 20Chapter 2: School Influence 252.1 Introductory Notions 252.2 Student Detection of Influence 322.3 Curriculum and Sexuality 35(a) Official Curriculum and the Experience of Invisibility:The Cases of Ann, Brent, and Barry 37(b) “Fitting in:” Living in a Procedurally (Neutral) School:The Cases of Cohn, Michael, Sean, Andre, and James 46(c) Resistance: The Cases of Trish, Louise, and Zachary 672.4 Analyses 80(a) The “Other” Normative Regime: Resistance in Schools 80(b) Bureaucracy and Mentality in Schooling 82iv(c) On Prohibition, Conscription, Resistance, and Influence 84Chapter 3: Identity 983.1 What is Identity? 1023.2 Power, Subjectivity, and Social Hegemony 1103.3 Hegemony, Power, and Difference: The Cases of Jack, Louise,Trish, and Ann 1133.4 Naming and Identity: The Cases of Barry, Sean, and Michael 1283.5 Varieties of Difference in Schooling and Identity Formation 1403.6 Analyses 144Chapter 4: Conclusion 1514.1 Are Schools Influential? 151Postscript 156References 161VAcknowledaementsA document such as this requires great diligence to complete. Diligence, however,does not account sufficiently for quality of analysis, breadth of research, or precisionof language. In this study, these attributes have been honed through recurringdiscussion with committee members. I have been fortunate to work with three peoplewho have added immeasurably to this research.Dr. John Willinsky and Dr. Deirdre Kelly reassured me as I moved along a seeminglyinterminable academic path. Their goodwill and enduring support when I felt mostfrustrated, and their opportune suggestions on implications, sources, and organization,conspicuously improved this thesis.This acknowledgement would be deficient if I did not direct a well-deservedaccolade to my supervisor, Dr. William Bruneau. His incisive reading eye, his clearexplanation of recommended changes, and his talent for logical analysis, havecontributed significantly to this work. If this thesis has an enduring imprint of qualityand grace, it is so because of Dr. Bruneau’s exhortation to do better, his insistence onintellectual rigour, and his well-timed encouragement.Not least to be mentioned is the strong support of many friends and family members.Numerous people cheered me on, some of whom were only acquaintances, in the fiveyears it took me to complete the degree. I am grateful for their enthusiasm on mybehalf. To my cherished friends who raged with me when I was discouraged andraging, and who celebrated with me as if my success were their own, I extend myheartfelt gratitude and everlasting affection.Without slighting anyone, I will mention two people. Bill Stephenson, who hastolerated me as a one-time roommate and long-time friend, and who thinks he deservesVIan honourary doctorate for his tolerance, always gave me his best and unselfishthinking, advice, and fondness. I tip my hat to what he has taught me about the valueof friendship. Dr. Patricia Rooke at the University of Alberta, a wonderful friend andunstinting supporter, “worked on” me for years before I began my program at theUniversity of British Columbia, and was a significant force in my decision to attemptthe PhD. She and I have enjoyed numerous hours of vibrant discussion, and I have beenenriched, inspired, and invigorated by her words, her compassion, and her provocations.I end this acknowledgement by mentioning my immediate family. Their pride in myeffort and their joy in my success, have only confirmed that we are not related just byblood, but by friendship and companionship in the profoundest sense of these words.No others have given me so much support and rejoiced so heartily on my behalf, as Ipassed through each stage of the PhD program. I salute, and will always prize, myfamily’s unwavering love and their boundless confidence that this work would one daybe finished.Chapter 1IntroductionResearch can be deceptively exhilarating. Carrying it out can have the initial effect ofsuppressing all uncertainties. Each step in acquiring data becomes a favourable augury.Sometimes, however, the nuts and bolts of research unexpectedly reveal the politics at the veryroots of one’s thesis. This has been my experience.1.1 Research and Sexual PoliticsMy sexual identity has always been clear in the College that employs me. It was knownwhen I was hired, and subsequently no one has interfered with my work on the grounds ofanything I have said or done in the community respecting that identity or the politics on whichI have worked. My politics are not dominated by the fact of my being gay, but they are imbuedwith its consequences, with the knowledge of what ‘gay” signifies for me as symbol andpractice.The region of Alberta in which I live was served by the Peace Gay and Lesbian Associationfor eleven years. I was the second leader of the group and volunteered on its contact phone lineduring the first six years of its operation. This present research arose from conversations withmale callers who were having recurring homosexual fantasies.What had seemed to them a neat knot of psychological comfort, sexual symbolism, and ofheterosexuality as normalcy, was now fraying under the pressure of ‘alien’ thoughts. Theyquestioned the very basis of what they could assume to be generally or personally true orknown. They concluded that if they knew themselves so poorly as not previously to have2detected these newly asserting tendencies, they could not confidently say they understoodanything about themselves.They assumed knowing means unity of, and consistency in, thought and understanding.They dismissed the power of dissonant perceptions and feelings to instill values and meaningsin sexuality and identity. What drew me into my present research was the intersection ofidentity, sexuality, values, and formal education.At the outset of my interviewing, I thought school policies and organization might evokefrom lesbian and gay students self-denunciations and disavowal. Schools are not renowned forcandid sexual curricula and class discussions. (Perhaps one day an ethnography of gay/lesbian,or supportive heterosexual, students or teachers will be possible, but neither was possible at thetime of this research.) I thought those participating in this study might (1) succumb todisinforming teachings about homosexuality, and therefore (2) distrust their interpretationsand understandings of their own and other homosexuals’ lives, or (3) challenge the content ofwhat they were taught and the curricular premises of what is worth knowing. The researchindicates a different range of outcomes.This thesis does not address all the issues that had earlier occurred to me. It exploresassociations of school experiences and identity development among a group of homosexualyouth. They discuss what they think identity is, ruminate about their own identitydevelopment, and whether they associate this development with their school experiences.Identity is not generated by school, say the participants, but their understanding of it isfiltered through a schooling that almost always ignores or demeans homosexuality. They donot doubt who they are, but they sometimes doubt the self-knowledge that affirms andsolidifies their sexuality.Readers will note that I have already used “gay,” “lesbian,” and “homosexual”interchangeably. This should not be interpreted as disregard for the politics underlying theuse of terms, and the desirability of language as precise as possible to describe consummately,human experience. However, we should not solidify the use of language so as to prevent us3from using it imaginatively and re-inventively.” The participants themselves use all threeterms synonymously.1.2 The Prosaics of MethodologyNo particular theory or set of theories animates research in Gay and Lesbian Studies. Somewrite from feminist perspectives on gender formation (Rich 1983; Durocher 1990; Hart 1990).Others write from social/psychological adjustment and role theory perspectives (Cass 1979,1984; De Cecco & Shively 1984; Harry 1984; Troiden 1989; Weinberg 1978). Althoughmethodology is not necessarily driven by theory, there is some correspondence between them.If my research is untied to a specific theory, it does fall within current Gay and LesbianStudies methodology.My work is a life-history analysis of thirteen homosexuals aged 17-22, the analysisemphasizing associations between the development of identity and school experiences. I referto this as life history reservedly because the interviews were not strictly biographical. Theresearch was more narrowly conceived than to permit freewheeling description of the subjects’lives. On the other hand, the interviewees offered details about interpersonal relations, familyrelationships, friendships, and personal values. The interviews also show the youths’introspective views of themselves and their experiences. This aspect of the interview evidenceenhances the data by further contextualizing it.All but one of the interviewees were older than 17, and most were already out of school fortwo or more years by the time they were interviewed. All but one were high school graduates.Two of them lived in the Grande Prairie, Alberta, region. Ten of the thirteen are male. Iselected the age group 17-22 because school generations can be measured in segments as briefas two years. School structure and power endure through many generations, but prevalentstudent attitudes and behaviours can change very quickly, sometimes within a year. I wantedpeople who were out of school or imminently so, because their scan would encompass a full4high school experience. Yet these participants’ high school accounts would be sufficientlyrecent to ensure their views would not be wholly obsolete.Contact with most individuals came through an advertisement in Angles, a Vancouvernewspaper operated by and for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.1 The Albertans responded to anadvertisement in the Grande Prairie Daily Herald- Tribune. In both papers, the advertisementannounced research into the high school experiences of homosexual youths, to be conducted bya University of British Columbia graduate student. I also met twice with a youth group at theGay and Lesbian Centre in Vancouver’s west end. Through responses to the newspaper entryand subsequent contacts, people volunteered as participants.Interview QuestionsInterviews were audiotaped and lasted on average two hours. They were conducted inlocations participants felt most comfortable in, which meant either their own homes orVancouver’s Gay and Lesbian Centre. All interviews began with a simple question asking thesubjects to describe the schools they attended. All interviewees answered with descriptions oftheir schools’ social environments. I began the interviews modestly since the larger issues ofthe thesis might be too difficult to raise immediately. I preferred to ease discussion toward themajor questions of the study. Exchanges consisted of structured and unstructured questions.By “structured” I mean a list of previously prepared questions to elicit ideas pertinent tospecific themes. By “unstructured” I mean questions asked during the interviews as a result of1 Angles is a monthly publication put out by a collective that operates as theLavender Publishing Society. The paper is distributed free in the lower mainland, andis also available by subscription. The Angles main office is located in Vancouver.The paper’s mission statement states “Angles publishes articles which describe orassess events of the larger community which are of significance or interest toVancouver bisexuals, lesbians, and gays.” No circulation figures are provided.5thoughts and themes expressed by the participants. Questions formulated prior to interviewingpertained to the following themes:1. Concepts of sexuality2. Episodes or experiences in school pertinent to sexuality or gender3. The role(s) of students, teachers, and administrators in these episodes, or in otherwiseeducational situations having to do with gender and/or sexuality4. The degree of tolerance of the high schools attended5. The ethnic, economic, and racial composition of the high schools6. Sexuality in the curriculum, especially the representation of homosexuality7. Concepts of identity and self-knowledge held by participants8. The purposefulness of schools in shaping (influencing) students, and the role ofteachers in achieving this purposefulness9. Alliances with friends or other students10. The possible association of personal qualities with a gay/lesbian identity11. The life experience of participants compared to that of their peers12. The participants’ awareness of their own sexual identityThis thesis, however, concentrates on six of the 12 themes: concepts of sexuality and theirportrayal in the curriculum, school episodes or experiences, teachers’ and administrators’ role(s)in these experiences, concepts of identity, and the purposefulness of schools to shape orinfluence students. To this end, the interviews probe how influential schools are, howparticipants interpret the “lesson(s)” of the curriculum on sexual matters, and whether theyassociate school experience with the development of their own sexual identities. In seeking tounderstand how young homosexuals comprehend and respond to school discourses, these sixthemes address the institutional functioning of schools, thus undergirding the remaining six.Structured questioning on experience and the formation/realization of sexual identity(discussed later in the chapter on identity), and what social scripts the subjects had learned tofollow, was combined with open queries about more personal interpretations and insight.6In reporting on the data I have tried to retain as much of the regular forms of expressionof the subjects as was reasonably possible. Few of us speak grammatically all the time, and thisis evident in the data. However, there were frequent audible pauses and meanderings betweento-the-point responses, and I have in a few instances repaired these gaps or pauses.To indicate how the data are reported requires more than a statement about how interviewsare quoted. As the researcher I should place myself in proper and accurate context. I am gay,and stipulated this to all participants. My sexual identity was an important incentive to thethirteen people referred to in this study. They assumed a gay person would interview them,and consider their ideas, respectfully. The lesbians in the group wanted more assurances thanthe men, that what they said would be analyzed sensitively and with appropriate politicalregard. They explicitly stated they were uninterested in being mere tokens in a male-dominated study. Along with a personal promise that they would never be tokens, I sent fulltranscripts of the interviews to the most recent addresses I had for all participants, giving themthe opportunity to clarify their comments or to elaborate on themes already mentioned, andthen to return the documents to me with or without changes. All were satisfied with thisarrangement and no changes were suggested by anyone.Whereas all subjects agreed on this matter, it would be a mistake to assume that all lesbiansand gays are alike simply because they have an affinity for members of their own sex. Gaysand lesbians come from varied economic and cultural backgrounds. However compelling andunifying a common sexual orientation may be, it does not mitigate the myriad additionalinfluences of their lives. Research cannot account for every subtle variable, but qualitativeinquiries can explore personal strategies developed in response to the different cultures theparticipants have experienced. Open interrogatives thus reveal more of the social, emotional,and logical intricacies of individual reasoning, and the deft manoeuvres needed to establishpersonal security and space to explore their understandings and desire for intimacy.Open interviews in qualitative research encompass7descriptions of experiences, behaviors, actions, [and] activities .. . . [they] elicit what theperson thinks about their [sic] experiences . . . intentions, goals, and values . . . . [theyask] do you feel anxious, happy, afraid, intimidated, . . . confident. (McMillan &Schumacher 1989: 407)The use of open interviews appealed to me because my data usually connoted processes morethan they did final conclusions. Among those who fight to clarify their identities thisdistinction is valuable. Final conclusions are rare in any event; we live fluid, not fixed, lives.Furthermore, identity may be conceived and experienced, varyingly, as a threshold to new self-understandings, as established (and therefore unquestioned) self-awareness, or as a concept orsocial category that limits rather than liberates us. Knowledge of the distinction betweenprocesses and conclusions helps participants and interviewer to contextualize the interviewresponses.To combine open and structured interviewing is to accept “process” data as partially ratherthan definitively explanatory. As Robert Connell says (although referring to gender) (Connell1987: 116), “[t]he product of the process is not a logical unity but an empirical unification. Ithappens on particular terms in particular circumstances.” Maturity, insight, developing ideasof gender, sexuality, and society, are not gained systematically, sequentially, anduninterruptedly. They are more often acquired through swirls of random and suddenawareness that are subsequently modulated by doubts and competing ideologicalinterpretations.I am not searching in this thesis for causality or the root explanation of sexual identity,desire, and understanding. Were I hoping for this, I would be thwarted by interview dataalmost always characterized by the self-representations of participants (Boxer & Cohler 1989).Root explanations draw us away from the “merely” personal, and self-representation may notbring a researcher to such a level of analysis.The kind of analysis done here meshes well with strictures of open interviewing.Furthermore, the approach is prevalent in gay and lesbian studies, particularly in the collectionof life histories. This form of qualitative research unlocks a long-suppressed heritage of sexual8and gender perceptions.ValidityA study involving thirteen people is not sufficient (or necessary) to propose “laws” of powerrelations in social institutions, and attitudes about gender and sexual behaviour in schools.Although I do not in any case seek to establish such laws, I am not thereby released from aconsideration of validity.This study is an adjunct of other studies of school experiences of homosexuals (Sears 1991a,1988; Rofes 1989; Trenchard & Warren 1985; Uribe & Harbeck 1991). These studies explore theroles and behaviour of counselors, teachers, and other school personnel when faced with issuesrelevant to sexual choice, identity, and discrimination. Whether homosexual teachers “comeout” to students who think they are themselves homosexual, how counselors react to disclosuresof sexual identity by lesbian and gay students, and principals’ opinions about whetherhomosexual teachers should retain their jobs, are the nub of these investigations.“Representativeness” in these studies is further clarified in a growing body of writingsbearing strong resemblance to my study. Whereas validity is neither confirmed nor deniedsolely by whether the data analysis resembles that of other investigations, the fact of theresemblance suggests cognate or cross-referenced validity.Some commentators on validity (Wolcott 1990c; LeCompte & Goetz 1982) argue that nodefinitive understanding is possible, and for them cognate validity would surely suffice.Others are less sanguine, emphasizing reliability and credibility of evidence and of subjects(Denzin 1989; McMillan & Schumacher 1989).Concepts of internal and external validity or reliability suggest questions aboutinterpretation of data. For example, would accounts of school life match in argumentativeform or conceptual content, those discussed in analyses of school policies or practices? Wouldother gay and lesbian youth understand what I asked my interviewees? Would others respondto instances of experience as did the participants in my study? Would other researchers find9similarities of purpose, response, and understanding in similarly self-identified youth? Ibelieve so, on grounds of general interest in these matters, and also of agreement on them ingeneralizable research already published.Despite the similarities it must not be forgotten that people “rewrite” their personal historiesfor personal reasons: among them a more honest self-appraisal of one’s life, or a desire torepresent oneself more appealingly to the “crowd.” Understanding and insight, however, areperpetual possibilities, not realizations suddenly revealed at special, pre-ordained moments inour lives. Although the “rewriting” of lives challenges assertions of validity, it negates neitherthe possibilities of additional insight nor the value of current perception. Analysis of the datais not hampered by a possible change of mind in the future.Moreover, the subjects in this research may have in common their sexual orientation, butthis does not suggest they equivalently experience sexuality or draw from it similar conclusions.The group is not indicative of all similarly-educated homosexuals of the same age, in allcultures. The importance of the representativeness of a sample in a qualitative analysis differsfrom that needed when testing a specific hypothesis using positivist methods.Representativeness may be further complicated by the fact that people (my intervieweesincluded) are politically, socioeconomically, and intellectually varied. If a number of personsdisplay a common sexual identity, that commonality neither disguises nor denies thesevariations, nor will it account for the subjects’ evolving views on the self-same variations.Having mentioned the subjects and their interviews, it is appropriate to introduce themspecifically. Who are they? What are their biographical details? The generalities arestraightforward: all were between 17 and 22. All but three are male, and all but one hadgraduated from high school prior to the interview. Most are white. With one exception, allgraduated from high school. General observations, however, do not convey the more importantpersonal delineations that enrich interpretations of data. Their reasonings, attitudes, andconceptual frames, are the matter of later chapters. What follows is a precis of informationabout the participants, that may explain more vividly that may contextualize their reasonings.101.3 Participant ProfilesTwo observations about this study must be kept in mind. Although the thesis refersfrequently to gays and lesbians, several stated they do not close themselves off from bisexualinvolvement even if they accept themselves, and live, as lesbians or gays. Second, the researchsubjects were not equally forthright about personal information. What follows then are briefautobiographical capsules. Each participant decided whether to use his/her own name. I willnot indicate, however, which of the names are truly given and which are selected. To sospecify might make it easier to identify those who preferred anonymity.Ann (18)Ann has lived in various large and small centres in British Columbia. She remembers, as ayoung girl and long afterward, feeling out of place, particularly in school. Others perceivedher as different and treated her accordingly. She was fat, wore thick glasses and had eczema.(Most participants do not describe their physical appearances in earlier years. What Anndescribes is, in our society, a basis of differentiation and exclusion. Physical appearance andsexuality serve as a double-bind premise of disqualification. In a commonly constructed“explanation” of homosexuality, the homely person with low self-esteem looks to homosexualitybecause s/he lacks confidence with the opposite sex.)Trish (21)Throughout her interview, Trish conceptually linked lesbianism with feminism. She hadexperienced a couple of relationships prior to our meeting, and spoke confidently of heridentity. Her analysis of her schooling was more political than most other participants’, in thatshe conceived formal education as a political act. She said most students reject the schoolsystem and are alienated from it.11Louise (18)Louise emphasized her general bisexuality but current lesbianism. She stressed the generalfluidity of human sexual identification. Louise communicated her desire for flexibility andnot to be trapped by assumptions of identity and appropriate behaviour. She reiterated thispoint constantly. Louise was one of the participants who viewed education politically. Havingread previously a little of Michel Foucault’s work, she contemplated his thoughts on power asthey might apply to schools. Louise was unique among all participants; though she identifiedherself in the interview as, momentarily, lesbian, Louise quickly indicated her opposition tohow lesbians she knew set criteria that “defined” lesbianism: a look, for example, or a state ofmind, or a set of political attitudes. Louise said she keenly understood why she chose to beanything, and would not be shackled by shallow notions of group-think or “group-do.”Michael (21)Michael grew up in a small, homogeneous town in the American Midwest. His family isartistic- -a quality unappreciated in his hometown- -and Michael showed similar interests at anearly age. His family also flouted religious convention by going to a church in a nearbycommunity. From a very early age Michael was targeted by other students because theyassumed he was gay, and he was harassed throughout his school years until he decided to finishhigh school in a nearby city. Until he switched schools he was subjected to unrelenting verbaland physical intimidation.Sean (22)Sean grew up in Newfoundland and moved west after graduating from high school. Thoughhe chose to be quiet about his sexuality while still in high school, Sean indicated he wassexually aware in his early teens and never felt guilty about it. Most family members know ofhis homosexuality, as do his co-workers and friends. Sean is direct and public about hissexuality, a point he repeated frequently during the interview.12Andre (21)Andre was raised in the maritimes. He describes his hometown, and some family members,as homophobic. The family is wealthy and prominent (which may have protected Andre fromanti-gay conduct). Andre was sexually active throughout high school, is self-respecting, andfinds aspects of the west coast gay lifestyle confining. He distinguishes between his sexualidentity and his life. Sexual identity is a facet of his existence, not its core.Brent (19)Brent is East Indian and a west coast resident. As he spoke of his sexuality and schoolmemories, he also mentioned racist incidents he witnessed in elementary school. Brentsuspected his parents knew of his homosexuality because they regularly reassured him he couldspeak with them about anything without undermining their love of him. Some time before theinterview one of Brent’s uncles died of AIDS. Although the uncle had been estranged from hisfamily for years, Brent’s father supported him and mentioned him periodically to Brent andBrent and his siblings.Jack (19)Jack is Chinese and the youngest member of his family. A gap of 6 years separates him fromhis closest sibling. His parents are more traditionally Chinese, whereas Jack is fully integratedinto west coast Canadian society. His parents oppose homosexuality. As of the interview Jackhad not told them of his sexual orientation.Barry (21)Barry grew up in a small, rural Alberta town. The youngest in his family, Barry was eagerto escape to a larger centre. He explicitly stated his loathing of institutions such as schools,which he perceived as obstacles to serious inquiry about personal growth. When interviewed,Barry was just starting to explore his homosexuality.13Cohn (18)Most participants did not try to reduce homophobia in their high schools. Cohn, however,did try to increase the visibility of gay and lesbian social organizations, specifically a youthgroup. Cohn described his school years as substantially free of harassment, which he attributedto his size and sometimes-angry appearance. Commenting on his personality, Cohnacknowledged a tendency to behave prejudicially toward others. While certain of his sexuality,Cohn may have revealed some internalized homophobia when he said he would be more afraidof himself were he not gay, because he might be one who harasses homosexuals.Zachary (20)Zachary completed high school in Ontario. He “came out” in his senior year, and is the onlyone among the subjects who had a positive experience in school with students, teachers, andadministrators. Zachary helped found a city youth group, and was invited by counselors andteachers from other high schools to speak to their students about being gay. After he identifiedhimself as gay Zachary learned other members of his immediate and extended family arelesbian or gay. His family was therefore supportive; this was not universally the case for theothers in this study.James (18)James, a west coast resident all his life, is a Native who fluctuated between negative andpositive feelings about his people and his heritage. He expressed anger at how Natives wereportrayed in school texts, but most often pride and contempt were simultaneously vocalized.James has been sexually active since he was 6 years old, when he began having sex with aclassmate.Todd (17)Todd did not say much about his family, but expressed thoughts and feelings about school,14especially his final year. Early in that year Todd approached another student he thought wasgay and suggested an intimate relationship. The student informed everyone about the overture,and Todd spent the entire school year as a persecuted object. His locker was defaced, he wasbumped in the halls and his books hit, he was verbally taunted, and food was thrown at himwhen he sat in the cafeteria. Many times he considered quitting but decided he would not bedriven from school. He recounted the year without contempt for those who hounded him, buthe felt strong pride in the personal strength he displayed.A few thoughts about these profiles should be kept in mind. Not all participants arediscussed equally. I emphasize some interviews more than others because some are morerelevant to identity than to the discussion of influence, whereas others offer more insight intoschool influence than identity. Todd and James are mentioned very briefly. Analysis of theirinterviews proved more intractable than the others, but they still provided some observationsworth citing. Finally, although most interviews were conducted in Vancouver, two of thesecapsules are of people I interviewed in Grande Prairie, Alberta. While continuing my researchin Grande Prairie, I experienced several incidents that broadened its implications. Theseimplications contextualize the broader relevance of this work.1.4 Ritual and Politics in Local Data-GatheringIn the fall of 1992 I returned to northern Alberta from Vancouver, after two years’residency in the PhD program. I decided to seek additional volunteers to be interviewed. Iexpected at most a handful of research volunteers but still thought it worthwhile to interviewpeople away from a large urban centre such as Vancouver, should several come forward.Certain features of this data-gathering transcended the technicalities of researching andincidentally revealed local antagonism to my work in gay/lesbian studies. There were threesalient features: resistance to my advertising the research, a negative response to my comments15on gay/lesbian teens in a meeting with a regional school board, and the difficulty of findinga local person to transcribe the interview data.Grande Prairie is a curious city. There is little overt violence against homosexuals; peopleordinarily opposed to homosexuality do not feel immediately assailed by “otherness,” andtherefore feel they control the social situation. Some residents are entirely comfortable withhomosexuality. Generally, however, when people in a social environment do not feel besieged,they may treat those of whom they disapprove with condescending temperance. This is the casefor lesbians and gays in Grande Prairie.Forbearance and tolerance plot a subtle variance, a distinction that is often the fine linebetween social abuse and social restraint. Notwithstanding increasing tolerance and acceptancein northern Alberta, homosexuals know the distinction must always be understood andnegotiated. The three features of research referred to above inadvertently revealed the politicsunderlying the social arrangements of lesbians and gays, and not only in Grande Prairie.Understanding how people establish place in society as “deviants,” how they may succumb to,ignore, or contest such a designation, is as important to this research as a whole as it is to alocal analysis of Grande Prairie society.Establishing “place” can be a form of activism. Berlant and Freeman (1993) write about thepolitical activism and political importance of Queer Nation, a militant gay and lesbian groupformed in New York City in 1990 to protest inaction on AIDS funding, and to subvertprevalent practices that constitute, and confine, sexuality and gender. Berlant and Freemancomment on Queer Nation’s “I Hate Straights” declaration:The treatise goes on to suggest that the national failure to secure justice for all citizensis experienced locally, in public places where gay-bashing takes place, and even in moreintimate sites like the body: “Go tell [straights to] go away until they have spent a monthwalking hand in hand in public with someone of the same sex. After they survive that,then you’ll hear what they have to say about queer anger.” . . . . This emphasis on safeplaces, secured for bodies by capital and everyday practices, also, finally, constitutesa refusal of the terms national discourse uses to frame sexuality: being queer is notabout a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public. (p. 201)16Conducting research in both Grande Prairie and Vancouver revealed contrasts in the extentof this freedom. Or at the very least, it showed how an illusion of such freedom is more likelyin a centre of some gender dissent- - such as Vancouver- - compared to a small place like GrandePrairie. Interviews also disclosed similarities among the subjects, who indicated a range ofsocial accommodations, some emphasizing the acquisition of justice and personal safety, otherscontesting sexual definitions and intruding into public zones to proclaim their sexuality. Someacquiesced to a narrow normalcy, others protested sterile gender and sexual definitions.The first aspect of research to expose antagonism to my work was resistance to anadvertisement I attempted to place in a regional paper. I was rebuffed by the publisher andowner on moral and press-freedom grounds, as he cited his right to freedom of expression asa publisher. He viewed his paper as a moral fiefdom and had a long history of denyinghomosexually-oriented classified advertisements.What I usually consider a vital lifeline in the defense of ideas and analysis when allowedto operate substantively- - freedom of expression- - was exposed in this case as an inhibitory anddiscriminatory rubric. As a disinforming mask, the rubric is quite effective. It permits asociety to claim it supports free exploration of ideas while using the rubric for oppositepurposes.The surface meaning of the rubric is dissembling in that we believe its rhetoric is its realmeaning. Concealed within it however, is the real discursive intent and instrument, exercisedin this situation by an editor who justified his actions by saying he was merely reflecting thepredominant views of his rural community.On one hand this man is exemplary of the larger culture, given that we constantly censor,censure, and suppress “unconventional” values and interpretations. On the other hand, thereare people everywhere who impugn the status quo, who recast assumptions, and whopenetratingly see behind the veil of “freedom of expression” the discrediting of critical,potentially liberatory, thought.A local school board reacted similarly to how the editor responded, when I presented a17proposal for an inclusive curriculum-- to bring to the foreground ethnic, racial, and sexualissues-- in sex education and other subject areas. Among the reasons I offered for modifyingthe curriculum was the despondency of many lesbian and gay students who never seethemselves in what they read, hear, and see in schools, a despondency that can lead to self-destruction.All curriculum is informally controlled by the provincial Ministry of Education, but isimplemented with considerable local variation. I did not suggest modifications that wouldconflict with the provincial legislative prerogative. My purpose instead was to urge expansionof the curriculum by making more people visible to each other. My recommendation thatteachers be informed of their impact on students through anti-homosexual jokes, innuendo, andexplicit discrimination, and that the school board rebuke and change such unprofessional,prejudicial behaviour when it occurs, requires no provincial input. The Board had thejurisdiction to implement such a policy.Though received politely by Board members (notwithstanding allusions to homosexualityas a problem), I later learned the superintendent had declared in a radio news interview thatnothing would be done because (1) the data I presented were based on American studies (thematerial was drawn from international sources); (2) it was not pertinent to Canadian schoolsor Canadian students (thereby asserting new concepts of psychology and sexuality tied tonationality); and (3) there were no people with homosexual problems in their schools, sincenobody had come forward to disclose his/her homosexuality.Two observations emerge from my experience. First, despite the dubious statisticaldistinction of northern Alberta consistently having, for many years, the highest per capitasuicide rate of any part of the province, the editor of the regional newspaper, and the schoolboard, chose to overlook one possible cause of suicide among teens in their communities. Ineffect, they decided that only students with “legitimate” reasons for terminating their livesshould have access to resources that might alleviate or disperse suicidal inclinations. Second,while insisting there are no gays or lesbians in their domains, the editor and school board18members used the alleged absence and invisibility of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to createprecisely those conditions that cage them in invisible states.Simultaneously with the appearance before the school board and the “skirmish” with thenewspaper editor, I tried to find a local individual who would transcribe my interviews. Thefirst person who came to mind was friendly and receptive to the idea. Between our first phonecontact and the actual meeting she noticed my ad in the local paper asking for more researchsubjects. When we met she was distraught. She asked whether my work would stress a positiveinterpretation of homosexuals. She had repeatedly consulted her bible since learning of mystudy, she said, and could not transcribe the material. She could not sanction my work bycollaborating in it.At the time I thought my response to her was humane, judicious, and empathetic. I told herI respected her views and that I appreciated her seeing me in person to communicate herdecision. She began to cry, telling me I was being very nice about everything. I reassured herand hugged her as she was leaving.My interpretation of this incident has changed. My response bypassed a critical andpossibly transformative moment. I had not challenged her understanding of sexuality orhomosexuality. The result was a feel-good moment devoid of political impact. Instead ofparticipating in what would probably have been an awkward yet informative interaction, Icolluded with prevailing attitudes and permitted the experience to become just another“research moment,” an anecdotal memory.For all that cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have changed, gays and lesbians areyet excluded and subordinated. They confront an unenviable choice: whether to participatein behaviour that demeans them, but that confirms they are “cool” and can accept “criticism,”or to express their opposition to such behaviour, and perhaps incur societal disapproval orhostility.Researching in rural Alberta crystallized unenviable choices. It constantly contrastedsimply negative interactions and increasingly sharp insight into community cohesion and19political accommodation, and their implications for social change. With insight comesappreciation of paradox, in this case the paradox of how politically liberating activity canmake daily gay and lesbian existence more complicated and hazardous.Merely to mention paradox, however, insufficiently discusses the meanings of these three“tales.” The practical reasonings and conceptual vocabularies of the editor, the school boardmembers, and the transcriber, are from the same ambience as the research subjects. Researchin northern Alberta therefore indirectly assists my claims of significance, validity, andreliability.1.4 From Here to Eternity: The Paradox of Social ChangeAll interactions with others require some clarification of boundaries between acceptablesocial criticism and unacceptable transgression of social practices. These boundaries involveboth verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Those who seek reconsideration of attitudes andassumptions must know the perils of negotiating beyond these limits. Negotiating entails notjust discussion, but the raising of issues that may alienate advocates of change from theircommunities, thus potentially harming the very credibility that allows them to have positiveeffect.This study examines young homosexuals’ ideas about influence and identity, and whetherschools intend to influence students’ understanding of identity and sexual identity.Negotiating boundaries and interpreting limits of social practices cannot be separated fromthese youths’ associations of school experiences and school intentions.Despite differences among and between gays and lesbians regarding political goals, mostwould agree they need to establish or expand institutions that are vital to the relaxedexpression of identity and necessary for ongoing change of social policies.Most participants in this study did not have political intentions while in high school. Thereis a subtle connection between having such intent- - devising political programs, educational or20more demonstrative- -and being able to detect political intentions in others. Participants couldpinpoint the educational, social, and administrative practices that alienated them. But they didnot recognize schools as political institutions, as counterpoints to the gay/lesbian institutions(for example, youth groups within and outside of schools) which the participants supported.They were not forthright radicals demanding that schools immediately and fully acknowledgetheir presence. Most were not in the vanguard of lobbying, protesting, or simply imploringchange. Nevertheless, they understood the struggle for recognition, respect, and acceptancewould be long and arduous, and the resolution of their efforts perhaps an eternity away.1.5 Ritual and IdentityReligious and mental health doctrines helped politicize homosexual identities throughcondemnation and suppression. Lesbian and gay activists have responded with 25 years ofearnest politicking against social stereotypes and supposedly-scientific proof of mentalinfirmity. Considerable progress, though not sufficient success, is the result. Most major citiesof Canada have gay/lesbian groups and clubs, our courts have registered some victories on ourbehalf, and overt same-sex behaviour has compelled the attention of public and electedofficials.Despite these signs of greater acceptance, large numbers of lesbians and gay men remainonly circumspectly visible. They carefully gauge the risks of public demonstrativeness in asociety still prone to violent outbursts against them. This leaves people grasping to establishhavens for themselves, contexts in which they can live without fear of reprisal or disapproval.Goffman (1959: 238), writing on the defining of situations, speaks of roles constitutingidentity. These roles for many evolve in a social establishment, he says, which in his view isany physical or symbolic “place surrounded by fixed barriers to perception[,] in which aparticular kind of activity regularly takes place.” Gays and lesbians always consider thesebarriers-- as does any researcher among them trying to implement a methodology- -because the21quality of their lives depends on how virulent and ubiquitous these barriers are.The vigilance necessary in daily life may be relaxed in certain environments, for examplein a disco club, where delicately crafted survival strategies can be momentarily suspended.Clubs, however, may also be venues of resistance.Although resistance theory puts cultural reproduction in a capitalist context by linkingwhat is learned in school with the attitudes and habits necessary to make reliable workers ina capitalist economy, its concepts are also applicable to cultures of sexuality.Reproduction and resistance theory is discussed in another chapter where it is more relevantto the argument of the thesis. However, a brief reference here to its main ideas- - hegemony andcounter-hegemony (Apple 1985; Giroux 1983), and resistance (Bourdieu & Passeron 1977)- -isinorder.Society tries to assure its political and social norms will survive through future generationsby teaching the appropriateness of these norms and the values on which they rest, and thenenforces these against “claims” by other ideas, on which basis different norms or practices maybe established. “Official” social values often align with practices and attitudes withinprominent social classes or elites.If society successfully achieves this sought-after predominance, it may said to have createda hegemony of particular values. But not everyone fits easily into social patterns, and whenthe fit is especially uncomfortable resistance may develop. If sufficiently coherent andorganized to challenge prevailing sociocultural practices, resistance constitutes a rudimentaryform of counter-hegemony.Ideas of reproduction and resistance, then, enclose personal and social meanings. Suchmeanings are forged, for example, in gay and lesbian clubs. In such environments,undercurrents of heterosexist attitudes and appropriate club socializing vie with attitudes andbehaviours proclaiming “gayness.” However limited this alleviating environment, in whichhomosexuals’ survival strategies are tested and adapted, it can placate cultural negotiators’suspiciousness. The clubs become, however strong the temporary illusion, locations where the22larger culture is apparently negated and another premise of social relations is established.Because of legal restrictions, most participants in this study could not have expected regularadmittance to lesbian or gay clubs when they were still in high school. This hamperedcommunication of survival strategies and other points of “wisdom” through interaction witholder homosexuals.My focus at this stage of the thesis is the development of social institutions for homosexualsand the everyday price they pay for instigating social change in their local communities. Forgays and lesbians, as for other stigmatized peoples, reification of queer culture presentsproblems beyond the creation of institutions to sustain and nurture their identities.Stigmatized individuals often endorse the premises of their own oppression (Goffman 1963).Therefore, social insistence that they demur in their demands for recognition and change insocial policy, in return for harmony in daily relationships, can be tormenting.What is constantly played out then, is the struggle between a need for environments thatallow exploration of identity, and the countervailing force that encourages, if it does notcompel, restraint. Schools do not emerge in this research as environments that facilitateexploration. Precisely the opposite is the case.Jeffrey Weeks says “[s]exuality is as much about words, images, ritual and fantasy as it isabout the body.” (Weeks 1985: 3) Every compromise that discounts expression in words andimages and rituals may ironically intensify the need to put thought, fantasy, deed, and identityat the source of action. As Weeks goes on to suggest in Sexuality and its discontents, we livewithin and between realms of habits and ideas, ideals and expectations. Without strategies thatbuild our institutions, we move in these realms as isolates. Such was the experience of manyof the participants in this research.A researcher may anticipate a thesis topic will be controversial but not necessarily themethodology. However, when methodology is caught up in the politics of the topic the twobecome less readily distinguishable. As homosexuals seek to establish cultures in worldssuffused with heterosexual values, studies of their lives, and therefore any methodology23affiliated with them, are politicized. The tension between creating our social institutions andaccommodating ourselves to small, often adverse local cultures, filters into the very act ofresearching. As a gay researcher I was caught in this web of contradictory regimes.Throughout the thesis I periodically mention Foucault’s ideas on power and discoursebecause they impress me by their explanation of the interrelationship of authority, ideology,socialization, and the intricacies of individuals’ responses. Foucault describes discourse as thebroad, intricate grid through which human activity and its contingencies are played out(Foucault 1972; 1980). In any given historical moment the prevailing set of discourses seemseverlasting, a cultural “thing” immutably fixed in mind and practise. But as Roland Barthessuggests, the impression of endless life is a deception achieved through myth. As quoted byWeeks, Barthes’ view is that “myth has the task of giving an historical invention a naturaljustification, and making contingency appear eternal.” (Weeks 1985: 59)I don’t quote Barthes because I want to plumb the role of mythology as a social cohesive,but because he asserts the value of concealing invention in a mythological disguise. Socialcontrivance appears as a natural and inevitable development. Vested interests support thisdeception, and faith in its truth inspires it.Maligned groups especially have need of mythologies, or to invoke Barthes’ idea, of theirinstitutional inventions. Or, to refer back to Weeks, they especially need to make their (self-)images, rituals, and fantasies appear natural and reasonable. But translating rituals andfantasies into daily and common practice requires a critical mass of like-minded people.Participants’ experiences indicate schools isolate homosexuals from each other. Only a coupleof them were aware of other lesbian or gay students. No critical mass existed for them.Most subjects said schools deceive students by limiting curricular exposure and publicexpression. Discounted groups often concentrate on survival and the simultaneous need toconceal identity. In such a state the grasp of compromise is instantly evident, even inVancouver where so many support groups exist. The participants devised various survivalstrategies, most commonly presenting distorted portrayals of themselves to peers and pursuing24personal interests.When contingencies operate as if they constitute the natural order, rarely noticeable andrarely named, the underlying coercion, of which they are signs and systems, remainsundisclosed. Vhen contingencies are revealed, there is little to buffer the bitter truth of asubordinate social position. For all the changes that have transpired in society the bitternessendures for many homosexuals.These contingencies operate along several axes apart from gender, for example race,religion, and social class. This study does not analyze these categories of social phenomena, butI recognize the necessity to deal with them correlatively in another study. In this analysis Ithought it most pertinent to get at the subjects’ logic of the correlation first, rather than thematerial forces that compel that logic. Studying race, religion, and class would address thematerial circumstances shaping the participants’ logics.As I will show, participants detect some contingencies but not usually those subtlyembedded in school practices. Overwhelmingly they remember schools as alienatingenvironments, despite the variety of schools they attended. The schools’ cultures, theircommunity milieux, and their locations (urban and rural), all worked to intensify that feeling.This thesis probes associations of identity formation and recollections of schooling in thelives of thirteen young lesbians and gays. Two broad issues serve as a framework to analyzethe associations that, defensibly, may be said to link school and personal identity: the subjects’ideas about what influence is- - and whether schools indeed influence (deliberately orinadvertently)- - and their concepts of identity and their manifestation in school curricula.25Chapter 2School Influence2.1 Introductory NotionsI begin this chapter with a general observation: the value of educative experience derivespartly from the difference between assumed outcomes and observed outcomes. To be educatedin the broadest sense is to witness our lives changing. Such educating brings us to the frontierof what we think we know and understand, and slaps us in the face with a glimpse of ourignorance. The disclosure of fissures in what we think are seamless, coherent, and closedunderstandings may be unnerving but also exhilarating.In what context are we more likely to realize fissures exist? We are not as generous in ourappreciation of the educative experience of schools as we are of the educative value of lifeexperience, and we do not often speak wistfully of life experience acquired in schools. Schoolsare institutions of compulsion, evaluation, and control. Ironically, it may be that because theyare so characterized, we expect them to be successful in their narrow curricular aims, butidentify them less often as being more broadly educative.Whether or not schools influence students may be ascertained differently if we compareschools’ broader goals and their more immediate curricular objectives. (The participants’consideration of school influence gave these immediate objectives greater importance than longterm educational goals.) In any analysis of influence, we may ascribe to schools’ intent to beinfluential, the inevitable accomplishment of the intent. There are good reasons to challengethis ascription.To look at the surface operations of schools- - at the regularity of a day divided into fixed26periods of time, at the scenes of teachers in classrooms engaging in pedagogical motions, atstudents occasionally occupied by curricular assignments, and at the interconnectedness of allschools-- is to be impressed by the pervasiveness of the system. This very pervasiveness maypersuade us of its influence. Robert Dreeben explores how school curricula, official andhidden, draw children away from expectations that emotional ties will assure their success, toan understanding of schooling as a series of judgments based on performance within anadministrative hierarchy. Such judgments are political (in the development of Americancitizens) as well as intellectual (Dreeben 1968). (They are political in another way: they are thebackbone of school socialization of the young. Advocates of reproduction theories look partlyto schools for evidence confirming their analyses.) These are the particulars of pervasiveness.Something so widespread and apparently so unified as a school system, then, can convincethrough the sheer reach of its operation. And we may infer from this reach educators’ desireto influence. To speak of educating without intent, after all, may be a contradiction in terms(Peters 1968). Education embodies a wilful and purposeful desire to effect behavioural andattitudinal change. However, beneath the tranquil surface are conflicts that should lead us todispute this conclusion.Student acquiescence to school norms does not count as an endorsement of school intentions,nor does teacher agreement with those norms signify a commitment to all curricular goals. Theregularity of institutional operations, on the basis of which we may assume an interlocking ofpurpose and influence, can be highly deceiving. Outcomes of schooling may diverge fromapparent school intent. Recurrent practices do not in themselves confirm or deny schoolinfluence. However, the meanings the participants attach to these recurrences convey theirsense of whether such influence exists.Some studies point to continuing contention and negotiation between school personnel andstudents, on issues that range from what will be taught and how, to forms of student resistanceMetz’s (1978) and McNeil’s (1988) work provide two examples. Their research informs thisresearch by examining how students assess school and its relevance to their lives.27Metz investigates students’ and teachers’ interpretations of in-class relationships and of therelevance of the curriculum. Authority to teach the curriculum, says Metz, is established bywhat transpires “around” the school- - a moral quality or postulate rooted in the social purposesof schooling. If students accept the morality of schooling and support the values underpinningit, they are more likely to overlook poor teaching or intellectually incompetent teachers. Thesubjects of this research also evaluate the moral premise of schooling although they don’texpress the issue as Metz does.They recount experiences associated with official curriculum (and hidden curriculum toa lesser degree). The moral purpose of education to which Metz refers fits a liberal-humanistexpectation evident in the subjects’ interviews, and one they assume is the foundation of theirown education. Participants believe schools should enlighten students, and are disappointedwhen they don’t. They are frustrated by having to explain to themselves why schools fall shortof their expectations.When I refer to liberal-humanist expectations I mean the role of the state in thedevelopment of the self. A liberal-humanist position suggests individuals’ needs and personalobjectives harmoniously intersect state policies, such that few contradictions arise betweenpersonal and social imperatives. Twentieth-century liberalism sanctions using the state toameliorate social ills while continuing to emphasize the tenets of individual freedom in amodern, pluralistic world. (Eldridge 1983) The establishment of the school as a socialinstitution builds on liberal-humanist tenets. The rhetoric of schooling stresses individualachievement, freedom of intellectual investigation, and the enlightenment of all students. Thesubjects of this research believe the rhetoric. The school, however, is quintessentially a moderninstitution devoted to moral indoctrination of the young.Metz is not alone in her interest in schools. Linda McNeil writes also of how teacherspersonally, and schools institutionally, gain authority over students. Her value to this work liesin her analysis of students’ and teachers’ posturing, pedagogical feints, and reasons forcompromising in classrooms. The picture of schools that comes from her study shows that we28don’t always come close to achieving the goals of mass education, and indicates personal andgroup interests of teachers and students becoming part of the negotiating strategies. Learningis not simply a cause-effect connection, and neither are the questions of whether and howschools influence students.Negotiating in itself suggests school dynamics are not exclusively established or limited bythe intentions that lie behind school practices. In schools the working out of arrangements andalliances between students and teachers, and the balancing of power between officiallysanctioned rights of school personnel on one hand and de facto rights of students on the other,may draw teachers and school officials a considerable distance away from what they thinkschools should do. Metz writes of a relationship of authority between schoolers and schooled,in which the latter accept at least some of the precepts and purposes of formal education, thusallowing some learning to occur.What learning does transpire may be the intended result of the official curriculum. Butthere is also the hidden curriculum, that domain of unseen yet felt structures and pressures that“nudge” us into repudiating some ideas, beliefs, and behaviours, and accepting and followingother ideas, beliefs, and behaviours. It is the quiet side of a louder effort.John Kerr quotes Beauchamp’s definition of curriculum. It is, Beauchamp says, “a designof a social group for the educational experiences of their children in school.” (Kerr 1968: 16)The quiet side of this design- -the hidden curriculum- - may spark less opposition than theofficial curriculum just because it is less visible. But it is not less important to the achievementof schools’ socializing goals than is the official curriculum.Apple (1985) writes that education teaches what passes for knowledge in society, but thatit also produces knowledge. The knowledge produced consists of economic and politicalunderstandings necessary to assure capitalism will endure. And this produced knowledge (or,I suggest, most kinds) produces at the same time concepts of deviance.“Deviance” is essential to social control, and therefore to the punishment and censure oftransgressors in social institutions such as schools. As homosexuality is considered deviant in29most school jurisdictions, it is thus made a basis of discrimination. How does the hiddencurriculum support this development? Elizabeth Vallance’s explanation of the hiddencurriculum, quoted by Giroux, provides insight:I use the term to refer to those non-academic but educationally significant consequencesof schooling that occur systematically but are not made explicit at any level of thepublic rationales for education . . . It refers broadly to the social control function ofschooling. (Giroux 1983: 47)As will be seen in later chapters, what remains unexplicit is what frustrated and angered thesubjects, and often still does. They believe schools are liberal institutions designed to benefitall students equally. The lack of directness and clarity stems from the rarity of liberal-humanist objectives among the school’s purposes.Giroux makes more explicit the history and politics that Valiance says is concealed fromstudents and the public: “The nature of school pedagogy was to be found not only in thestated purposes of school rationales and teacher-prepared objectives but also in the myriadbeliefs and values transmitted tacitly through the social relations and routines thatcharacterized day-to-day school experience.” (p. 45)Understanding curricular objectives and various forms of school influence, then, can helpus account for the arrangements, alliances, and balancings in schools. As will be shown later,variations among schools were minimal in the subjects’ recollections of them. Their experiencesand ideas, in fact, delineate the school as a social institution with socializing purposes anddesign, not as a generalized system of schooling with uniquely differentiated schools. Whereasthe subjects see the broadly educative purpose of schools to teach people to fit in society, theydo not usually perceive the larger institutional (and political) framework of socialization.In some respects students are similar to inmates of prisons. The inmates effectively controlthe prison. Wardens and guards survey the perimeter and tenuously patrol the interior. Thelife of the prison, the deployment of fear, the establishment of relationships, the coalitionsbased on race or type of crime, and so on, are determined by those incarcerated.30Of course the analogy is inexact because non-boarding schools are not as sealed off fromthe rest of society as prisons are. Students are exposed to external cultural influencesordinarily denied to inmates. Nevertheless, students do grapple with school cultures no lesslimiting or hurtful than the cultures of more security-conscious institutions. In schoolsstudents may expect different treatment than what they receive, or expect schools to teachdifferently. Such expectations are evident among this study’s participants.Homosexuals I interviewed refuse to see themselves as abnormal. They want the schoolsystem to teach others that homosexuality is normal, that it is a legitimate, honest, and ordinaryset of human dispositions and affinities. Their refusal to accept their “abnormality” makesthem stalwart in the face of discrediting ideas and behaviours. Yet they do not see theirsteadfastness as a sign of school influence despite it coming into play because of experiencesthey’ve had in school. The subjects do not think their anger, activated and fanned byclassroom experiences, is a reaction to deliberate disparagement of homosexuality in school.* * * * *Are schools influential? If participants say they responded to policies of schools, even ifthey do not describe them as policies, I acknowledge this as school influence manifested asschool intent or student response.I take the view that in a social science argument such as this thesis I should begin withcommonsensical, ordinary-language definitions of terms, and then move on to stipulativedefinitions appropriate to this research. So I start with a few helpful generalities, keeping inmind always that this chapter does not merely follow dictionary definitions.Data do not always conform to pre-determined definitions. We may mistakenly ascribeinfluential status to people or events. And it is often difficult to decide accurately who didwhat to us and how action may be linked to result. Because we are told travel is important andbroadening, for example, we may attribute part of our personal maturation and awareness ofother societies to some travelling we have done. That travel can be seen to influence ourappreciation of other cultures is possible because we also assume travel has inherent value, that31it exposes our narrowness and informs us about other peoples. Whether or not a specificoccasion of travel is indeed informative is not necessarily connected to our interpretation ofa particular trip. Some general definitions are therefore helpful as a starting point becausethey allow us to review the overall sweep of our lives without having to establish a cause-effectrelationship for every detail of them.The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971: 269-70) provides variousdefinitions of influence: “the inflowing, immission, or infusion (into a person or thing) of anykind of divine, spiritual, moral, immaterial, or secret power or principle” (original emphasis);an “exertion of action of which the operation is unseen or insensible (or perceptible only in itseffects)...” Further Oxford definitions refer to affecting a person’s mind or action byinducement, inspiration, or infusion.These definitions allow for the description of a general, cumulative impression. “Our liveshave changed,” the subjects of this research might say, without being able to specify everynuance of change. But to say that not every nuance is mentioned is not the same as saying noneshould be mentioned, or that the statement could not reasonably be made unless all subtletieswere reported. Further, one might claim that influence was evident without having to indicatedramatic personal change. I assume schools influenced the participants when the latter indicatethey had to adjust their behaviour, attitudes, and expression of feelings, in ways counter totheir thoughts and inclinations, as responses to their school experiences. I assume experienceis influential if its outcome displaced the subjects’ own experience and knowledge, becausethrough displacement students become susceptible to school discourse. I assume influence existswhen the subjects do not classify these experiences as forms of influence, but nonethelessexpress anger at being forced to behave differently than they otherwise wanted. Thus, anyschool experience mentioned by the interviewees that provoked or induced in them adefinitional or behavioural response, I consider influential. And I consider influence in boththe official and the hidden curriculum. At the end of this chapter I will reconsider thedefinitions stipulated in this early section, to see how the data change the definitions of32“influence.”Participants’ ideas on influence have been placed in different categories 1 think help themy general analysis. Nonetheless I hesitate to categorize each participant’s interview data, fortwo reasons. First, I know how adamant most were about feeling trapped by categoricalexpressions made in school about homosexuality, and how they felt caricatured, demeaned, andutterly dismissed by those stating derogatory or uninformed thoughts. Second, the data itselfis not easily classifiable. Uncertainties are occasionally stressed, the subjects grapple withquestions they hadn’t thought of before, and they try to do justice in their answers to thebreadth of their thoughts. Indeed, some interviews “slip” into more than one category.However, I have placed the subjects in one category or another, referring to how they may alsofit in another when it is appropriate to do so.2.2 Student Detection of InfluenceParticipants’ association of school experiences with school’s institutional influence moreoften suggested non-deliberateness than explicit linkage. They did not cite cause-effectconnections (nor was I looking for any). But they did assume the influence of teachers andschool milieu on other students. The participants believed students detect how teacherscategorize people and behaviours, but the subjects didn’t tie the categorizing to institutionalpurpose. “Influence”, then, may also be understood, in the practical reasoning of students, asreferring to the potential improvement of attitudes and behaviours rather than to itsguaranteed outcome. Participants expected that teaching about homosexuality as a normalexpression of human identification and affinity would dissolve some anti-gay categorizing andthe prejudice accompanying it.Teaching about homosexuality means making visible what is significantly invisible in mostschool curricula. Participants suggest school influence exists when they describe sexualprohibition in school culture. They do not specifically name what they see, but they describe33prohibition so encompassing that people learn what not to ask or to display even without theoccurrence of open discussion of homosexuality in classrooms. And because the subjects do notname what they experience as a form of prohibition, they detect influence in the daily rhythmsof school life that socialize, normalize, and authorize, but do not catch school influence as abroader political intent underlying both the official and the hidden curriculum.Because they do not understand schooling as a political act, the participants cannot criticizethe school as a social institution; they assume school influence, if negative, is so because schools‘don’t know’ better what to teach. They assume a liberal-humanist curriculum that is meantto- -and sometimes does- -enlighten students. In this case, however, the liberal-humanist sheenhides the politics of a school system devoted to socialization and only occasional enlightenment.This is the irony in the position of most respondents, for the source of their opposition to thecurriculum- -and of their uncertainty about whether school influence exists- -is what alsowarrants their acknowledgement of the possibility and value of school influence. They acceptthe normative, socializing, functionalist raison d’etre of school as an institution- - the verypurpose that discounts them in school. They accept it without realizing it.There is a question, however, whether such realization must be consciously understood bystudents and/or willingly complied with to establish the terms of student-teacher relationships,and thus of some kind of school influence. Willis (1977) writes of some working class boys whoresist school culture but who ultimately fulfil the social class and educational expectations ofthem as learned through the very school experience they allegedly reject. If students do notunderstand negotiations are regularly conducted over what and how curriculum will be taught,can they consider whether and how schools influence them and their peers?Gays and lesbians may have a more difficult time than other students negotiating their waythrough intersecting mazes of rhetorical intent and the actual practices of schools. Theyrecognize the anti-homosexual views that filter through the formal and hidden curricula, eitherthrough overtly negative comments or complete exclusion. Participants indicated that lesbianand gay issues were virtually never mentioned in their classes, a phenomenon reiterated in34other research (Rofes 1989; Sears 1991a, 1987; Trenchard & Warren 1985; Green 1991). Harderto identify for the researcher is the actual intent of any given school experience cited bysubjects, to decide whether what they sensed in daily school experience is what schoolsintended students to learn.* * * *In its most idealistic and well-intentioned garb, the school system is universally helpful andconcerned. Teachers are supposed to be kind, interested in students, and trustworthy. Theirprimary objective is to nurture, guide, and encourage their students. If students have problems,no obstacle should thwart disclosure of these to a teacher or counselor, or so we assume.However, a chasm separates reality and the ideal. Other research indicates school personnel,including those in continuous contact with students such as teachers and counselors, may behomophobic and discriminatory (Smith 1985; Fischer 1982; Sears 1991). Lesbian and gaystudents must constantly judge, beyond what is usual for other students, the difference betweenthe ideal and the reality of school life. Webs of hypocrisy may conceal hostile personal motives.How influential are schools? Do the subjects interpret the “lesson(s)” of the curriculum onsexual matters as being part of a broader, deliberate effort by schools to influence concepts ofsexuality, and sexual choices? Do they associate school experience with the development oftheir own sexual identities? All of these questions arose as discussion proceeded on two briefqueries: “Do you think schools influence students? If so, how do they achieve their influence,and in what ways are students influenced?”Respondents unanimously tied their answers to sexual identity even as they mentioned otheraspects of school life. When considering if and how school influence was present in theireducation, they did so in terms of sexual identity- -how such identity was referred to byteachers or texts, whether the allusions were sex-positive or sex-negative, whether thereferences stereotyped homosexuals, and how the subjects themselves responded to curricularendorsement of only a limited range of (heterosexual) identities. They indicated that whatinfluence there may be is felt most immediately through the daily experience of curriculum35and social interaction.Daily experience of school life includes expression of students’ ideas and behaviours. Someacts, understandings, and ambitions, however, are classified in school as beyond the pale, forno other reason than because a counterpoint to the “norm” is necessary to solidify normativebehaviour. To define any identity as ‘normal” is simultaneously to discredit and deny, ineffect if not intent, other identities and behaviour. Schools may therefore be said to influenceto the degree they reinforce in students normative expectations of structured environments,and also to the extent they displace personal knowledge and experience with school knowledge.2.3 Curriculum and SexualityWhen participants were asked if and how schools influenced students, they answeredindirectly. Generally speaking, they could not firmly say schools were or were not influential.Most could not remember overtly anti-gay or anti-lesbian jokes by, or behaviour of, teachers,but at the same time found attitudes of hostility towards homosexuals in students.Hostility was expressed in various ways. Most disturbing of all was the casualness, the easyapplication, of an epithet- - “fag”- - to anyone, whether lesbian, gay, or neither. To be singled outand harassed relentlessly because of a known sexual identity is terrible in itself, but to be madeinto a generic category of opprobrium and disgust is intense vilification. This work is notintended to analyze extensively the mechanisms and effects of this singling out, but thetargeting of homosexuals is important to note because participants detected and reacted to itangrily. Students’ responses to mention of homosexuality is relevant to the extent the subjectsassociated school environments with teachers’ behaviour.People who are marginalized, and then repudiated and silenced, may be able, throughexperience, to develop social responses that slightly alleviate the effects of defamation. Butthis may be more likely when the defamation is limited to these people or others like them.When the condemnation becomes so diffused in social expression that it appears to dominate36public comments among individuals, the result can be overwhelming isolation and anger. Suchcondemnation was heard in the schools attended by the participants.What follows is a discussion of school phenomena that the subjects occasionally thinkconstitute influence, and at other times recognize only as unimportant, surface details inscribedon a broader educational grid. Though the question asked of them was phrased without anymention of sexuality, sex education, or identity, the youth frequently referred to experiencesthat made them consider their sexuality.* * * * *School influence as discussed by the respondents is best discussed, I think, from threevantage points. Each communicates a variant of understanding among the subjects, of theirschool years. One vantage point is derived from experiencing the official curriculum as aregime that demands sexual invisibility. Another comes from an understanding of schools asprocedural (and occasionally, in their view, neutral) venues. The last vantage point emergesfrom different intensities of subject resistance. All three categories are connected in thatrespondents express thoughts not exclusively resistant or accommodationist. As the participantsstrive to collect their memories and analyze them, they invoke implicit ideas of what becomingeducated people means, and what expectation we may rightfully assert of how we educate andare educated.Few people in our society would argue with the value of becoming an educated person.Whether as a gateway to a lucrative career or new insight, education beckons most of us. Howand where we acquire the education- - whether at home or in a school- - is less important to usthan what is up for grabs, curricularly speaking. To those who see in an official curriculumthe best of a culture ready to be accessed by inquisitive minds, there is rarely a debate aboutthe liabilities of pre-determining subject matter for all students. But for students who perceivein an official curriculum the strictures of regulation and disdain, several possible reactionscome to mind.They may note the offending details and suffer silently or try to evade them as much as37possible; they may try to fit in with everyone else, either because they sincerely believe theyshould or because they don’t know what else to do; or they may decide to resist, howeverfeasibly, an ever-encroaching regime. These examples do not exhaust the list of possibilities,but they do enclose the responses of the participants in this research.(a) Official curriculum and the experience of invisibility: The Cases of Ann, Brent, and BarryNot all subjects in this category interpreted and responded to school curriculum similarly.Although most shared a general sense of invisibility they reacted differently to differentaspects of the curriculum. Ann, 18, saw in school discourse widespread displacement ofstudents’ understandings and awareness of personal experience. She saw the use of power inschool, and the authority derived from it, not as a liberating and enlightening force- - as mightbe expected in a liberal-humanist institution devoted to the well-being of all its charges- -butinstead as an imposing force. School life in Ann’s eyes was not the crucible of a personaljourney but a place where students were fitted with cultural templates. The means and theprice of taking on these templates was invisibility. Ann saw the imposition of the price as anunjustified and capricious use of authority (and power). And students respond accordingly- -and antagonistically. But Ann adds a unique feature to her analysis: students’ antagonism isalso the expression of natural conflict with the adult world.Ann does not allow this observation to lessen her anger, but she uses it to present a complexanalysis of what teachers and students struggle with while in school.Ann: Capricious Authority, Natural AntagonismInvisibility did not develop in Ann’s schooling from a total ban on references tohomosexuality. She heard about it in her classes, but through a discrediting set of standards.My sexual experiences with girls . . . . I found them so much more satisfying than the• ridiculous encounters with guys my age ... . I sort of thought, . . . how do you feelif . . . you’re told that it’s like a phase, that it’s totally trivializing something that’svery important to you . . . . it’s part of the adult view towards teenagers that .. . you’re38not really aware of what you’re doing, you don’t really have control over what you’redoing, you’re just doing things because other people are doing them . . . . itreally almost angered me. Because I thought I ... knew what I was doing, I wasn’tjust doing it because other people wanted me to.Ascribed motives and trivialization are what Ann experienced in school. Adults tried tosupplant students’ understandings with their own, to nullify students’ interpretations. Adultpower based on assumptions about teenagers’ motives disqualified Ann’s choices and herreasons for them. In Ann’s account, adults do not even recognize a student standpoint (andperhaps an identity?), let alone recognize their conscious displacement of students’ self-awareness with externally imposed awareness.’I assume school influence exists when the subjects mention the displacement of studentsknowledge with school knowledge. For Ann the lack of recognition from adults that she mightunderstand her own life may be the ultimate disqualification, and in a way she thinks thiscaused her to suppress memories of early lesbian experience.At 12 she’d had a sexual relationship with another girl. Though Ann does not directly saysex education influenced her to suppress her recollection of the relationship, she implies asmuch when she says “in sex education classes they tell you . . . you might have relationshipswith people of your own sex, but that’s only because you’re not willing . . . not ready to takeoff into heterosexuality.” Ann said this immediately after recounting her memory loss.More important than the reliability of her logic here is the fact that she would comment atall in this way. Perhaps the influence identified by Ann was an adjunct to prevalent anti-homosexual influence in society at large. Whatever the explanation, Ann singles out acurriculum she assumes should be representative of people’s lives. It wasn’t when she was astudent, and she attributes her repressed memory to this deficit.What kind of curriculum gives Ann what she is looking for, a curriculum that illustratesthe spectrum of human experience, ambition, and identity? One rarely seen, for it assumes noprior curricular purpose beyond the workings of discovery and developing insight of students.I conceive curriculum as cumulative school experience that unites purpose and growing39awareness of the world and oneself. Such a conception risks becoming reductionist bydeclaring every aspect of school life, random or structured, a significant source of learning.But what I have in mind is what Gail McCutheon says, as quoted by Cherryholmes: ‘Bycurriculum I mean what students have an opportunity to learn in school, through both thehidden and overt curriculum, and what they do not have an opportunity to learn.”(Cherryholmes 1988: 133)This is the kind of curriculum Ann sees in school, especially in its foreclosure ofopportunity. On the other hand, Ann would surely endorse Robert Graham’s thoughts onreconceptualizing curriculum. Graham calls on us to recognize autobiography as part ofcurricular knowledge, to register the importance of “the student’s search for meaning . . . in asocial milieu” and of autobiography’s deserving place in the curriculum. “Autobiography aswriting the self,” Graham says, is a way of “reflecting on and grounding the self in livedexperience,” and is therefore crucial to the reconceptualization of curriculum. (Graham 1991:120) Ann’s “autobiography” may not have been acknowledged in the curriculum, but it is stillher autobiography, and part of it- - her sexual relationship at age 12- - was banished frommemory.That Ann attributed her forgetting to her school experience is an intriguing contrast to herbroader view of whether and how schools influence. Students, she says, do not learn fromtextbooks, “they learn from what they see actually in real life or . . . experience in real life.”She says this despite her recognition that schools want to influence their students. When askedto explain how intent and result can go awry, Ann became less sure of her response.I really don’t know. I think a lot of times, simply because adults . . . don’t communicate.It’s not that they’re at fault or anything, it’s just they can’t help it. They justcommunicate in such a different way . . . teenagers completely seize upon and despiseanything that’s different. Most teenagers . . . . The problem with school is that it takesplace when you’re still very young, and . . . changing a lot . . . A teacher, no matter howfriendly they try to be, or honestly are, or how nice they are, they still have so muchpower over you, that you’re going to naturally resent them. (my emphasis)40Singularly among her co-participants, Ann introduces social relationships beyond school, andalso developmental psychology, in her effort to understand what influence schooling may havehad in her life.Power is vested in the authority of teachers, and students, in a natural reaction, mayperceive it as capricious and unwarranted. By her use of ‘natural,” Ann intimates inherentconflict between adults and non-adults. Power in Ann’s understanding is not merelyconstituted authority, but interaction between adult and non-adult. This suggests some aspectsof school influence cannot be altered because their presence, or non-presence, is embedded innatural psychological affinities and antagonisms. Few subjects provided so complex an analysisof their school experience. Most limited their observations to the infrequent or non-existentdiscussion of homosexuality in classrooms.So far in this discussion of invisibility from Ann’s position, there are substantial andsubstantive obstacles to schools meeting the intellectual (and perhaps psychological) needs ofstudents. The curriculum is experienced by Ann primarily as an adult intrusion. Somewherebetween what students receive in schools and what they require emotionally and intellectuallyis an adult standard. The intrusion is unwarranted, a significant articulation of adult powerin which control is the essential objective.Ann and Brent occupy similar analytical ground. Brent also notices compelled invisibilitybut differs from Ann in his matter-of-fact reaction to it. Given this response he might havebeen as easily counted among those who fit in with school discourse rather than those who cryout against it. However, Brent introduces a wrinkle to his analysis, despite a statement thatschools exist just to educate. He does not merely accept this as the only commission schoolsshould have, as a strictly functionalist outlook would lead him to conclude. He also says thatschool life confounds personal development. Personal identity is caricatured in school; it waitsinstead for a more “private,” post-high school era in which to flourish. Brent does not give hisanalysis of schools the political tinge Ann gives hers, but he sees well the adjustments studentsmake to school environments.41This need to adjust, even when it means moving away from more necessary adjustments, fitsin the definitional space for “influence” I laid out earlier. Schools induce responses, they affectmind or action, and Brent, 19, doesn’t miss any of this.BrentBrent, like most other subjects, does not recall homosexuality being an integral part of sexeducation courses. But in a sense he didn’t expect it to. He describes the school asnot a place to educate . . . on sexual terms, although in biology we learned how to haveheterosexual sex, how to prevent teenage pregnancy . . . . we were always making funof [homosexuality], more homophobia rather towards homosexuality [sic] in that no onetalked about it, none of the teachers . . . it was just something you laughed about andbugged people about . . . . I think the educational system is just there purely foreducation.Apparently education should not include discussions of sex, and yet did. Brent believes in thefunctional intent of education to impart information, and conceptualizes this in generallearning terms. His sense of what schools do is procedural, and his analysis of their influenceis based on whether these procedures have resulted in learning. Thus, whatever homophobicjoking occurred in school was separate from what schools intend and what teachers actuallystrive for.Furthermore, teachers’ ineffectiveness (and schools decreasing influence?) may be explainedby students’ resistance to, or disinterest in, the teachers’ efforts.It’s not fully the teacher’s fault. I think it’s probably more the kids’ fault than theteachers’ . . . there’s [only] so much they can do, but if a kid isn’t willing to listen to theteacher or whatever, then, you know, it brings [it] back to . . . parents and how he [sic]was brought up.Familial influence in this account supersedes school influence. And peer culture may beparamount over all.Brent never said explicitly that schools possess curricular or social intent. However, peer42groups do have a functionalist social purpose, and therefore they possess intent; and when theyare intransigent to learn, perhaps they possess an intent to obstruct teaching and learning. Thisis not tantamount to the cultural phalanx that Willis describes in Learning to labour (1977). Heconcludes some working class boys use a common social class identity to try to thwart theschool’s ‘designs’ on their future. There is no unifying and rallying culture in Brent’s peergroup, at least not as he understands it.Brent’s references to peer groups- - “it’s probably more the kids’ fault”- -suggest neither thatsexual understandings derive from school influence, nor that influence derives from schoolstructures. This is ironic, in that peer groups (and their sometime homophobia) wereestablished by organizing (and early on, segregating) school classes according to age and grade.In contrast to Ann, who refers to the political role of teachers and curriculum, Brent providesno political context for his perceptions. Yet his awareness of school culture is no less insightfulthan Ann’s.He expresses continuing surprise, for instance, at seeing former high school classmates ingay clubs. As he puts it, “it just blows my mind to see them there.” His surprise derives fromsexual censure in the school, such that lesbian and gay students are not merely isolated fromeach other, but don’t even know about each other. (This theme recurs in most of the interviewdata.)Choosing to make sexual identity visible decrees a heavy burden. Brent associates handlingthe burden with inner strength, and is skeptical the lesbians and gays he discovered in the clubscould have withstood the peer pressure. “I don’t think they would have had the inner strengthto stand up to the rest of the school.”In this telling, schools are not benign environments for people who do not fit in. They arenot just procedural environments that offer “education” on their narrow conceptual definition.But neither are they politicized environments that ordain some kinds of insight andinterpretation and not others.43[T]he social .. . aspects of high school . . . stop you from having that inner strength• . . . you always had to go to school a certain way, act a certain way, amongst yourfriends . . . . I think your independence . . . is when you really start to learn who youreally are and your identity . . . [but] not till after high school .. . I chose to find an identityafter high school, but a lot of my friends are still the same people they were in highschool . . . I had an identity in high school, but .. . it was not my own identity, it was sortof the identity of expectations- - of teachers, of fellow classmates and friends. (myemphasis)We have moved from Brent’s description of his school experience as modestly placid andnon-polarizing, to a description that reveals the need for concealment and camouflage. His sexeducation classes never touched on homosexuality. Neither he nor his friends had the “innerstrength” to challenge the “peer-tide,” and nothing in his school experience prepared him tochallenge or withstand the peer group. Identity development was postponed until his departurefrom high school, and the identity he lived during his high school years was not his. At nopoint in the interview, however, did Brent associate educational context with these experiences.The school in Brent’s understanding, then, is apparently not a matrix but an arena, inwhich, coincidentally, peer and academic forces vie. In contrast, a matrix-explanation woulddepict schools as members of socializing and indoctrinating networks, in which we presentlyfind anti-homosexual bias. Presenting the school as an arena only does not allow us tointerrogate conceptually how and why this bias develops in school systems, nor how anormalizing force can accomplish the integration.For Brent, sexual-identity invisibility is powerful enough to be felt as an outcome ofschooling, even if it is not seen as an intended one of school curricula. And school curriculainclude more than just the official curriculum authorized by the state; the hidden curriculum,while not always closely scrutinized by students, is nonetheless intrinsic to how schoolssocialize and therefore to the development of school discourse. Without formulating a politicalunderstanding of curricular- - and therefore school- - intentionality, it is hard to address practicesthat make people invisible.Brent’s mid-teen years were most satisfying during his solitary time, time when he didn’t44have to pretend with friends and conform to others’ demands. The search for solitude was notovert resistance to school discourse, but a marshalling of inner resources that were used aftergraduating from high school, when he realized he could nurture his own identity and be hisown person. However, the solitude was relished precisely because he realized the falseness ofhis in-school interactions with other students.Interaction in schools are not wholly determined by school policies, but they aresignificantly so-determined. For instance, students in open-classroom schools that allow peopleto roam from one class to another, and that permit students to work on common projects despitebeing in different grades, will interact differently, on the whole, with others in their schoolsthan will people whose schools assign them to different homerooms, stagger eating times, andclassify students according to their academic achievement.Brent’s thoughts may not justify placing him in another of the categories in this chapter,for example that addressing resistance to school discourse. But neither do they justify hislocation in a category emphasizing (neutral) procedures. (I include in the latter groupingpeople who may perceive unjust treatment of lesbians and gays in school practices, but whosubstantially think that schools do not exist to do more than what they are doing.)Before I address this category, however, one more participant needs to be mentioned.Whereas Ann explains adult-student struggles in school in political terms, and Brent sees someof what Ann sees but without the political contextualization, Barry detects the politics ofgender and sexuality in school, yet understatedly. “Gender” enables him to go beyond sexuality,and to speak of the school in its broader institutional impact. I do not include Barry with Annand Brent because he speaks of invisibility and sexual identity- - which he doesn’t- -but becausehe angrily reacts to his invisibility as an intellectually curious person. In fact, Barry’s senseof himself as a gay individual was complicated and uncertain. He did not want to be socategorized by anyone.45BarryAlthough Barry, 21, has much to say about schools, his understanding of them, especiallyin high school, developed in Catholic schools he attended in a small Albertan community. Hisexposure to sexuality in the formal curriculum was extremely limited. And what he learnedabout sex was circumscribed, he thought, by Catholicism.They didn’t tell us anything about homosexuality, they told us about . . . the biologicalorgans. . . what things function . . . . I think it was because of the Catholic school system• . . they had . . . conservative views on sex education.The conservatism Barry remembers extended as well to gender policies in schools. When heelaborated on how gender underlay policy, he spoke with some bitterness about being “pushedaround like cattle and not being understood as an individual.” His example was a choice he andother students were requested to make between two subject options. “In . . . grade 8 and grade9 we had Industrial Arts and Home Economics • . . . even [though] I checkmarked .. . HomeEconomics, I was forced to go into Industrial Arts.” Despite the appearance of subject choice,the school disallowed Barry’s selection. He was classified based on gender role expectations.Barry summarized his position by speaking from the school administration’s position: “You’rea boy so you’ll be carving wood and working with motors .. . . And you won’t learn how to cookmeals, sorry, that’s for women.”During the interview Barry vehemently objected to school as an institution. School policybased on general gender-role expectations ignited his anger, not school policy as an overtreaction to homosexuality. Barry’s sensitivity to the implications of gender was more “aroused”than was his sensitivity to anti-gay discourse. He was outraged that his expressly statedselection could be dismissed so easily. But Barry never discussed the possibility he may havebeen identified as homosexual by school administrators, and therefore placed in Industrial Artsto “clarify” his sexuality. (No other male students in his school had opted for Home Economics.)Barry vocalized unequivocal feelings about the school as an institution. “I hated school. I46hated school because I didn’t like the social institution totally, and I hated the classroomsetting.M Barry constantly felt out of place in school, but unlike some of the other lesbians andgays in this study, he contextualized his feeling intellectually, not sexually.I remember . . . in grade 9 I was in math class and I was just . . . looking into spacedaydreaming . . . and then my math instructor just sort of looked at me and remarked,“Barry, don’t veg out” . . . I don’t . . . think I was vegging out, I was actually thinking andthat’s . . . not recognized by educational institutions. Just . . . thinking is looked at asbeing idle and non-productive.Barry has ideas about how schools are structured and how they work. He might interpretschool influence as a cumulative and limiting effect on his intellectual interests and pursuits,but not as an explicit, normalizing lariat around his sexual identity.All three participants discussed so far recognize a cumulative set of school practices thatcan be reasonably considered as influence. Brent refers to a false identity continually playedout in school, Ann speaks of adult-imposed values, and Barry rages against a system notinterested in him as an individual but as a member of the genus “student.” What they felt,imagined, hoped for, and sexually desired, were at best irrelevant to school personnel, and atworst the bases for discrimination. Each subject’s response to and interpretation of invisibilityvaries from the others’, but each alludes to school as an influential setting.How homosexual youth adapt to the influence varies, but they must at least see it beforethey can devise strategies to deal with it. In the next category I discuss individuals whosubstantially accept the legitimacy of school operations and therefore feel less impelled todevise strategies. Yet even they are not uniformly favourable toward school policy andpractice, as they remember experiences that nag at them.(b) “Fitting in”: Living in a Procedurally (Neutral?) School: The Cases of Cohn, Michael,Andre, Sean, and JamesHowever great may be the tension between educational ideals and educational practices,47when the conflict is especially acute and the stakes particularly high, the politics of schooling- -socializing/indoctrinating the young- - require endorsement of the practical rather than theideal. Further, these politics reinforce in students normative expectations of structuredenvironments such as schools. Even if they chafe at the normative cords, they begin to thinkof schools as places where these politics should occur.Knowing this makes Barry, Brent, and Ann resent their invisibility, although not equally.To those who see in schools nothing but what is to be expected in a functionalist system, thesometimes bitter truth of politics in education leaves, less frequently, a sour taste in the mouth.Fitting in with school expectations and standards of behaviour may even conceal the conflict.However, concealment does not mean elimination of the intent to influence. It means thatmany socializing processes are masked and are therefore more difficult to unveil. Does thismasking inevitably lead to the conclusion that all school operations are therefore undisclosedand will always appear neutral? No, and indeed most participants in this section differentiatein their assessments of school administrators’ or employees’ decisions. And the subjects do notall, or always, react to these as neutral decisions. ‘What is masked, however, is the politicalbackdrop of school operations. The following discussion of Cohn’s interview on schoolinfluence clarifies the point.CohnTo bridge this section on procedural neutrality with the previous one on invisibility, I beginwith Cohn’s statement that homosexuality was never raised in any class he had participated in,and nobody, including him, broached the subject with teachers. However, Cohn did try lessopenly to introduce discussion of homosexuality to other students. This effort brought him intocontact with the broad curricular discourse of schools, and also with school influence.Cohn, 18, cites two memories from his high school years that he associated with schoolinfluence. One was of his effort to post a sign advertising a youth group for homosexuals ona wall in his school. The other was of a grade 11 teacher teaching about character traits and48genes. The teacher was commenting onwhat you inherit from your parents, and so he says, “Well, what do you like inpeople?” . . . a class filled with real idiots, you know, they’re just like, “Oh yeah . . .1 likebig breasts” . . . . And the teacher’s writing this on the board . . . . I mean that’s sexistright there . . . and then he says, “Well, what do you not like about people?” .. . [A studentsays] “I hate faggots” . . . [so] he writes faggots on the board . . . you don’t know howincredibly angry I got, and . . . frightened .. . . I would not have said something to himwhen he was writing it on the board. And I really, really wanted to say somethingto him afterwards. And I didn’t . . . that still bothers me He was very selectivewhat he put on the board. He didn’t write everything that a person was saying.Cohn’s expression of fear and anger is exemplary of what many lesbian and gay studentsexperience in school with teachers, counselors, administrators, and other students (Green 1991;Rofes 1989; Sears 1991, 1991a, 1987; Dressier 1985; Krysiak 1987; Price 1982; Hunter &Schaecher 1987). Cohn notes the discrepancy between his feelings and observances in the twohigh schools he attended (as do Ann, Trish, and Michael of the high schools they enrolled in).However, it is unclear whether Cohn would ascribe the behaviour he condemned to the specificculture of the school, the institutional culture of all schools, or the “stupid” behaviour of oneteacher.Cohn’s sense of the issue is localized. His criticism in the example above is of the teacher,not of the education system itself for possibly fostering, but certainly tolerating, the behaviourwhich so angered him.Tolerance for such behaviour, whether an inadvertent outgrowth of existing procedures ora result of school policy, fits well the functionalist discourses of schools. ‘Whatever the specificexperiences of students, their predominant impression must be that curricularly-sanctionedattitudes and values are entirely intrinsic to social cohesion. In such a milieu concepts thatcontradict this dictum are rarely advanced. Students would not readily detect, therefore, ideasthat ‘exonerate’ teachers’ behaviour but indict institutional practises. In such a milieu as well,students are more likely to direct their agitation against particular teachers, vice-principals,or principals, than to formulate a social critique of schooling. The thrust of analysis is centred49on the microscopic experience, not the macroscopic intent. Influence is perceived through ahaze of ‘molecular’ incidents and nuances and not through macroscopic awareness.Institutional purposes are obscured by personality idiosyncracies and conflicts.An environment that nourishes compliance at all costs also encourages superficiality.Students learn they should not challenge the status quo, and that candid disclosure of personal(and real”) experiences is both unacceptable and, for homosexuals, endangering.Most interviewees discuss their high school experiences in closely circumscribed terms.Almost all had no ongoing school allies, though many did have friends; the subjects had littledirect knowledge of other lesbians and gays, and what few anti-homosexual incidents theydescribed were not placed in a perspective of the ‘total school’- - the school as a social institution.The circumscription may derive from feeling subordinate, jeopardized, or ridiculed. In alocalized state of mind, what participants observe may also be described and analyzed “locally.”But the local, or micro-, level, in this instance may have a larger implication: experience mayseem singular, but it becomes significant as a benchmark of institutional behaviour when,although singular, it is not repudiated by the system. From this perspective, any clear incidentof anti-lesbian/gay behaviour may be a benchmark. And other school experiences notconnected to sexuality may nonetheless be linked to it as part of an overall network ofimposition. This is certainly Ann’s and Louise’s view (discussed later), even if they do notalways classify the imposition as a form of influence. However they classify it, the value oftheir ‘sight’ lies in their sensing of something else behind the singularity. Schooling discomfitsthem by its ulterior purposes. (The hidden curriculum may be thought of as a medium ofulteriority.)Cohn, however, is not so bothered. His disgust with his teacher suggests a belief schoolinfluence exists, but as a force in other students’ lives. Notice the language of his considerationof whether or not schools influence.Their major influence is . . trying to make sure the kids . . . follow the rules . . . theyhome in on a lot of things, you know, like lifestyle, and then they keep reinforcing it,50you know . . . ‘Don’t break the rules. Do this, do that, do this, do that” . . . . familyvalues, getting back to that sort of thing . . . Raise a family, work a 9-5 job, that kindof thing. There are a lot of teachers that force it on their students.There are no personal pronouns here, just a reference to kids. It was not necessarily for hisbenefit that Cohn wanted to tell the teacher of his anger after all, it was for other students’benefit.This passage does not signify Cohn’s unawareness of how schools attempt to influence.Rather, Cohn detaches himself from this experience as if he is not subject to it, as if schoolsdo not shape through negative and disqualifying messages what Foucault calls subjectivity.Indeed, Cohn believes sexual identity buffers the effect of school influence in his life. Afterhe ponders whether schools may be uninfluential despite their efforts, he replies,I guess when it sort of opposes a person’s own personal agenda or, you know, their ownpatterns . .. . all the . . . reinforcements that I got throughout school did nothing forme. I mean, I’m still a homosexual . . . I guess it depends on the person. There are a lotof people that have been convinced that you have to be heterosexual . . . and that’s theway you fit in. You’re part of the norm . . . But that doesn’t always work, it isn’t alwayseffective.Cohn has enough self-awareness to understand the stigmatizing implications of the episodewith the teacher. This explains why he wanted to reproach the teacher for not dispelling theclass’s stereotypes and to articulate a principle of inclusiveness. And Cohn is certainly awarethere’s a major emphasis on heterosexism, that “they just want people to fit in . . . to be part ofthe norm . .. [to] try to change our identity to fit the normal people.” But he ends by affirmingthe countering possibility of personal identity.Cohn is varyingly certain and uncertain about what schools are trying to achieve. He stateson one hand that schools do not have an agenda to influence, but that the circumstances ofschooling just end up that way. On the other hand Cohn associates school influence withsexual identity development, but with a twist. The identity may be resilient enough to offsetsome of the acculturating messages of the school environment. So schools do not generateidentity, but they must contend with it.51Does this jibe with Cohn’s anger with the teacher for writing “faggots” on the board? Yes,because not all homosexual identities are equally realized, understood, or accepted. I askedCohn if he thought it possible the teacher was trying to be impartial when he wrote the word.Cohn rejected this interpretation because the teacher did not use the word “faggots” to raise thelevel of understanding and empathy among the students in the class. He permitted it to standon its own and did not reproach some of the students who yelled out their agreement that beinga fag was a characteristic worth eliminating.Perhaps Cohn’s anger was fed by his assessment of his school as a fairly tolerant place.Students did not usually harass suspected lesbians or gays. While not a model of toleration, thisschool was a non-threatening environment as compared to the second high school he attended.By the time he attended the second high school Cohn had joined a gay youth group and wascommitted to spreading the word that it existed.To this end, he asked to put up a poster in the school, advertising the youth group and acontact number. He resented having to get permission to post the information, but tried toarrange a meeting with the most openminded counselor available. He was told by a secretarythat all the counselors were openminded, and that Cohn would have to discuss the matter withhis assigned counselor. Cohn described the experience: “He was pretty decent about it . . . . Iwent in there to generally say, ‘would you please put up the youth group poster9 One outof ten of your students has to be gay . .. . And even if it’s not that much . . . you should put itup’.” The counselor quickly glanced at the item and said he would bring it up at the nextcounselors’ meeting. Cohn assumes he did, but Cohn never saw the poster displayed in theschool.Cohn’s assumption the counselor would raise the issue with other counselors may have beennaive, although he never established the point by returning to the counselor to find out whatdiscussion had ensued. When Cohn began summarizing for me the meeting with the counselor,he described the man as “pretty decent.” Yet, as our discussion continued, Cohn’s annoyanceover the incident was evident.52His account echoes the comments of other participants to the extent that a political analysisof the cultural politics of school systems remains undeveloped. All subjects in this research areyoung (aged 17-22), and the development of a political theory takes time. However, politicaldiscourse emphasizing micro-, personality politics can also restrict the vocabulary and thescrutiny of political analysis. This restriction is present in Cohn’s account of his high schoolyears in three ways.First, to say that politics can be reduced to the effect of individual personalities, or that oneperson can be singularly influential, is to miss the point in a society governed by defined rolesin bureaucratic systems. This is not to say that personalities are meaningless or that personalidentities and values are irrelevant to how policies may be developed or implemented. I meanthat policies and politics of social institutions, especially those institutions under publicscrutiny such as education systems, are not critically guided by the idiosyncrasies of suchinstitutions’ personnel. For all the flexibility in the system, public education became a modernorganization when it was bureaucratically invented in the 19th century and became uniformlysubject to standards and practices from an administrative and political centre.Second, individuals may certainly have sufficient latitude to modify school board policyor make up policy where it is not already stipulated. Principals may exercise considerablecontrol over their schools, and may even be profoundly influential. But this generalizationrefers to local developments in individual schools, not to policy at an institutional level.Curriculum is not easily entirely abandoned or substantially altered at a classroom or schoollevel, in a system devoted to surveiling its personnel.Cohn may have realized the discretionary power of school officials, as is suggested by hisrequest for an openminded counselor. Or he may have sensed what Sears found after studyingschool faculties’ attitudes about homosexuality: that counselors are, comparatively speaking,more supportive of school programs for lesbians and gays than are teachers (Sears 1988). ButCohn occasionally misses the larger political tapestry that makes hanging a poster a politicaldeclaration, that places the issue beyond a simple matter of personal discretion and subjects it53to larger political and cultural forces.Cohn understands some aspects of school environments. He requests the counselor keep hisname confidential because of homophobia. Cohn had no knowledge of anti-gay incidents, butwas wary of the general school atmosphere. He knew students casually addressed themselvesas “fags.” And he noted how girls would say[o]h, yes, you’re my lesbian lover” .. . they come up and they hug each other and, youknow . . . they do it just to be really obnoxious . . . obviously it’s in public and they’rejust doing it to make a scene and to, you know, belittle it. I find it very harassinghow dare they . . . belittle?”Cohn assumes schools can be influential; why would he otherwise ask to displayinformation, and why become angry when a teacher fails to correct the class’s boorish responseto a discussion of homosexuality? Cohn acknowledges the concern about displaying possiblycontroversial information, but saysthere are so many [posters] up there . . . they’re trying to combat racism . .. . why can’tthey put up a number9 If a student had come up . . . with a poster that promoteddrugs, you know, things like that, I mean, it would obviously have to go throughadministration and probably get rejected. But . . . a poster for anti-prejudice, I mean,this is . . . one of their major things in the school.Because the school had already committed itself to other, similar projects of enlightenment, notto be similarly committed to homosexuals angers Cohn. Schooling instead punishes and isolatesgay youth from each other and from their friends.But Cohn does not see, deliberately obscured as it is in schools, the larger social context inwhich political messages become acceptable. The political discourses of the society remainundisclosed to him; political analysis, and the resistant action that might come from it, is leftto individual counselors, teachers, and others. School function conceals school intent.Our society does not encourage sustained inquiry into why political analysis is limited, and54thus limiting. Schools readily deter this kind of inquiry, whether conceptual or empirical.Curtis (1988), for example, shows how school structures give the appearance of democraticopenness but are in fact non-democratic agents of the state. School boards are a good example.While ostensibly representative of the public, they are in fact creatures of government,constituted by law and obliged in the final analysis to obey government directives rather thantheir constituents’.Given this political milieu, Cohn understandably detects distinctions and inconsistenciesin a curriculum, but cannot see what to do about them. Indeed, he accepts the administration’sright to reject pro-drug posters. What mystifies and frustrates Cohn is the exclusion ofhomosexuals from an anti-prejudice campaign. He does not realize the campaign is not generic-- itis not opposed to all prejudice, including, therefore, prejudice against homosexuals- -but theoutcome of specific political pressures pertinent to particular political agendas that not onlytolerate but perhaps actively incite and utilize prejudice.Third, like others in this study, Cohn thinks school personnel should help all students, andthat his effort to do something constructive for gays and lesbians should have been endorsedby the school’s governing authority. This is the liberal-humanist faith that echoes throughmany of the interviewees’ ideas. But social systems often mask their real intent, even allegedlyliberal-humanist ones. Therefore Cohn neither identifies nor challenges the logic and structurethat legitimatize school authorities’ right to control people’s lives based on sexuality, gender,or anything else.He reacts instead to the specifics of the curriculum, for instance the absence of referencesto homosexuality. However, curriculum in a masked context does not appear as policy.Therefore function and control equate, to use Cohn’s observation, with following rules. Thisis compatible with social demands for conformity, and for exclusion that facilitatesconformity.School discourse is not developed unilaterally and free of outside influence. Prevalentsocial concepts and functionalist concepts of schooling are mutually insinuating. Social55attitudes and practices intrude on school policies, and all convey to students ideas of genderand sexuality. Cohn glimpses the intrusion but does not yet perceive various possibilities ofresistance. He also notices the procedures of incursion and knows they are not neutral, but hisopposition is to the kinds of rules these procedures support, not to the schools’ mandate tofoster rules. In this respect Cohn tacitly accepts the most fundamental justification ofschooling, and consequently the efforts of schools to influence.Michael is also aware of school stricture and the curriculum underlying it, but contrary toCohn’s view, Michael expects schools to influence students through both official and hiddencurricula. But in Michael’s case it’s as if the effort to influence can be separated from how thisis done, for he is surprised that school curricula outline models of behaviour and thought thatstudents are expected to take on. Michael can see the strategy and agenda in the desire toinfluence, but not the political imperative that drives it and requires students be told whatmodels of thought and behaviour to adopt. Michael’s observation that schools do not askstudents what models they prefer sits alone as an astute but forlorn commentary.Michael: Sex Without SexualityMichael, 21, is an American who experienced schooling in a small midwest-Americanhometown. He described the sex education curriculum as “very, very, very little”- -precisely oneclass in a school year. The only allusion to homosexuals stressed how they caused AIDS. Otherthan this, sex education focused on drugs and human reproduction, but not on reproduction assexuality.Does this curriculum suggest the school did not want to influence students’ sexual interests,expectations, and behaviour, or that its influence was minimal? One might argue that,contrasted to the clearly-communicated message of drug education, sex education that excludesdiscussion of sexuality indicates no interest in or effort by schools to influence in this matter.This would not, however, be Michelle Fine’s view (Fine 1988). She writes that school sexcurricula emphasize fear of disease, abnormality, and sexual desire itself. To omit sexuality56from a curriculum supposed to study it deprives students of outlets to explore the meanings oftheir sexual lives.This is what the participants object to. Schools create a falsehood that may constrictstudents’ respect for teachers and other school professionals, and persuade them that schoolsare not where important learning takes place. More than this, some of the interviewees learnedthey had to conceal themselves from the very people who defined their professional raisond’ëtre as the nurturing of future generations. This was a source of frustration, anger, anddespair.Michael offered no particular conclusion about influence when alluding to sex education,but more precisely referred to it when he summarized the general goals of schooling: “[Schools]were trying to influence who you were, but they wanted it to be in their model, not your own.”(my emphasis) Michael’s use of “but” intimates he expected schools either to be influential orto try to be influential. His response is different than most subjects’ to this extent: heanticipated, even if not blatantly, that schools had a hidden agenda. He senses influence asintent, as something detectable in what he thinks will be forthcoming, but not as aninstitutional set of interests and indoctrinatory prescriptions. What Michael did not anticipatewas influence that would try to counter or undermine the directions, or personal models,toward which the students were already leaning. Instead the schools he attended emphasized“their model,” not his. Schools do influence, he says, but their personnel don’t realize howinfluential they can be.I don’t think they know how influential they are . . . . look at the rebellion that goes onschools try to be parents, you know’ They give you all this parental advicebut they’re not influential in the right ways, like they don’t teach . . . like wheredoes this guy get off, the health teacher [the man who claimed gays give people AIDS],where does he get off saying that’ somebody needs to stop this guy and say . . . “thisis what you should be teaching, is [sic] that homosexuality is a norm.” . . . . you know,I was very prejudiced against homosexuals when I moved to Vancouver . . . because Ithought, “they’re a bunch of freaks.”57Implicit in Michael’s statements are assumptions of parenting and schooling. Michael hints thatthe right kind of parenting and schooling, and therefore of influence- -effective and authentic-- isthat which enables individuals to pursue their own goals. Whereas others might search fordefinitional signs of influence in outcomes or effects, as do Cohn, and Andre and Sean (bothof whom are discussed later), Michael locates definitional signals in intent, as does Louise (whois also dealt with later). But his response to these signals is ambiguous.Consider that his strongest outcry and feelings of anger stem from the comments of hishealth teacher. Michael expects schools to portray life and people honestly, carefully, andcaringly. His expectation comes from assumptions shared also by Ann, who thinks educationshould not impose pre-determined values, and by Cohn, who thinks opposition to prejudice ofany sort would surely be what a humanistic and enlightening institution would be committedto. Michael’s health teacher violated Michael’s expectation, but Michael evaluates the scope ofthe betrayal by the variation between his self-knowledge as a gay person and the teacher’scomments about gay people. The latter become ‘official” knowledge because they are expressedin a context of curricular and teacher authority.School procedure and the hidden curriculum endow teachers’ authority and create animpression that teachers always know what they are talking about, and therefore should rarelybe questioned or challenged. This remains so even when personal experience such as Michael’scontradicts what is said in classrooms. The impression thus created underlies educationsystems’ warrant to teachers. This warrant to teach is an important part of teachers’professional aura. Moreover, procedural influence and the hidden curriculum come intoconflict with what some students think are the real social practices and purposes of schools.The conflict brings the work of “influence” to light, for example on Michael’s reaction to hishealth teacher’s thoughts on homosexuality.Despite Michael’s self-knowledge and general self-acceptance, his exposure to other gays andlesbians was limited. This limited exposure formed a wedge of doubt that became for a time,self-contempt. After he moved to Vancouver and became connected to the larger gay culture58of the city, Michael reassessed his attitudes about homosexuals. “I mean[,] it was things thatI’d heard from . . . . the health teacher . . . . I knew that wasn’t true, but at the same time Ithought, “well, this guy got his information from somewhere . . . . somebody told him that.”Michael did not speculate when he was in school about where this teacher acquired hisinformation, or about who were the people conveying the information the teacher later adoptedas his own. School influence may be said to exist in this case, in that it displaced Michael’spersonal understanding of himself, and in his mind, of other lesbians and gays he hadpreviously met.The question is why was his self-knowledge displaceable? Was his self-awareness andacceptance less established than he initially suggested it was? Was he usually uncertain aboutother matters? Was it just youthfulness that eased the displacement- - the lack of experience andclarified identity that we associate with youthfulness?Psychological analyses are not the purpose of this study. Perhaps some people who arepsychologically susceptible to school discourse are more prone to detect curricular murmursabout homosexuality wafting through school corridors. The present study, however, is aboutschool influence as a discourse of power, and how people are ‘made’ susceptible.Michael offers us an example of someone wanting to believe that schooling has no ulteriorpractices and that schools as social institutions have no ulterior motives, despite having bothofficial and hidden curricula. He wanted to believe this at the same time as he saw that schoolshad a life-model for students that was an unjustified and hurtful imposition.In the title of this section on influence, “neutral” is bracketed purposely. All respondentsdiscussed here acknowledge school policies and procedures; they realize schools arebureaucracies. However, they do not unanimously see these procedures as neutral operations.James, Andre, and Sean, the other members of this grouping, do explain procedure as a formof neutrality. This takes the argument about influence deeper into the heavy concealment ofbureaucratic intent.I began my discussion of the interview material with Ann, who perceived in school59curriculum the constant use of power to change and direct students. Michael notices power inschools, but not as a medium of indoctrination. Now I move on to Andre, who identifies theobject of schooling as preparation for work; to Sean, who discerns in school practices the utilityof good teaching and general knowledge; and to James, who sees neutrality in both the dailyrhythms of school life and the lessons of school organization.AndreAndre, 21, is untroubled by the possibility of ulterior motives of educators. Schools haveclear purposes, legitimate in themselves. When asked if schools set out to teach about genderand sexuality, Andre responded with a functionalist description of schooling.No . . . they teach you how to become a person in the workforce . . . they try to prepareyou to go to . . . . university . . . . by the laws of the land (homosexuality is] still notcorrect, and so why would they even try to be, you know, different in school, why wouldthey want to?Andre is wrong about the legal status of homosexuality in Canada, but more interesting isthe logic of his statement. He says people may accept a school ban on discussion or teachingof illegal behaviour. However, he has no comment on what is an appropriate role for schools,such that not following the law justifies exclusion from the curriculum. This thinking reflectsthe logic of omission, under which homosexuality is not referred to, and thus underwrites theinvisibility referred to by Ann, Brent, and Cohn. There may be many students living “illicit”lives who might benefit from open discussion in classrooms of the very activities Andre saysare prohibited by law. A particular kind of discourse refuses to allow references tohomosexuality in classrooms, but Andre does not recognize schools as realms of discourse.In their functionalist offerings schools sanctify the logic of omission. As they teach andenforce normative behaviour, so do they endorse some behaviours and attitudes but not others.Functionalist theories often stress the interdependence of social roles and social values inestablishing social order (Durkheim 1966; Jary & Jary 1991). Structural-functionalist theories60depict societies as social systems whose institutions contribute vitally to social cohesion(Parsons 1964). As a normative social institution, the school enforces roles and valuesconsidered indispensable to social interdependence. Heterosexual roles and values aresignificant aspects of the school’s normative regime and of society’s interdependence. Sexeducation programs barely mention homosexuality, and if they do the references are frequentlynegative. Participants in this research reiterate their absence from the curriculum, experiencedas both academic subject matter and schools’ social environments. Demanding visibility,asserting presence, not only requires a changed discourse, but builds on it as well. Such change,I think, is helped through deconstructing the history of schooling. However, deconstructingor revealing the political (and sexual) interests of school organizations and curricula requirespoliticizing students and other groups involved in educating, through open political analysisof what and how schools teach.None of the participants offered this kind of political analysis. The politicization theyunderwent in school justified the school’s objectives and procedures. Andre accepts thisjustification and has no expectation of education beyond its functionalist, “credentialing”mandate. He did not tie his specific observations to microscopic school practices (face-to-faceinteractions among students, and between school personnel and students), but did pinpoint amacro-functionalism. “I can’t justify anyone’s behaviour, I just know . . .1 can see why thingshappen. Not that I agree with them,’ he says.Andre acknowledges the surface phenomena of school life, but is unsure whether to classifyhat he observes and senses as formal school policy. He would not, therefore, describe hisaccommodation to school demands as acquiescence. When contemplating how Andre fits inwith school procedures, this is an important distinction to remember. He simply is not agitatedby what he sees as the normal workings of school systems. Is this simple acknowledgement ofreality or acquiescence in all but name?I asked Andre whether gay and lesbian lives were portrayed at all in his school, and if soin what ways. He answered, ‘it wasn’t portrayed, period.” And he indicated nobody had asked61about the topic in any class. When I inquired why he thought nobody asked, he responded,“why would they’ no one’s gay . . . . You know what I mean why would you ask?is it important to you’ You know, are you gay if you ask?”From this passage one may conclude Andre does see some of the system’s influence, in thatpeople learn not to speak up in certain contexts. Such reticence is not true of schools alone, ofcourse, and is not true of schools as separate entities from other institutions in society. But forAndre to notice the reticence and still say that school prepares people for working life suggestseither that he knows how people can be manoeuvred into silence but doesn’t care, or he knowsbut accepts the prevailing practice because being a working person requires silence.At first I thought Andre was being ironic. Non-portrayal does not after all signify nonexistence, as James (mentioned below) might have concluded in similar circumstances, but adampening of discussion based on a fear of presumed admission of one’s own ‘deviant’ sexualidentity. However, when asked to consider whether schools deliberately try to influenceidentity, Andre indicated he had no idea: “I’ve never thought of it,” he said. The banishmentof a public discourse of homosexuality penetrates to such intellectual and emotional depths thatAndre, who recognizes the irony and the possible social danger in merely posing a question,does not interrogate the purposes of an institution that embraced him for more than a decade.Andre does not contextualize school influence as alienating- - a particular analysis mostevident in the section on resistance- -and thus is unsure, or at least exhibits the uncertainty bornof disqualification, of whether or not schools intend to influence their students.Andre and most other participants detect and object to the sometimes degrading facets oftheir schooling experiences. What they do not notice as readily is the political context ofeducation, and how the politics of any context endow some vocabularies and quench others.When students are subject to the politics of silencing, they are deprived of the opportunityto expand and enhance personal and social knowledge, and thus of the chance to initiate orsupport attitudinal and ideological change. (The deprivation is the core of Trish’s and Ann’scriticisms of schooling, and the basis of their resistance.) To be knowledgeable in this case62means naming one’s sexuality, acknowledging one’s identity, and using these understandingsto confront or confirm or qualify competing ideologies in school discourse.When Andre, a gay individual, fails to inquire about homosexuality in his classes to forcethe issue into the open, he reiterates the political act of silencing. When he turns to a non-gaycounselor to discuss his sexual relationship with another student because he believes she willsurely have the answers to his questions, as he did in his senior year of high school, hereiterates the political act of being silenced.Education as a form of intellectual development must include politicization. Education asa normalizing social institution necessarily masks how it politicizes. Even in “conventional”theory about education’s relationship to political democracy, politicization (although in theform of citizenship awareness) is deemed essential to a society’s intelligent and creative sociallife (Dewey 1954). Identity and sexuality are powerful components of intelligence andcreativity. When subjects discuss whether schools influence students and in what ways, theyremember the contrast between being told how they should fit into the social life of theirsociety and how they really did fit in. The functionalist imperative of the school clashed withtheir personal imperatives.* * * * *Sean’s comments on school resemble Andre’s. Whereas Andre conceptualized schooling interms of adult work, Sean conceptualizes schooling as good teaching. Both concepts fit afunctionalist purpose. A proceduralist understanding of the school accompanies a functionalistinterpretation of schooling. Sean articulates both.Sean: Influence as Effective, Relevant TeachingSean interprets school influence to be teaching methodology and useful knowledge for livingin the wider world.You have to bring interest in the class by going off the topic sometimes, discussingissues that are concerning the world, because that’s . . . something that when we get out63in the real world we’re going to have to face. A lot of things that we’re taught in schoolwe have never had to use when you get outside. I have never used . . . algebra andgeometry.Sean’s interpretation of influence indicates teaching effectiveness is the locus of schools’influence. And effectiveness is closely linked to what teachers inject into the curriculum aboutlife and the world. The way he speaks of it hints this is all that schools intend to teach about.Sean is not worried about the concealment of curricular effects- - although he does note them- -from which we might glean an understanding of the school’s institutional motives. What hesees is what he gets. And what he gets is all that he thinks he can reasonably expect to receive.Sean stresses the utility of general knowledge. But this knowledge vies with schoolknowledge, the latter considered a less real and perhaps less personal kind of knowing.However, because Sean thinks curricular relevance means useful public knowledge, he excludesits pertinence to a set of personal and therefore private directions or priorities. In schoolenvironments that politicize by encouraging passivity in students, general knowledge is mostapt because it rarely incorporates the more personal and politicized issues of students’ lives.General knowledge inhibits precise and critical analysis of schools, society, and the relationshipbetween the two.In such school environments as well, teachers are the immediate line of school-culturecontact, in whose classrooms the curriculum’s relevance is established. When school experienceis curricularly exceptional by not encouraging passivity, the exceptionality is usually becauseof a particular teacher. In Sean’s school background one teacher succeeded in communicatingsuch relevance.During the interview Sean referred repeatedly to the particularity of this teacher who wasalways happy to discuss world issues with his classes. Sean’s educational interest is in preciselythat which brings students’ knowledge of life beyond the school environment. In this respecthe is close to those already mentioned in this chapter, although he does not specifically alludeto the culture of schools. He expects an education to broaden and inform, and therefore toprepare. But he is also pessimistic about whether schools will broaden their students. When I64asked him if sex education introduced real-life issues, his answer was no, it was not veryrelevant.Sean did not ask if schools target their influence at identity or personal culture. Influenceis understandable to him as a utilitarian curriculum that will assist students’ future success,not as a socializing political regimen. Sean views curriculum as a medium of influence, not theinfluence itself. In this way he nullifies what for other participants is evidence of influence.They may look at the frequent absence of positive portrayals of homosexuality and concludecurriculum is both medium and substance- -both the means of persuasion or enforcement andthe specifics that are to be learned and obeyed. Sean on the other hand sees the means butomits the specifics, thereby nullifying the value of analyzing the hidden curriculum.Personal Idiosyncrasy Versus Institutional Intent: The Influence of the Hidden CurriculumThis study’s participants were not restricted in deciding what aspects of schoolingexperience might be influential. Nonetheless their answers often went no farther than officialbooks, teaching methods, and teachers’ behaviour. The compass of school experience was miredin daily routine. What was intended by schools was what subjects encountered in the schools’regular procedures. This limited scope of analysis is understandable; the hidden curriculumis not usually detected by those engrossed in it. However, the limitation hampers awareness ofschools as systemic social institutions. Consequently, individual teachers or counselors bear thebrunt of participants’ anger and criticism. Systemic and systematic socialization are seen asthe idiosyncratic actions of particular school personnel. Schools don’t have goals, but specificpeople do. This indicates how successfully schools have masked their socializing objectives.Among the Oxford Dictionary definitions was one dealing with exerted yet unseen action,gauged in the end through its effects. Masking interferes with our awareness of, and ourability to, identify school discourse and the action necessary to underpin it. But masking neednot have occurred in James’ case, for instance, because he assumes schools are neutral. Finallywe encounter the idea that schools are procedural and neutral.65JamesJames, 18, is an exceptional voice in the interviews because he does not see in his schoolexperience the curricular and social omissions detected by others. When asked whether heremembered any teacher who expressed positive or negative attitudes about homosexuality,James said “none that come to mind .. . [they were] neutral, neutral.” Absence is not, therefore,a political stance that discredits by excluding, as Trish (discussed below) or Ann allege, butinstead is a condition of neutrality and detachment. Neutrality leaves unchallenged theoutcome of the struggle for control of cultural symbols and values, as if such a struggle wereentirely inconsequential.Within and outside of schools, the struggle is not immaterial. Members of discredited groupsare not ‘permitted’ a vocabulary to analyze their social environments critically. James is amember of such a group, and lacks a political vocabulary to identify how absence may instigateand embody the repression of sexual culture. He is hampered in articulating even a conditionof non-existence rather than neutrality.James does not consider the simultaneity of school influence with the growingunderstanding of his sexuality. He is unique in the group in this view. The more commonresponse is uncertainty about the schools’ intent to influence, or whether they actuallyexperience such influence notwithstanding the schools’ efforts.* * * * * *Foucault speaks of social institutions as locations of sundry discourses, all in sometimes-shrill but always volatile and unequal contention. In especially small schools such as thoseBarry and Michael (discussed in the next section) attended, however, the contentiousness isalmost mute.Most schools do not have lesbian and gay social and support groups, and rarely invite totheir classes homosexuals who have set up local or regional institutions for gays and lesbians.But this does not mean homosexual students don’t want to hear positive messages. This is whythey occasionally try to chip away at the heterosexist armour of schools.66Cohn tried to put up a poster. Barry, uncertain as he was of grasping a gay identity, keptto himself his anger about schools and what they taught. Michael did not detect themultiplicity of school messages, but did want to nullify the one, anti-gay message thathomosexuals cause AIDS. How? By throwing open the curriculum to all ideas and values? No.He wanted homosexuality taught as a social norm.Schools are organized around the depiction and projection of a norm (Dreeben 1968). Theearliest terminology of the education system- - for example, calling pedagogical schools “NormalSchools”- - emphasized the regulatory and normative objectives of schooling. School days wereand are organized to socialize the young (Curtis 1988). The purposes of this socialization arewhat the participants do not usually detect. They do not consider that the very concept of a“norm” may be the problem, that to teach any value or behaviour as normative necessarilydiscredits, suppresses, and demeans other values and behaviours.Homosexuality is not taught as a norm because it is the imperative obverse of “normalcy.”Michael did not experience discrimination and ignorance in school because in his school peoplefailed to understand the usualness of homosexuality and therefore failed to stop the harassmenthe endured from other students. Michael experienced these circumstances because schoolsimplement the heterosexual ideology society authorizes. What might otherwise be viewed asa benign variation among people must be seen and experienced by students in a heterosexualworld as vile difference. Schools develop this understanding.The Oxford Dictionary definitions mentioned at the outset of this chapter spanned avariety of outcomes and inputs: immaterial things flowing inward, unseen actions butperceptible effects, and inspiration and inducements. But the range, apparently all-inclusive,does not do justice to the subtle adjustments lesbian and gay students must make in school. Sofar in this discussion of fitting in, for instance, I have said not understanding schools aspolitical institutions blocks an understanding of school policies. But there is anotherinterpretation, one I raise again in my concluding analysis of school influence: that notunderstanding is one way to avoid acknowledging circumstances that seem impossible to67change. The partial insight into school practices of Andre, Cohn, and Michael is a case inpoint. And even if this interpretation is not viable for all of them- -even if Andre and Sean,for example, believe the functionalist rhetoric of schools- - they all grapple with the questionof disclosure and its accompanying risks. Determining tactics and making choices in theseconditions take us beyond the Oxford definitions.Recognition of the entire socializing apparatus of the school is not an essential prerequisiteto changing it. What is prerequisite is understanding its political goals. This means alsounderstanding that socialization, preparing people only for the workplace, and encouragingteaching techniques to spark student interest, all contribute to the success of these politicalgoals. Most participants fall somewhere between limited insight into the agendas of schoolingand acute awareness of them. Only a few, however, are willing to resist practices theycondemn. Only a few go beyond “sniping” at school regimes, and enter into full-blown criticismof the official curriculum, a step that Trish and Louise take. As was true of the first twocategories of discussion, the next one on resistance does not include people who identify andfight against school procedures congruently. But I will begin with Trish, who most explicitlyof the three takes this discussion into the realm of resistance.(c) Resistance: The cases of Trish, Louise, and ZacharyWhat might a political critique of schooling entail? When discussing school influencemediated by formal curricula, few participants go beyond simply observing the omission or thedisparagement of homosexuality. Trish, 21, extends the discussion by politically analyzingnormative school influence.This kind of analysis does not preclude stating what others in this study say abouthomosexuality and curriculum. Trish is also angered by her ‘extinction’ in a curriculum(except for a peer counselling class) so uninterested in her it never refers to the real experiencesof real lesbians, but which nonetheless condemns her existence without knowing her.68We only learn about the heterosexual thing, there’s nothing mentioned abouthomosexuality, that it’s all right, that it does exist. That if you’re going to be this way,you’re going to be okay as well . . . . sex education . . . . only covered the heterosexualpart .. . which is very misleading and which really hurt, because I have a sexuality andI can’t put myself into a category, so therefore I will see myself as abnormal. That wasa very negative thing. A positive thing was a peer counselling class, where my teacherwould bring up the name “homosexual’ and that it should be accepted.In this passage Trish expresses thoughts and feelings similar to those stated by othersubjects. Like most of them, Trish is angry and disappointed at not having a category in whichto place her life and experience. The anger is driven by an educational expectation: that asystem purporting to educate cannot arbitrarily ‘disenfranchise’ some among its targetpopulation, that it is obligated to inform dispassionately, honestly, and to provide glimpses ofsocial life reminiscent of the lives students actually live. This echoes the liberal-humanistoutlook of schools of other respondents.Trish believes in the school as an authoritative institution, one that sanctions and shoulddo so. To her the exclusion of lesbian and gay lives is an unnecessary and punitive sanction.What is political about this view of institutions? At the core of Trish’s analysis is profounddisillusionment. She could not view disenfranchisement as negative if she did not expectformal education to categorize all experience, including sexual, in realistic terms.“[Homosexuality] . . . it’s sort of made invisible . . . it’s sort of saying, “this isn’t a reality,” bynot making it part of our education . . . . and therefore one might feel that they aren’t . . . rightschools do that deliberately.”When I asked Trish if it might not be strangely positive or beneficial to say nothing abouthomosexuality, rather than to provide the opportunity to express “put-downs” and negativestereotypes, she said it would not be a better choice to say nothing. Initial introductions toideas come from friends (who count as informal and possibly uninformed sources); concentrated attention to the topic is needed even if we risk negative expressions in classrooms.School influence in this case may be seen as the flowing in of immaterial things asmentioned in the Oxford dictionary. Schools don’t have control over all ideas and values in69students, but they can implant a kernel of an idea that may counter students’ present beliefsand act as a subversive thought, hoping for future change. But this was not Trish’s experience;for her school influence was not perceived as action working stealthily to change students(another Oxford criterion of “influence”), but as action to ignore homosexuality.Systematically ignoring something is not tantamount to an “action-void.” It signifies adeliberate closure of inquiry. Not to ask about something is in fact to know about it; it is toknow enough not to inquire. School influence thus instills prohibition without mentioning whatis prohibited. Identity is not merely ignored, it is denied.Trish travels into political analysis and resistance when she says schools engrave identityexplicitly and methodically.The things that schools teach that are really important and influential to teenagers arethings that will . . . relate to your identity, to your sexual identity, to your culturalidentity, and to your intellect . . . . if schools exclude other cultures, other culturalexperiences, it doesn’t speak to personal power . .. . if we are taught to only have onekind of intellect . . . and we have a different one, we feel . . . abnormal.Identity as expressed in this passage is all-embracing. In Trish’s view, schools may not onlydisparage sexual identities, but identity- - personal power and intellectual understanding- - itselfappears besieged. This theme is developed in the next chapter. Suffice to say that identity isimportant enough to Trish that she evaluates whether and how schools influence by theirtreatment of it, particularly of sexual identity.Trish speaks of negation here, not of simple omission. The negation is a betrayal of whatall students expect of their schooling. (Nevertheless, there remains the question of whetherpeople whose identities are especially dishonoured feel most keenly the negative bite of schoolinfluence. Homosexual youth endure conditions that are somewhat different than thoseheterosexual youth experience. While some heterosexual behaviour may be condemned- - such asbecoming pregnant out of wedlock- - heterosexual identity is not usually a categorical basis forschoolyard taunts or private beatings.) Trish does not merely describe school influence, she70indicts it. The indictment contextualizes her political argument. Schools do not merely ‘forget’to include in the curriculum what is most interesting and intrinsic to students; schools betraystudents’ most compelling and insistent thoughts. In all of our lives there are “moments” whensome questions are most aptly discussed just because we seem so dearly in need of addressingthem. The betrayal spoken of lies in the deliberate avoidance of these questions.This thing of normalcy, this is what looks normal, this is what normal sex is like, thisis what normal people believe in. There are such expectations, and . . . so many . . . failthese expectations and don’t feel normal and they don’t feel part of that school systemMost students reject the school system because it doesn’t speak about theirexperiences. Whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, it doesn’t speak openly abouttheir experience, they do not get questions asked about their own experience, whetherit is about sexuality or politics . . . Nothing is asked, nothing is answered, thereforebetween the school system and the student . . . there’s no real personal reality.Linda McNeil says authority to teach is “bestowed” on teachers by their students. Obviouslythis does not eliminate the state as a commanding force in school policy and practice. However,daily interaction between students and teachers involves negotiating how students will behavein class and whether they will listen respectfully to what teachers tell them. McNeil says that,as many teachers assume students are uninterested and therefore relax their efforts, so do manystudents often withhold authority from teachers. If teachers teach almost motionlessly andwithout conviction, students pretend to listen so long as their way through the system isfacilitated (McNeil 1988). Trish would agree with McNeil’s analysis.‘What Trish calls personal reality is also ground for ‘student- certification’ of teachers’authority. She assumes institutional and personal expectations must intersect. Where personalreality is discounted, a fundamental bond between student and teacher, youth and adult, maybe ruptured. (Trish understands “reality” as disclosure and exchange among teachers andstudents, of personal experiences and the meanings derived from them. The usual relationshipof schooling that she observes, however, establishes authoritarianism that subordinates studentsto teachers.) But the rupture need not stop at these relationships.Ethnic, sexual, and racial diversity in classrooms may opportunely lead to broader social71awareness in all students. However, when school practices limit candid discussion to a narrowband of representation within the wider diversity of the class, they foster previously existingdivisions among students or create new ones. Trish understands resistance as exposure andreversal of school conditions that make ruptures and divisions more likely. Discussion ofdiversity is therefore critical to resistance.Suppose .. . . for four years we’ll only talk about white heterosexual things. It is obviousthat two people are going to be left out, and with the homosexual person, a lot of thingsgo with that. Usually a teenager in high school . . . . is oppressed more than one ways[sic]. There might be a homosexual person who’s disabled, a homosexual person who’san immigrant child like I was, so you have a sort of double prejudice from peopleif the school system ignores this reality for these two people, and only talk aboutthe white heterosexual reality . . . they’re teaching all of the other eight people that thisis the only reality, and it actually turns them against these two people because they arenot included. (my emphasis)Discussions of associations of sexual identity and school influence requires anunderstanding that students do not constitute a bloc. Whatever school experiences bind themas peers, these experiences may not override pre-existing prejudices or withstand the derogatorymessages in school curricula. Trish perceives divisions that are at least reinforced, if notdeveloped, by schools. Her assumptions of essentialist identity based on skin colour, ethnicity,or sexuality, are debatable. But the value of her reasoning is in its awareness that studentsolidarity does not rest on a ‘student’ identity. That in fact, schools play a vital role in‘premising’ student identity. This is the nucleus of school influence and subjectivity. Trish’sideas take us beyond just noticing the effects of schooling, from which, according to theOxford definition, we may extrapolate action undertaken by school authorities or personnel.Influence helps set criteria by which different identities are approved and encouraged ordisapproved of and therefore discouraged. This is what I mean by ‘premising’ identities.Trish is not critical of formal education just because it influences. Indeed, she commendsthe power of influence to alter social attitudes. She wants schools to do more and to do better.She wants herself and other students to be influenced, but not in a way that presumptivelyidentifies and encloses people without giving them a chance to tell their life stories.”72School authority is partially constituted through teachers. Trish acknowledges the authorityin teachers’ power and also in what students assume teachers know. But students still resist.They may screen out most of what is learned in school, says Trish, but people listen attentivelyin school when questions of morality and values come in.People don’t remember anything about the war, you know. They might remembernames, but certain elements are remembered, and those are about sensitive issues thateverybody questions. . . . and under those sensitive issues, I think, homosexuality falls. (myemphasis)I emphasize Trish’s comment about questions because it reveals a faith in rationality andreasonableness repeatedly expressed in all the interviews except Barry’s. No matter whatcategory in the research I have placed the participants- - whether proceduralist, acquiescent, orresistant- - they assume school systems will respond reasonably once students’ needs are madeclear. Cohn “knows” the school should allow him to display his poster publicizing a gay/lesbianyouth group once its merit as an anti-discriminatory gesture is explained. Andre “knows” thatschools exist just to teach people, and will therefore do so well. Sean “knows” that teachers arehired to prepare students for life, and therefore this is what they actually do. Schools aresocial institutions that were rationally established, are rationally operated, and whose policiesare rarely capricious.Rejection of personal experience may instill in denounced or renounced individuals the ideathat the denunciation/renunciation is based on good, clear reasons. The participants believethat pre-conceived and ‘pre-perceived’ stereotypes, even condemning ones, can be dissolvedthrough rational, reasoned attention. Though not said expressly in this passage, what Trishsuggests is that people must first be sensitized to issues if they are not already so, to preparefor discussion of assumptions and values. (The assumption, I think, is questionable. Vilification is not necessarily based on any characteristic of those who are renounced. Reasoneddiscussion may not banish irrational hatred or fear. But none of this thinking underminesTrish’s reasoning about school influence and its potential.)73In the context of school sexual ideology, Trish has an ascribed category, not one sheembraces because of a resonant meeting of conceptual description and self-awareness. Thisdesire to see oneself writ large, to be granted one’s part of a broader set of understandings, isa recurring theme in this research, and an ironic one at that.Unconsidered, for instance, is the possibility that categorization is precisely the problemwhen the categories become supposed axioms of fundamental human differences. Can wecategorize identity, behaviour, or anything, without excluding others? If not, it follows thatthese gay and lesbian voices endorse the very logic that excludes them. (Endorsement, however,does not imply lack of school influence. Exclusion is experienced by the participants as a formof influence.)Trish, however, is unequivocal on this issue; absence from a curriculum is the result ofdeliberate action, and therefore counts as influence through omission. Among all participantsin the research, Trish is almost alone in applying the concept of omission to other groups. Herexample is racism.[J]ust like we only have white people’s literature in English classes, we only learn whitepeople who have invented things, white politics, and we only learn about the white,white, white . . . we don’t learn about other sexualities or gay issues . . . So because .students have never been confronted with the subject of homosexuality, they have onlybeen exposed to bad things and . . . heard a little bit about people who were bad becausethey were homosexuals . . . young people don’t even have the opportunity to think aboutthe subject in a positive way.Exclusion has political ramifications. So does inclusion. School influence may lead to both.A double injunction operates here, as both prohibition and compulsion. Students learn whatto do and what not to do. But Trish also believes exposure alters perception and that curricularchange will change attitudes. Young people can be persuaded to change negative assumptionsif given a chance.This isn’t radical resistance. Its agenda does not call out for abolition of schools or theremoval of offending school personnel. But it is resistance nonetheless to pre-emptive74categorizing of students based on false assumptions about identity and students’ experiences.Schools do not live up to what Trish thinks is one of schools’ most prominent tasks- -enlightening students and giving them a chance to explore the meanings of their own life-histories.A thread running through Trish’s comments is her assumption that we can know ourselves,and that schools discourage students from raising probing questions about their own and others’lives. Louise offers a similar observation, but her analytical stance bears more suspicion ofschool authority. She claims not to know what influence is or if she was influenced by schoolexperience. Yet her claim is framed in a series of remembrances about school, and in thesememories are inducements and effects of school environments.Resistance in Louise’s case is more personal and inward. She tries to hold the definitionalpower of school at bay. Not for her a specific category assigned by school discourse, whethergeneral or sexual. Identity to Louise signifies ever-present danger because others may use itfor their own, usually discriminatory, purposes.LouiseLouise might agree with Trish that we can know ourselves, but that schools try to thwart theawareness, if she could be sure of what school influence is. As Louise sees it, all experience isrelative and needs comparison to give it texture, delineation, and contrast. She initiallydisavowed the possibility of knowing the type and degree of school influence. But this did notprevent her from explaining what a school environment is like.[School is] very superficial and alienating and it’s almost like a mini-society of thesociety we live in now, which is hugely alienating and superficial. So it made me feelmore like an ant and it made me feel a little bit less focused than perhaps I would havebeen if I’d grown up and lived in a process of being with less people . . . morecommunity and less big school.In this passage Louise skirts the borders of political contextualization. She can’t tell if schools75are influential but she can classify them as alienating and superficial. Louise notes schoolpractices but does not explicitly name them as “political” operations. She does not stipulate thepolitics of alienation and therefore doesn’t see the politics of school influence.Why wouldn’t alienation and superficiality be understood as influence? Why wouldn’tfeeling oneself to be an ant count as a possible example of influence? Louise does not say sherecognizes schools as cauldrons of influence, but that these phenomena do not indicate theinfluence she knows to be there. Instead she states she is unable to connect her behaviour,attitudes, and feelings while in school with what schools may have intended. Louise attributesher sense of diminished station (being an ant) to the size of the school and not to institutionalcurriculum, discourse, or culture.This is considerably ironic, given that Louise spoke of Michel Foucault’s work on power.She alludes to teachers who are given unjustified power over students, and to her own strongfeelings of powerlessness. “Most of my life I’ve been the oppressed and I don’t like it.” Yet shealso refers to Foucault’s idea that both the oppressor and the oppressed have power played outthrough their interactions.Is this an expression of ambivalence about schooling? If the oppressed are as implicated inthe game of schooling as the oppressors, is it possible to ascertain influence? How do weidentify the intentions and outcomes of a dialectic? Louise vacillates between seeing theinfluence- -associating schooling and self-knowledge, for example- -and disclaiming anyassociation given the absence of a comparison with another, potentially influential institution.In her words, “I’ve spent most of my life in school, so it’s hard to look at it objectively.”What Louise means by objective analysis is hard to determine. She assumes there issomething else substantively and qualitatively different than school, from which she candecipher school more clearly.Louise does not speak openly about resistance, but she hints at a relationship of collusionbetween students and the school when she discusses giving or withholding power from teachers.This relationship hints at possible disruption by students at the very least if teachers renege76on their bargain with students. Disruption in these circumstances is resistance. Louise’sattitude about teachers suggests she too might be collusive under certain conditions, but onesthat predicate respect in teaching activities.[Teachers] have more power than I do and I think that’s a waste of time unless they’regoing to play some very good games . . . the teacher . . . I was impressed by wasentertaining, and so I didn’t mind giving him the power that he had, because in a wayhe gave it up . . . . he taught what we wanted to know.So Louise plays the game with an entertaining teacher who infuses the curriculum withquestions students think are pertinent. The teacher may always have preponderant power, butLouise can accommodate this if some of her expectations are dealt with.Nevertheless, after all her uncertainty about whether schools influence students, Louiseclearly attributes some influence to school, distinct from other influences. “I think it’s beeninfluential in that . . . I have respect for the crowd, that I’m willing to go with the flow . . . . Idon’t think I would have if I’d had a less superficial experience.” (my emphasis)Surprisingly, from a person who speaks of being oppressed all her life there is no dominanttone of loss or anger at her willingness to obey and respect the crowd. More intriguing isLouise’s attribution of going with the flow to the very superficiality she condemns.To Louise superficiality is an effect rather than a condition. She never fully explains itsmeaning, but her immediate references after speaking of superficiality are of how much shelearned from the non-superficial humorous teacher, and of how the superficiality of her schoolmade her feel small.However, it is Louise’s characterization of schools as superficial environments that suggestsinfluence is a condition as well as an effect, despite her emphasis of it as a consequence. Andin its conditional frame of reference it counts as curricular inducement.Does superficiality make student resignation easier, both as a political choice and as aspecific code to follow? Does superficiality propel people into conformity? A clue to herunderstanding lies in her statement that schools have “obviously had such a huge effect .. . it’s77like . . . you’re standing in the middle of a crowd and you say, “well, what would it be like ifyou were outside the crowd?” I don’t know, because I’m not outside the crowd.”The crowd- -of peers, primarily- -is a context of compelled association. School influencesupposedly forces Louise into superficiality. But given the critical eye she casts on schools andsociety I doubt her analytical power is impaired. What is conveyed here is Louise’s awarenessof her own conformity induced by school culture. Her uncertainty about school influence- -firmly sure of it at some points, claiming to be unable to compare it to anything else at otherpoints-- may be less evidence of indecision than of her unwillingness to enter into full-blownresistance.The one individual in this study who “resists” through educating is Zachary. I use quotationmarks because resisting school authority and ideology is not precisely what Zachary does. Hesees the need to change social attitudes about homosexuality, but his school experience waspositive, even after he publicly revealed his sexual identity. Personal background gave him noreason to condemn school discourse. Nevertheless, I include him in this section because whenhe decided change was necessary and pushed for it with several other people, he could notknow absolutely how school authorities would respond.Zachary: The ExceptionZachary, 20, grew up in a medium-sized city in Ontario. He had attended eight high schoolsbefore graduating. He could not recall the word “homosexual” being mentioned in any sexeducation discussion. Like the other participants Zachary had good reason to oppose acurriculum that banished him from consideration. He had good reason to conceptualizeeducation in terms of haves and have-nots, in terms of a socializing agent of the statecommitted to heterosexist norms.While Zachary does not refer to norms by name, his comments reveal considerations similarto Michael’s. Zachary wants people to have ‘real knowledge of, you know . . . homosexualityor AIDS or drugs or, you know, different issues that are coming up. That would be the next78step, to actually educate people now. Not just be accepting, but actually educate.”Zachary considers whether schools influence by inquiring into how well schools enlightenstudents about lesbians and gays. In his eighth school, which he attended in his senior year,he declared his homosexuality. The general reaction was positive.He helped start a city-wide gay-youth organization and was asked by counselors andteachers from different high schools to address their students on the issue. In his own schoolnon-gay students supported his efforts, offered him protection should he need it, and when asmall coterie of students harassed another student presumed to be gay, the administrationresponded positively on behalf of the maligned individual, although reluctantly at first.Zachary’s assessment of the intent and outcome of school influence, therefore, was tied tohow the school dealt with non-heterosexual sexuality. When asked if he thought schoolsdeliberately try to influence students’ identity, Zachary replied: “I think in earlier years that’sthe way it was, but . . . with the advent of so many new things that are coming out in the ‘90sand in full force, I think that people are just being forced to be more openminded.”He suggests the larger social environment has superseded not only school influence itself,but the need for such influence. In earlier years, Zachary says, before society had to grapplewith AIDS or drugs or other social ills needing a remedy, a deliberate effort to influence wasevident and maybe necessary. But that methodical influence has been displaced by “newthings,” by which I assume Zachary means more accepting ideas about behaviour and valuesthat before had been condemned. As was the case with the other gay and lesbian youth in thisstudy, Zachary does not consider the institutional structure that imbues influential intent withforce and will. If he were to do so, he would have to address how a changing worldfundamentally alters or undermines the school’s institutional mandate to socialize.* * * * *Most people live mundane lives permeated by routine. Schools add significantly to theroutine. A regular daily cadence gives students’ lives an aura of normalcy. Daily normalcy anda normative school ideology convince the subjects their lives are indistinguishable from those79of their peers. They, too, aspire to achieve goals. They also want to be liked and appreciated,and to be listened to and respected. They also become depressed and discouraged, as do their“compatriots.” They believe the differences between them and their peers can, and should, beseen benignly. And as they experience the regularity of the school day with its interactionswith teachers and other students, they expect schools to teach carefully, honestly, and withintegrity. In such circumstances it is difficult to see the school as a social institution with apolitical/socializing agenda. This, combined with a functionalist discourse that sedatespolitical awareness among students, leads subjects’ analysis of schools away from institutionalgoals and purposes. Zachary’s analysis, built somewhat around school experience that wasuniquely positive, is also apolitical, but somewhat differently than the analysis offered byother participants. His activism and his school administration’s positive reaction explains whyhe lacks the others’ resentment of similar circumstances.Something else should be considered: a muffled possibility, a deep assumption but partiallyformulated, a hint rather than an explicit declaration. Zachary indicates the possibledisplacement of school discourses by personal and social experience, whereas for others in thisstudy personal knowledge was stymied by school discourse.Zachary’s resistance is not as hard as that of Trish and Louise, but he takes his liberal-humanist expectation that schools should educate the entire person one step beyond justarticulating the problem and outlining possible responses. Zachary projected himself onto the‘scene’ in his school and in the city he lived in. His reaction is consistent with liberal-humanistideals of educating for social change, and his experience tells him it worked. He thereforemight justifiably have said that school influence not only discredited homosexuals, but that itsdiscourse changed and it began to influence students “gay-positively.” After all, teachers andcounselors in his own school and in other schools called on him to speak about homosexuality.To be sure, they were a minority among school professionals, but together they formed aphalanx of difference. This reassured Zachary of the possibility in schools, and though henever used the word “functionalist,” he would likely dispute that a societal mandate to socialize80meant totalitarian foreclosure of all but a heterosexist regime.Zachary’s experience ‘bends’ and expands the definitions of “influence” in the OxfordDictionary. School was more than just an inflowing of immaterial things, or an environmentof aggregate socializing actions. Zachary’s experience made him optimistic. But Zachary’sexperience was also exceptional. No other participant had reason to think so affirmativelyabout school.2.4 Analyses(a) The ‘Other’ Normative Regime: Resistance in SchoolsNo participant specified her or his actions in school as resistance to school authority as such.But all of them vary in how they conceive of it.Developing and sustaining a feeling of authenticity and personal power was important toall the subjects. Louise had some of this feeling in school when the teacher responded well toher and other students’ curricular interests. However, Louise remains angry at having to abideby the imbalance of power, and reserves the right to resist, acquiesce, or accord authority toteachers.Her language shows how the power of formal school relationships may be altered. Whenspeaking of her favoured, humourous teacher, she says “I didn’t mind giving him the power thathe had.” This is not the language of impotence, a formal acknowledgement of what the teachercould take anyway. Rather, Louise asserts an active demand of the school through her teachers,notwithstanding her relative subordination to the power of the school. She has something towithhold and will do so if necessary. This suggests influence can be mutual, but only as astruggle for recognition. And it is a struggle that students often lose.The power to compel compliance rests with school authorities, but school authority, whichbrings us close to Foucault’s idea of contending discourses, derives from a student’s willingnessto comply. Louise perceives meaningful education as the outcome of negotiations between81teacher and student on what will be learned and methods of teaching. Although formallyconstituted apart from anything students may do, teachers’ authority must nonetheless be givenback to them by their students as a basis of teachers’ moral authority.Louise recognizes this when she comments that in one sense, the teacher gave up the powerhe had. This epitomizes the moral authority that can bind learners to those who, hopefully,will enlighten them. Teachers can surmount the formal, legalistic definition of office, andreplace it with a definition of exchange. In exchange for a realistic and honest discussion oftheir lives, students will reciprocate by contemplating and learning.Louise’s reading of Foucault helps her contextualize her life as a subjugated being. In herstatement that oppressor and oppressed are linked inextricably, that ‘both the oppressor andthe oppressed have power and they’re just sort of playing out the interactions as power,” Louiseperceives her right to withhold her personal benediction from teachers and schools. In themidst of feeling small or ant-like, Louise asserts a student’s entitlement.To resist in school means taking on not only the apparatus of the institution but also thosearound you who either fit in well, or who do not want to be reminded of their own conformityand its costs. To say as Louise does that she learned to be part of the crowd, indicatesacquiescence to practices she feels are deeply flawed and hurtful. When such practices polarizearound heterosexual identity and heterosexist assumptions about gender, the hurt penetratesmost deeply.People who fail to see their lives manifested in a curriculum may look for evidence ofschool influence- -and also for a possibility of resistance- -in the attitudes and behaviours oftheir peers rather than in their own life experiences. In such cases resistance may become aremote possibility, especially for homosexual students. In a form of double-exclusion, gay andlesbian students may turn away from educating their peers- - which is tantamount to selfexclusion- - because they are themselves excluded.Despite this, the gays and lesbians discussed here have retained their sense of self. Somehave viewed school influence as negligible. But they have also, at the very least, reacted to and82struggled with or against, the inertia of the school in order to dispel anti-homosexual feelings.In this manner have they qualified the definitions of “influence” introduced at the beginningof this chapter. To speak only of inducements and occasionally-noticeable effects overshadowshow these subjects have struggled and why they decided on their varying courses of action.They assume they can be influential, even though their own lives appear to some of them tocontradict this assumption.(b) Bureaucracy and Mentality in SchoolingThe subjects of this study need (as do all students, I think) a vocabulary that permits bothmicro- and macro-political analysis. Their detection of school practices is primarily on amicro-analytical level. This is the school’s real triumph. It is perceived to have only a limited,functionalist purpose- -enabling its students to eventually enter the workforce- - while it wieldsa deft political influence.Bruce Curtis’s thesis is that throughout its history, Canadian schools have deliberatelyfostered an understanding that became so deeply embedded in students they rarely consider,let alone challenge, prevailing norms of political and social life (Curtis 1989). He is notreferring to psychology here, although there were (and are) psychological effects of conformity.Instead he points to a range of concepts and related regulatory behaviours that ‘installed’ apublic profoundly deferential to authority.Deferential publics expect their schools to foster in children respect for authority.Fostering such attitudes and behaviours is consistent with functionalist objectives of schools,as is enforcing heterosexist norms.Virtually all subjects reacted in some manner to their schooling even as they rejectedexplicitly the idea of influence. Ann, like Barry, chafed under the controlling regime of schoolregulation. Sean, Brent, and Andre associated education more with the function or purpose ofschooling than with defined, ulterior intentions. Louise and Cohn spoke of alienation andphoneyness, and Michael of attitudinal and behavioural models that typified the school’s83intentions, not the students’.Most participants mentioned the discrepancy between their lives and how homosexuals’ liveswere presented to students. The absence of a presentation counted as a presentation ofomission, a de facto acceptance of whatever general assumptions and images students called tomind about lesbians and gays. Ann sharpened her understanding of school influence into ahard look at how schools trivialize and suppress investigation and awareness of homosexuality.Such awareness is an important aspect of general and self-knowledge.(Self-)knowledge has political connotations and repercussions. The more provocative thepersonal knowing, the more difficult it is to sustain when confronted by the politics of denial,absence, and ‘neutrality.’ Denial and absence would mean nothing to the participants if theseconditions did not give rise to confining circumstances.Foucault (1977) writes of truth as a network of rules governing what we can legitimatelyand reasonably assert as truth, and thus of what counts as knowledge. These rules subjugateor disqualify the truths and knowledges participants identify as central to their self-understanding.Schools sanction types of behaviour and modes of thinking by “licensing’ some knowledgesand disparaging others. This is how schooling instills expectations and impressions of what ismeant by “knowing,’ and how individuals come to know anything. As Foucault states,Education may well be .. . the instrument whereby every individual . . . can gain accessto any kind of discourse. But we well know that in its distribution, in what it permitsand . . . prevents, it follows the . . . battle-lines of social conflict. Every educationalsystem is a political means of maintaining or of modifying the appropriation ofdiscourse, with the knowledge and the powers it carries with it. (Foucault 1972: 227)From this regime comes a disciplinary consequence.Discipline, says Foucault, “makes’ individuals; it is the specific technique of a power thatregards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise.” (Foucault 1977: 170)That individuals are rendered instruments is most disturbing because it can make us complicit84in our own objectification, and barely or no longer able, to detect that we are complicit.(c) On Prohibition, Conscription, Resistance, and InfluenceA discussion of school influence must take cognizance of numerous fault lines of inquiry.The fault lines run along both institutional and individual school axes. This complicates theanalysis because the youths’ insights occasionally focus on institutional purposes, but mostfrequently on practices in particular schools. This is understandable, but it localizes subjects’perceptions, thus complicating the effort to differentiate between idiosyncratic schoolenvironments-- as in Zachary’s case, who experienced very strong support from students andadministration- -and individual school differences that collectively can be interpreted asinstitutionally significant.The pervasive culture of denial and repudiation of sexual identities- - crucibles of emotions,understandings, sensitivities, and aspirations- - is institutionally significant for gays andlesbians. When the people in this research react angrily to both the absence and presence ofreferences to homosexuality, they do so because both dimensions “misshape” who they are.Their sense of personal knowing may be inchoate, inarticulate, partially unrealized, and tosome degree unlived; but their voices resound with the anger of people who know themselves.And they perceive in the knowing not just haphazard absence, but methodical and deliberateexclusion or misrepresentation.There is more to this in the precise ways schools teach what is not to be questioned, evenwhen the prohibition is so vague as to be essentially unknown- - a distinct manifestation of thetruth that dare not speak its name. Cohn knew the prohibition but did not question orchallenge it. Ann realized it and resented how it became dispersed throughout her school life.Dispersal becomes possible through acceptance of, or acquiescence to, a broad curricularregime of comments, jokes, and silencings. In this study, most people indicate compliance withschool regimes. More interestingly, almost all of them do not actively work to thwart theregimes. Does this suggest internal resistance, general acquiescence, fatalism, or collusion? A85precise answer might involve a combination of some of these.School regimes display broad bands of discourse. Students contend with all of them bycolluding, resisting, or “going with the flow.” Giroux writes that resistance theories enable usto study how social class and culture set up cultural politics. He goes on to say that suchpolitics enable a “reading of the style, rituals, language, and systems of meaning that constitutethe cultural field of the oppressed. Through this process , it becomes possible to analyze whatcounter-hegemonic elements such cultural fields contain.’ (Giroux 1983: 101) The people citedin this chapter are not resistance theorists, and are largely unaware of society’s politicalantagonisms, and schools’ role in inhibiting, nullifying, delaying, or fostering them. Thesubjects turn their resistance inward when they do resist. They do not state in school theirobjections to school practices that inflame them. Except for Zachary they do not initiatecommon action on behalf of themselves and other homosexuals.Louise goes along with the crowd. Cohn does not pursue the reasons for not putting up aposter advertising a gay youth group. Michael finds he is acquiring negative impressions ofgay people in direct contradiction of his few personal experiences. Barry is angered by thenullification of his choice of home economics over industrial arts, but rails inwardly againstthe system and its personnel.Conspicuously lacking in many participants’ school lives is contact with others likethemselves, a contact that might (and after high school does) involve them in lesbian and gaycommunities. When schools prohibit establishment of youth groups, they also try to negate, orat least to forestall, homosexual awareness. A discourse of forestalling is a form of influencewhen the discourse inhibits or alters awareness.Learning not to utter genuinely inquisitive words about homosexuality (or about anythingimportant to students) is to learn as well the injunction to prevent similar inquisitiveness inothers. The silence has ramifications beyond individuals to systemic pervasiveness. Noinstitutions for homosexuals can flourish in such a realm unless one lives in a larger centrewhere, as in Zachary’s or Cohn’s case, a youth group exists or is forming. Important as they86are, these institutions are external to schools, do not embody widespread social values, and areunlikely to penetrate the ideological fields of schools. Schools’ sexual and gender influencethus reigns unchallenged.Awareness of prohibitions- -of what to inquire about and what to ignore- - was acquired bythe subjects without reference to homosexuality. The corollary of this silence is volubility.When the prohibition is not rebuked, its unstated, yet presumed, truth, circulates uncorrected.This is the deafening roar of exclusion and discreditation. One need never have a day in courtbecause the court is never convened.The gay and lesbian youth negotiated this double disenfranchisement- - through the silenceand volubility of prohibition- - as best they could in the absence of sustaining schoolenvironments and a suitable political vocabulary with which to criticize school practices andformulate a response. Although most did not openly challenge school practices they did becomeangry. Why?Complicity and ConscriptionFoucault’s idea of a discipline that makes people objects and instruments of power aptly fitshere. Any group of people, as objects of this power, may feel the lash of discreditation.However, the subjects react particularly to their ‘conscription’ as instruments of this power,although they do not interpret this as influence.Influence is ascertained by participants indirectly- - a facet of influence expressed in theOxford definitions- - through classroom experiences with teachers and schoolmates, andobservation of inconsistencies between school rhetoric and school practices. Theseinconsistencies represent school power as an objectifying force, a force that differentiates andsets up a foundation for discriminatory treatment. Cohn’s exasperation over the hanging ofa poster exposes and illustrates inconsistency.Schools combat racism because they are supposed to enlighten students. Thus, Cohn asks,what explains the school’s refusal to put up a poster? The refusal represents school power as87an instrumental force, the kind of force that implements a heterosexual, normalizing ideology,and encourages others to live by it and nourish it in others. This aspect of school discourse ismissed by Cohn and others. Hence their mystification and anger when schools don’t live upto expectations they will enlighten people and dissolve their prejudice.Does Complicity Lead to Resistance?How the participants react to this knowledge differs. But most do notice some kind ofeffect. Cohn knows a school official decided his poster would not be seen in the school. Barryknows someone with power in the school decided he would not enrol in home economics despitehis clearly stated preference for it. Andre knows that students remained silent abouthomosexuality even when it was opportune to raise the issue in class. Brent knows that identityportrayed in high school is often feigned, and that authentic identity is lived only aftergraduation. Would he have made the same claim were he not homosexual? Disparagedidentities are much harder to live openly, and lesbian and gay students may conclude based onthe disparagement of their identities, that all forms of identity are made false by school andpeers.Must resistance mean overt political action? Is school influence detectable in thedetermination among young homosexuals (or any students) to resist, and not necessarily in theparticular form(s) of resistance undertaken?I argue that in some respondents’ silence there was a kernel of resistant intent. Foucault(1972) writes of the pluralism of resistances. Silence that leads to determination to persist inone’s identity is part of this pluralism. Determination in this case means a commitment towithstand adversity rather than succumb to it. Although the question of whether schoolsinfluence students was not asked in terms of identity, the interviewees contextualized it thisway. That their analysis should fall along this line suggests the power of identity in their lives.Their occasional silence in school does not inevitably signify surrender to the school’s sexualdiscourse. Persistence can be a form of resistance.88I said earlier in the chapter that schools were understood more through immediate eventsor daily routines than through awareness of institutional goals and bureaucratic organization.This makes it harder to detect the deeper effects of school discourse. More than this, it misidentifies school symptoms as school structure. The subjects do not recognize that schoolpractices comprise the social purposes of schooling, and accordingly the effort to influence.Unified resistance is difficult to develop without a political analysis of schools as agenciesreproducing dominant social values.Trish and Ann come closer than most research subjects to such an analysis, but the greaterimpression is that the symptoms are the “disease.’ There is no genus beyond individualcharacteristics. School as an institution is concealed. To combat this cloaking, all students needa political and a personal epistemology.Without political education on the functions of social institutions, an understanding ofschool purposes- -and influence- -often is benign. These institutions exist solely to instruct, sayAndre and Cohn. But this conclusion obscures school intent, and in effect frees the educationsystem of having to explain itself to its “clients,” as Louise expects it to do when she says shegives authority back to the teacher in exchange for being taught respectfully and reasonably.To insist on conspicuous action as the sole or most significant criterion of resistance in suchcircumstances is unrealistic and unreasonable. In the subjects’ critical review of theirexperiences, and in their sense of strengthened identity (to be discussed in chapter 3), resistanceis evident.However, defending personal awareness is not necessarily equivalent to resisting thediscourse of schooling. Foucault offers a more systemic conception of resistance, saying that“where there is power, there is resistance . . . [which] is never in a position of exteriority topower.” (Foucault 1990: 95) By this account one is never outside of power; nobody can whollyescape its effects. The subject is as much a conveyor of power as its “victim.” Perhaps this isanother explanation of why Louise goes along with the student crowd.Foucault’s ideas may theoretically bring us together in a grotesque unity: we all suffer and89we all inflict suffering. But this unity does not differentiate among students in the ways theyexperience schooling. Although Foucaultian power is, theoretically, inscribed macroscopicallyand individually, its explanatory power is primarily panoramic, catching all of us in itsinstitutional scan. To say homosexual and non-homosexual students are united in the discursivesoup obscures how each group is differentiated from each other, and how homosexuals aretargeted precisely for being homosexual (Uribe & Harbeck 1991; Sears 1988, 1989, 1991;Dressler 1985).This is so despite Foucault’s view that education systems have contradictory mandates toacculturate and to enlighten. The subjects were trapped by this contradiction, though neitherpolarity wholly precludes the other. Homosexual students are additionally trapped by thecontradiction between private sexual realities and public assumptions about these realities- - andtherefore by what issues and ideas can be broached in classrooms. In such contradictions thesexual ideology of schooling is not easily detectable and confronted.* * * * *Through this chapter I have referred mainly to the official curriculum of schools becausemany of the memories recounted are of ‘encounters” with official policy and in-class activity.To leave the discussion at this level, however, would mean leaving unattended an importantpart of how schools try to influence. Not all occurrences in schools are results of decisions ofschool officials. But educators know of the hidden curriculum, of how structured situationsmay produce changes in attitudes, values, ambitions, and general behaviour.In Grande Prairie, Alberta, a junior high school will experiment for two years with sexsegregated classes in math and science. The experiment is based on the supposition that allfemale classes in these subjects will produce higher marks and subject-interest, moreappreciation of their social value, and perhaps will spark ambitions among females to pursuecareers as mathematicians and scientists. But the experiment holds together conceptually onlyif a hidden curriculum exists. Success in these subjects among junior high school femalesinvolves more than questions of pedagogical approach and selection of teachers, but also relies90on the dynamics of all4emale classes to kindle and sustain interest in these subjects.School influence must be understood, then, as more than specific school policies orstatements of school intent. The concept of a hidden curriculum speaks to the collectiveinfluence of schools to induce, produce, and conduce specific understandings and behaviours.This fits well with Foucault’s analysis of power and institutional discourse, and the criteria setout in the Oxford dictionary.This question of gender and academic performance echoes in the ideas of Robert Connell,who says sexual politics make some practices predominant and others marginal. For Foucaultand Connell social institutions propel and channel some attitudes and behaviours rather thanothers. Connell’s analysis of gender expands beyond enforcement of particular sexualideologies, which is not to say he considers this less significant as an influencing mechanism.Connell encompasses heterosexuality in a broader context: a hegemonic gender regime (Connell1987).‘Gender’ means practice organized in terms of, or in relation to, the reproductivedivision of people into male and female . .. . Gender .. . is a process rather than a thing.Our language . . . invites us to reify. But it is . . . about the making of . . . links .organizing social life in a particular way. (p. 140)The organization of social life Connell mentions is systematically attempted in schools.Homosexual youth must constantly cope with what Adrienne Rich calls compulsoryheterosexuality.Compulsory heterosexuality prevails in school curricula as it does throughout society, saysRich (1983). Far from asserting itself naturally, heterosexuality acquires an aura ofinevitability based on enforcement of alleged norms and on the banishment of candid andhonest discourses of sexuality.Human experience does not grant one interpretation of masculinity and femininity only.But the gender regime of our culture contracts the spectrum of possibility to a one-dimensionalconcept of each. Creating an imperative of heterosexual masculinity, writes Connell, requiresthat homosexual males be identified, demeaned, and persecuted, because these men signify the91greatest affront to the definition of masculinity. As gender is defined narrowly, so are thediverse lives people live depicted narrowly. But to more fully articulate the politics of gender,Connell elaborates the idea of cathexis.‘Cathexis” refers to the production and maintenance of difference through social hegemony.It presupposes gender differences, and therefore authorizes their creation. Both desire andprohibition, for example, are social patterns, but prohibition has no meaning withoutsimultaneously creating acceptable desires, through which (supposedly generic) desire isexpressed. Specific actions (such as homosexual behaviours) may be banned, but the more basicintent is to destroy the relationships that contextualize them. School influence for Connellwould consist of any approach to effect the destruction.Establishing difference as a basis of discrimination requires as well the “closeting” of thosewhose differences were to be discriminated against. Participants constantly faced the barriersof the “closet’ as an epistemological medium, from which they offer associations of schoolexperience and school influence. The closet signifies more than attitude, more than a simplegender-affection choice. It is the suppressed nub of personal understanding.The school as closet substantiates for the lesbian and gay students the disqualification theyfeel from experiences garnered outside the school. School influence as objectifying andinstrumental force is assisted by the confining silence of the ‘closet.’ Though their personalcircumstances differ, all interviewees keenly know the censure of this influence.As Eve Sedgwick states in Epistemology of the Closet,in the vicinity of the closet even what counts as a speech act is problematized on aperfectly routine basis. As Foucault says: “there is no binary division to be madebetween what one says and what one does not say; we must try to determine thedifferent ways of not saying such things . . . . There is not one but many silences, andthey are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses.” . .“Closetedness” itself is a performance initiated as such by the speech act of a silence -not a particular silence, but a silence that accrues particularity by fits and starts, inrelation to the discourse that surrounds and differentially constitutes it. (Sedgwick 1990:3)92However they interpret their invisibility in curriculum and classroom discussion, theparticipants still note the accrual of silence. They feel their silence.However, the issue of silence involves more than just a question about how to remainconcealed. They do not simply sense they are different; they possess identity, personalexperience, and knowledge, all of which delineate understanding that contradicts blatant andcovert messages of school curricula.The subjects are caught in a grip of multiply-silencing discourse. They must not appear tosupport other gays and lesbians because they too may be so identified. The threat of disclosureby association is for many homosexual students sufficiently intimidating to prevent mutualdiscovery. The fear is so deep it obstructs self-knowledge. This de facto complicity ensuressilence. But this silence also “vocalizes” the self-authorization of compulsory heterosexuality(Rich 1983). Silence that vocalizes and authorizes the very conditions that give rise to thesilence itself often demands ‘performance’ from those silenced. They must retain personalperspective even as their behaviour helps their discreditation. This is what Ann means whenshe says open discussion of homosexuality might lead to blatant, in-class belittling of lesbiansand gays, but could also, or instead, facilitate more accurate and thus improved, attitudes aboutand behaviour towards lesbians and gays.Dare Schools Build a New Social Order?Having teachers and school personnel improve attitudes in the manner suggested by Ann,however, reduces the importance of sexuality and identity as intertwined concepts. This mayhave significant repercussions in that politics of subordination operate through ‘braiding’ theconcepts. If the goal is only to ameliorate dispositions toward homosexuality, sexuality becomesno more than a matter of opinion or attitude. Sexuality as a premise for organizing andpolarizing personal and social values, public discourses, and state policies, is obscured byconcentrating solely on dispositions and not deeper cultural practices.Indignation arises when the subjects sense schools do not intend to organize and teach93differently. The participants’ epistemological castings- - what they know, how they know, andwhy they believe they know something, are all repudiated. Lacey says epistemology may beunderstood as an “enquiry into the nature and ground of experience, belief and knowledge.‘What can we know, and how do we know it?” (Lacey 1986: 63) The epistemological discourseof the school’s closet not only eliminates from consideration the “what” and the “how,” but alsothe very possibility that lesbian and gay students could know anything about themselves or lifethat their peers might find interesting and insightful. These students are thus renderedinvisible and opaque at the same time, firstly because they supposedly don’t exist, and secondlybecause they do exist and are visible, but impenetrably and inscrutably!Subjectivity and School InfluenceWendy Holiway (1984: 231) writes of subjectivity that is more than “the sum total ofpositions occupied in discourses by a person.” Subjects take up positions that discourses makeavailable. Referring to gender, Hollway says that categories of “man” and “woman” mayacquire meanings in any given social period, but particular men and women take on thesediscursive cloaks. Although I refer periodically to Foucault’s work on subjectivity, it isimportant to note that his non-differentiation of groups and individuals prevents us fromseeing how power nudges people into assuming, and how people propel themselves toward,various discursive positions.Hargreaves, writing about the power and influence of schools, does not do so from Hollway’sposition but he does look at schools’ sociological role as he criticizes Marxist determinism(Hargreaves 1982). Hargreaves says the merit of reproduction and resistance theories asdiscussed by Apple and Giroux are dubiously argued because the latter are not empirical andtherefore fail to account for evidence challenging what counts as resistance and what outcomesit leads to. Hargreaves continues on to say that, to reverse an imbalance, we should considerschools as “more determined than determining” (p. 123).I do not intend to debate the fine points of Hargreaves’ position; it is sufficient to say I94appreciate his statement that what he calls the “old” correspondence theory of Bowles andGintis, and the “new” theory of Giroux and Apple, are overly determined and not well argued.I appreciate as well his comment that the later theoretical position comes more from itsadvocates not wanting to be politically disappointed by having their political agenda madesuperfluous, than it does from the powerful and clear logic of the their analysis. However,beyond the realm of those who casually converse about resistance theory, there is a vastuniverse of non-challenged functionalist dogma. Ideology, like beauty, may be in the eye ofthe beholder, but I perceive functionalist ideology as dominant, at least among the nonacademic, “lay” public. And these are the people who constitute the mass of public opinion whoneed convincing before they will support broad educational change.Schools, contrary to what Hargreaves suggests, may indeed be more determining thandetermined. We may credit schools with more power to effect change (personal and social) thanis realistically borne out, but society and the operational motives, practices, and purposes ofschooling are connected by cultural objectives. Whether intended to change people or entrenchsocial values and practices, curriculum and policy developers assume schools can influencethought and behaviour, something Hargreaves himself points out. The extent to which theobjectives are attained depends on how closely aligned they are with students’ experience, therewards promised for complying with them, and the punishments for violating them. Rewardsand punishments make up part of what I consider schools’ attempts to influence.Significantly, some participants indicate the diminishing possibility of school influencewhen it contradicts students’ personal meanings. This suggests students demand morepersuasiveness than is immediately evident in the curriculum. To present a position may notbe enough to move students toward different conclusions than were previously held.This is an important question for those in this study who want to educate their peers abouthomosexuality. Reversing or dissolving prejudice is a complex task, but their visibility is aconstant rebuke to misinforming and disinforming sexual and gender discourses. The disparitybetween what they know and what they see and hear, convinces some participants to suspect95the sexual values advanced by teachers, communicated in sex education classes, and enforcedthrough school policies. The subjects do not so precisely conceptualize their responses, but intheir suspicions about what they were taught, in the anger that follows understanding of theteachings, and in their frustration at having no opportunity to dispel what they believe aremyths about homosexuals, they react to anti-homosexual assertions taught in school. Theyassert, if only to themselves, their identity.What is described in the previous paragraph sounds bleak, but schools are not uniformlyoppressive. There are, after all, gay and lesbian teachers, support staff, administrators(although most remain invisible to students and employers), and of course, friends of gay andlesbian students. Despite the openness of some of these people, however, many of theinterviewees experience school as a “totality.”* * * * *If we conceive power as a process rather than a series of punitive or retaliatory measuresinconsistently applied, we see how ubiquitous such regulatory force may seem. To paraphraseJudith Butler (1990), power is not just a permanently inverted power relation between thesubject and the other. Power emerges through a concept of gender that inscribes all behaviour,inclinations, and desires.The “closet” as an image may be a bit limiting here, because it intimates escape is possible.But its pervasiveness draws the boundary of the closet so vastly it may cause its inhabitants todespair, at least momentarily, of surpassing it. Those not definitionally enclosed within thecloset have a vested interest in it, if only because they define themselves against it.Even in an environment that appears omnipresent, however, we can see challenging rifts.Most participants in their high school years retained self-awareness as different people, whichthey understood in sexual-identity terms. School influence quelled expression of thisdifference, and also open resistance to the curriculum (although not to school authority). Butit did not dissolve identity.The topic of this chapter- -school influence- - perplexed the research subjects. They often96commented that the issue raised an unusual yet serious question; in almost every interview theysaid they had not thought to ask themselves about their school years from the standpoint ofinfluence. Once their minds were stoked by our discussion, however, ideas came to mind andmemories were reconsidered and sometimes reclassified.As I stated at the beginning of the chapter, influence is more easily grasped abstractly thanit is strictly delineated concretely. This accounts for the participants’ frequent thinking-out-loud during the interviews as they considered what may have been influential in their ownexperience.The discussions on identity were a contrast, however. This was not so because “identity” iseasily defined and easily located in specific experience, but because identity seemed more solidground for the participants. Even as they grappled with explanations of what it is, they feltmore secure saying they had an identity or its equivalent. Indeed, the participants came to theresearch as self-identified lesbians and gays. (This is so even of Barry, who, for all hissuspicion about having any identity but ‘human,’ still volunteered to be interviewed afterseeing my advertisement asking homosexual people to participate in the study.)Being self-possessed gave subjects a foundation on which to build their anger, theirpsychological resolve to question school sexual discourse, and to more openly resist schoolpractices. Not all of them understood themselves equally well or had equal levels ofconfidence. They did not all uniformly oppose or resist school practices. Variations ofexperience, and therefore of self-knowledge, left them looking at the world sometimes similarlyand other times divergently. However, for all of them it may be said that school experiencesignificantly strengthened their identities and the tenacity to live them. This is the irony ofschooling. Discrediting students’ cultures and values does not invariably dispel self-awareness.But there are questions left to discuss. What do the respondents think identity is? If theyresisted blatantly what they heard and saw in school, do they now associate their resistancewith identity development? Do they think schools sought to influence their identities, and ifso, were the schools at all successful?97Everyone interviewed framed the question of whether schools are influential in sexualidentity terms. Would they do the same as they thought of identity and school experience? Dothey associate their tenacity with the strength of their identities? These questions bring me tothe next chapter on identity.98Chapter 3IdentityIdentity can be simultaneously a battle cry of personal affirmation and a premise ofdifference. How we affirm our own identities and differentiate ourselves from others,however, involves a careful balance of complicated social/group and private identities. Wemay like to think these are compatible or at least mutually reinforcing, but social and personalidentity can infringe on one another in at least two ways.First, what is important to personal development may conflict with the requirements of asocial identity. Learning to live as a homosexual and get along openly with others, for example,can mean accommodating oneself to derogatory joking about gays or lesbians and to discussionsof the causes of homosexuality. I am not saying personal development should occur this way,but that it can in places lacking institutions or organizations for lesbians and gays. Underthese circumstances personal development may conflict with the demand of a gay liberationagenda- -and therefore of ‘membership’ in a (homo-)social identity- - to confront the derogatorystereotyping in jokes and explanations of the origin of sexual identity.Second, although we may adopt a social identity for ourselves, it is also to some degreeimposed on us by others. Sexual identity magnifies the intricacy of infringement because itcan refer to both personal and social identity. Who we are may also be thought through as whatwe are. And what we are sexually is not removed from society’s perceptions and definitions.In this study identity is considered in its social dimensions, not its psychological ones.However, most participants experienced the ‘identity-quest” individually, without benefit ofhelp from other lesbians and gays and without general support from social institutions99developed by, and devoted to, lesbians and gays.2None of the foregoing, of course, precludes other analytical lines. Identity has beenvariously understood as ego development, individuation, self-consciousness, and rational humanagency (Humm 1990; Taylor 1985). It is a concept even more difficult to explain all-inclusivelythan is “influence.” How do we gauge the expansion of selfhood, for example? Yet egodevelopment, self-consciousness, and human agency refer to knowledge of oneself, such thatwe note the harmony of behaviour and self-awareness.Some explanations of identity are psychological while others stress the relationship ofreflexivity and a sense of self, such as Taylor does in his discussion of human agency. Asimportant as agency and self-awareness are to the research participants and thus to the analysisin this chapter, however, I think Cindy Patton’s work offers more analytical value.Patton (1993) contextualizes her writing on identity in the political struggle in the UnitedStates over what “identity” means in a postmodern world, how identity will be sociallyrecognized, and over what kind(s) of resistance can/should come from a newly-conceivedunderstanding of identity.2 Analysis of the merit of a wide range of concepts ofidentity is beyond this chapter’s scope. However, I shall referbriefly to several theoretical schools whose ideas on identity mayprovide bases of future investigation.Among proponents of cognitive development models, forinstance, Piaget is often mentioned. He argues people move throughsix stages of development, gradually becoming capable ofabstracting their world and conceptualizing their place in it. Inthis model, awareness and explanation of identity changes as onedevelops intellectually.Erikson also suggests a stage model of development integral tointeraction with significant others. Erikson’s stages proceedthrough eight categories, in each of which we find “competitions,”for example between trust and mistrust in the earliest stage, andbetween identity and role confusion in adolescence.Bandura articulates a social learning concept of development,recognizing as well the cognitive learning that comes from socialobservation. Vygostsky discusses the value of psychological tools,or signs, in mastering one’s own behaviour. These signs are vitalto understanding our thinking, both as “working through” ideas andas its product. (Cram 1992)100The subjects of this study found it hard enough to define and establish identity withoutconsidering its postmodern implications. Their struggle to clarify and to “dramatize” theiridentities occasionally may have left them thinking identity was more a definitional miragethan the substance of character and idiosyncrasy. But for all that they still cherished itspersonal meanings. Postmodern ideas challenging the very concept of an identity, or thedistinctiveness of any identity, dim the respondents’ struggles and goals. Their determinationto “become” their identity was evident, although “identity” itself was a conceptual riddle forthem as they tried to pin down definitionally a seemingly amorphous topic.Nonetheless, Patton’s ideas on what she calls “postidentitarian” politics help my analysisbecause they suggest a chaotic understanding of identity, as both definition and livedexperience, accounts more reasonably and accurately for the turmoil or flux we reallyexperience as we search for, formulate, or create identity. Patton’s discussion about what apostmodern outlook on identity might look like contrasts with the liberal-humanist outlookexpressed by the participants in this study.The question now before us, she says, is whether, in the postmodern state, people can feelrooted through identity. This is not a central question of this research, but I do come close toa postmodern understanding of identity in my valuing more the chaotic workings of identityclarification than the fulfilling of an adopted or socially-assigned identity.To give Patton her due, she extends her argument beyond what I have discussed so far.‘When she writes that “identities suture those who take them up to specific moral duties.Identities carry with them a requirement to act, which is felt as “what a person like me does”,”(p. 147) she addresses an important theme of this present research, one I shall return to veryshortly. However, Patton raises another and provocative idea: “[i]dentity is an issue ofdeontology, not ontology; it is a duty of ethics, not of being.” (p. 148)Her postmodern search for identity that eternally roams but never rests on a specificontological perch is intellectually tantalizing, but this thesis is not about what identity is. Itis about how identity is understood by a specific group of homosexual people. They search for101the reverse of what Patton considers possible. They want ontology, perhaps because their senseof self, place, and knowing are suppressed all around them. Deontology is ‘nice” if we have anidea of what ontology- - the world view we use to make sense of ourselves- - we are divestingourselves of. Who they are is vitally important to the participants, who think identity must beclearly sutured to personal practice. This is especially evident in Cohn’s, Trish’s, and Louise’sstatements.Discussion of this research has so far looked at schools as social institutions directed bysociety to socialize the young. In what we think are societies with stable politics and socialorder, social identities are assumed to be known. What remains for schools to do is to makestudents aware of these identities and force students to adopt them. Schooling in a postmodernworld, however, if dedicated to the value of constant experiment and invention, would findit harder to enforce codes of conduct based on fixed notions of identity. Schools are not sodedicated, however. The previous chapter dealt with school influence in a culture that eitherpresumes durable and predictable moral and social codes, or wants to have such codes.What do the participants think about identity in the midst of these conflicting moral andsocial politics? They were asked, firstly, to explain “identity,” and secondly, to considerwhether schools influenced their understanding or expression of it. Shining through mostinterviews is the linkage of sexuality and identity. Identity apart from its sexual aspect wasimportant to the subjects, but it gained much greater significance when conceived sexually.I said in chapter 2 that “influence” is easier understood abstractly than concretely, thatexplaining it through generalities is easier than making precise connections. The opposite mayhold for understanding identity. What we say and do in daily life is supposed to be thesubstance of who we are. Sometimes, though, the apparent smoothness of this identity-dailylife integration belies a more troubled state. The concept lying in the dew of daily life isharder to summarize than the specific acts, thoughts, and beliefs it represents. Researchparticipants were stymied by the difficulty. However, this did not prevent them fromconsidering the importance of identity in their lives. Respondents’ answers throughout the102interviews hinged on their sense of identity.The previous chapter addressed an issue important to this thesis: are schools influential?If the subjects had said “no” chapter three would be inconsequential. Given that they saidschools are somewhat influential at least, it may be reasonably asked whether schools influenceidentity- -particularly sexual identity, and to what extent and in what ways? With one or twoexceptions most participants perceived school influence through a discourse of sexual identity,which reintroduces Foucault’s idea of power in social institutions and the shaping ofsubjectivity. Power in this understanding is not haphazard. While it is not always consistentlyexerted or congruently experienced, power is always present.3.1 What is Identity?However theorized, identity is the hub of our cultural universe. We discuss it, demandopportunities to live it, and despair when we think we have lost it or its conspicuous presencein daily life. Asking participants whether they associate schooling with opportunity to exploreidentity or with the despair of living it, placed them squarely on the hub. Delving into theirinterview data on identity before inquiring how “identity” may be understood, however, wouldbe premature.Jeffrey Weeks says “identity is about belonging, about what you have in common with somepeople and what differentiates you from others . . . [identity] gives you a sense of personallocation . . . it is also about your social relationships.” (Weeks 1991: 184) Weeks continues thisline in his summary of Barry Adam’s ideas on the matter: affinity, self-actualization, andchoice are necessary features of identity, in its formation and as a lived exhibition (Weeks1991).He extends his explanation of self-actualization to sexuality when he refers to identity as“a statement about belonging and about a specific stance in relationship to the dominant sexualcodes . . . . say[ing] in effect that how we see ourselves sexually is more important than class,103or racial, or professional loyalties. (Weeks 1991b: 68)The subjects of the present research varied in how strongly they saw sexual identity as theirquintessential attribute. However, they firmly valued their sexuality, however much itcomplicated their lives and exposed them to ridicule and physical harassment. Every personI interviewed participated as a self-named lesbian or gay individual. Whether the namingtranspired before high school entrance or after, everyone understood him/herself as selfrespectingly lesbian, gay, or bisexual.In another of his works, Weeks (1986) refers to sex both as an act and as a category of theindividual. Sex is generic, he says, as in gender, but it also has specific reference points insocial and individual practices that give meaning to, and are given meaning by, socialrelationships. Participants’ intense responses to questions of/about identity had the genericcharacter to which Weeks referred.Their intensity is explainable if we return to the need for harmony of behaviour and actionmentioned above. The category of who we are is solidified when we recognize ourselves in ourbehaviour. As will be see from the data, anger and dismay arise when the participants detectdisjunctures in their lives. Ian Hacking (1990) provides a useful commentary on thesedisjunctures although his topic is how we “make up people,” not whether they feel upset whenthey cannot live their lives openly.Hacking wants to know how acts beget categories of persons. He asks how deviant actsbeget deviant individuals, but the question is part of a larger inquiry about social control andthe merits of nominalist and realist debates about constructionism and essentialism. Myinterest in Hacking’s work does not rest on the outcome of this inquiry but on his discussionof a “medico-forensic-political” language of control that frames humans’ past, future, andpresent experience. Who and what we are converge within particular social frames ofreference, but these frames develop simultaneously with the origin of the category. The personis “made up” at the same time as the category is first proclaimed, and from then on both theperson and the category evolve.104One need only look at a medical designation- - “alzheimer,” for instance- - to see how thisworks. People who in pre-alzheimer times may have been deemed ‘senile” but not necessarilyin need of institutionalization, are in modern times seen sympathetically but also in need ofconstant care. Moreover, there are no senile people anymore. Everyone suffering dementia inold age will be classified as an alzheimer victim. This difference in classification is notbenign. “Alzheimer” carries an expectation of violence in some patients, which means allsufferers are suspect because it is not known in advance who may become angry and “riotous.”And forgetfulness that at one time may have benignly signified simply that, in this erasignifies personal humiliation and inevitable decline.The alzheimer example is mine, but Hacking’s point is that all categories come with theirown space of possibilities. Establishing a category, therefore, also establishes what seemspossible, likely, desirable, and what is allowable. Hacking quotes Sartre:a contemporary of Duns Scotus is ignorant of the use of the automobile or theaeroplane. . . . For the one who has no relation of any kind to these objects and thetechniques that refer to them, there is a kind of absolute, unthinkable, andundecipherable nothingness. (p. 75)My interest in Hacking’s article comes from the kind of hegemony that constitutes suchnothingness.The central question of this chapter asks if schools played any role in subjects’ (sexual-)identity understanding and development. The question cannot be answered withoutconsidering hegemony.Julia and David Jary explain hegemony as “the ideological/cultural domination of one classby another, achieved by engineering consensus through controlling the content of culturalforms and major institutions.” (Jary & Jary 1991: 207) Across North America battles rage overwhat reading materials students in elementary and high schools will be allowed to read anddiscuss. These conflicts are not only about cultural symbols but also about what ideas, values,and philosophies are acceptable. My appearance before a local school board in Grande Prairie105did not go for naught because my recommendation for a sexually inclusive curriculum wasconsidered benign. The board rejected my proposal almost simultaneously with my presentationof it because they found it too challenging of common school practices or policies.The school is a social institution designed primarily to socialize the young, and entrenchinghegemonic thought and practice requires a systematic effort evident in socialization. Thechapter on influence looked at one branch of this discussion of hegemony, and this chapterventures out onto another branch. But the central question of this chapter cannot be answered,as well, without thinking about sexuality and identity specifically and generically. This meansthinking about hegemony not only at an abstract level but also at a level most people canreadily comprehend. At this level, for example, we should ask what kinds of socialrelationships schools encourage or discourage. It was at this level that most participants feltthemselves, at best, ignored, and at worst, openly devalued. Social relationships, after all, helpus “fashion” personal identities.Such is suggested by Weeks’s reference to the unification of act and category. But Weeksdoes not mean by this allusion an absolute, unavoidable unity. Rather, he introduces apolitical concept: that our social and personal identities have social and political implications.This is Patton’s point as well even if she wrote her article with a different purpose in mind.In this light everyone is subject to social control devices, of which schools are one.(Hetero)sexual discourse is important to the school’s mandate as a social institution toinculcate societal values. Integral to this mission are particular concepts of sexuality,gender/sexual identity, and the relationships that may follow from them. Schools become bothconduits and contexts of culture, and as such they judge which identities are acceptable or not.Judith Butler says “the cultural matrix through which gender identity has become intelligiblerequires that certain kinds of “identities” cannot “exist” (Butler 1990: 17). Of course identitiesdo exist, but heterosexual hegemony requires that some identities must not exist viably,credibly, reasonably, articulately, or assertively. This is what rendering identity non-existentmeans. Heterosexist school practices teach that non-heterosexual identities and behaviour are106abnormal and indicate stunted emotional development. (Interviewees picked up on thismessage- -their references appear later in the chapter- -and strongly resented it.) At a time intheir lives when people struggle to understand and secure identity, exposure to this kind ofmessage profoundly complicates if not obstructs, self-awareness and the connecting with othersassociated with it. To degrade homosexuality, as most school curricula do, is to mutehomosexuals’ identity and their social relationships.The danger is not always overt. By “muting’- -a corollary of deliberate, silencing politics--Imean the calculated and systematic closing down of positive discussion and exposure ofhomosexuality. Gays and lesbians as social beings become unnoticeable to school personnel, totheir friends and peer groups, and frequently to each other.Such politics were unmistakable when I appeared before the school board to ask for aninclusive, open, and anti-homophobic high school curriculum. I was told by the superintendentthere were no lesbian or gay students in his system. (But this same superintendent expressedsupport for a sex education group advocating celibacy before marriage. The group, applyingfor permission to teach in schools, was given permission so long as it was not political in theclassroom. Apparently, advocacy of rejuvenated virginity, and celibacy, is not in itself apolitical declaration.)Participants often expressed amazement and anger that their lives were so easily anduncaringly dismissed in school. They indignantly said their sense of fair play and theirexpectation of being treated respectfully were violated in school. In the continuing debate overwhat constitutes a gay identity and in what historical period this identity became noticeable(which is not relevant to this study), writers maintain a distinction between homosexualbehaviour and homosexual identity, between homosexual activity and the homosexual personas a social definition (Escoffier 1985). The subjects in this study strive to express themselvesas social beings. Their identities, whether described in terms of self-knowledge or categorizedas “identity,” are the crux of their self-definitions as social beings. Most had seen the schoolas the one location above all others where they could anticipate fair debate, educational107disclosure, and sensitive respect for the psychological well-being of all students.Unpunished and unsanctioned visibility of gays and lesbians is crucial in their social selfdefinition. What gay and lesbian students should never have to give to the schools is a‘promise’ to abandon what they are and to surrender what they are becoming.The interviews resound with the fervour of individuals who develop, and hold tenaciouslyto, their identities. With one exception they proudly refer to their growing self-awareness orto the strength they get from identity already formulated. This thesis asks if homosexuals’understanding and development of identity, particularly an unapproved sexual identity, wereinfluenced by their experiences in a specific social institution- - the school. For many peopleschools are important locations of social experience. They spend a great deal of time, after all,with peers, and with adults who in the beginning are usually strangers. In this thesis I inquireif the participants do remember school as being important to their self-defining as socialbeings.Most of them indicated such memories, but in a negative vein. They noticed their exclusionfrom the curriculum, and were/are angry because they think schools influence perceptions byactively reinforcing prejudices already believed, or by not teaching attitudes that challengethese prejudices. These people sense the power of perception; they understand it can be acatalyst to deepening awareness of social issues, and understanding more complexly the privateand social dynamics underlying them. This explains their dismay when they observe schoolpersonnel ignoring students’ prejudice. Perception can spur harsh bigotry or sensitive probingof issues. Among the subjects in this study, perception catalyzed more than interpretationwhen imbued by what McLaren and Fine separately have called “naming.”Naming is crucial to identity formation, but as a final declaration. Later in this chapterI mention other studies of identity that focus on the stages of coming to terms with one’shomosexuality. The last stage is the act of naming oneself. This represents more than mereacknowledgement of a sexual identity; it means accepting it with the intention of living it asfully as possible. (Cass 1979; 1984)108The Collins English Gem Dictionary lists, among a few definitions of the verb, the word“entitle’ (1963: 341). Although not usually spoken of in this way, “naming” as a facet ofidentity development is entitlement- - to equal rights and the freedom to express one’sorientation openly and publicly. Or, as in the cases presented in this research, an entitlementto visibility in school curriculum, and to the right to share with subjects’ friends and peers inschool as much of their lives as they want to divulge.McLaren and Fine also write of the value of naming, but do not refer to the same practiceswhen they speak of it. Nonetheless their views are close enough to be discussed together.Fine’s “naming” brings under critical review social and educational practices (for example,those that entrench and enforce sexual inequality) (Fine 1991). Naming in this instance is aliberating identification because it unmasks the politics of social practices and how weestablish them. But liberatory identification says Fine, is what schools strive to defuse, deflect,or dominate if necessary. McLaren explains naming, on the other hand, as the resolvingmoment in crystallizing identity (McLaren 1992).All subjects understood what vested interest they had in naming their identities. Two ofthe characteristics used to evaluate school influence, for example, was how much gay/lesbianvisibility was permitted in schools, and the extent of schools’ efforts to educate non-homosexual students about lesbians and gays. This suggests the importance to them of sexualidentity. Zachary, for example, mentioned a liaison with an older man that had “naming”significance, even though it was not the resolving moment in his self-awareness. For the firsttime he gave his real name to someone he had met anonymously.However, just as most participants saw everyday school practices in classrooms as sexuallydemeaning but not indicative of a deliberate effort to influence, so did they detect thedifficulty in expressing their identities openly, but rarely ascribed the difficulty to schools’influence. They chafed at their invisibility but do not usually consider this state a specificgoal of schooling. Nonetheless, whether they ascribe invisibility to institutional goals or not,the participants implicitly acknowledge what they will not proclaim openly: that schools do109influence particular identities punitively or nurturingly depending on their prior institutionaljudgments about them. And homosexual identity is judged unacceptable. Unacceptability andinvisibility are closely aligned as school policy. The subjects know this, and felt so acutelytheir invisibility they framed their awareness in self-knowledge rather than in identity.Not everyone would remove self-knowledge from the domain of identity, however. Forthem self-knowledge imbues identity. The two are inseparable. To force a division betweenthem, as if each existed independently, signifies a terrible development for gays and lesbians:the necessity of choosing one over the other. To have to choose signifies, deplorably, one kindof self-imposed invisibility. Students of whatever sexual identity may similarly encounterschool, but choice imposed because of sexual identity may cut more keenly. The schooldemands from homosexuals something they should never have to give.School discourse thus makes sexual identity a dangerous category. In this danger lie otherhazards, one of which is the necessity of developing scripts of behaviour that seem artificialand false. On the surface, this development is usual enough. Everyone “writes” identity scripts,but for homosexuals these scripts are often confining. What they object to here is not just thedistorting communication of an identity not their own, but to the loss of opportunity to explorethe panoply of meanings implied by “identity.” However, exploring is not necessarilycompatible with writing scripts. As Epstein puts it,[t]he constitution of a gay identity is not something that simply unwinds from within,nor is it just an amalgam of roles that proceed according to scripts. . . . It is in thedialectics between choice and constraint, and between the individual, the group, and thelarger society, that identities” . . . emerge. (Epstein 1992, p. 43)It is precisely the opportunity for a dialectical venture into identity that schools suppress.What is a vast plain of possibility becomes in school a narrow lane of linear conformity.Dialectical prospects become ideological heterosexism. One identity, one understanding, andone form of expressing these are the substance of most school sexual discourse as experiencedby the participants.110By this I do not mean that individual schools and individual teachers do not chip away atthe ideological monolith. Zachary’s experience, related below, confirms they can andsometimes do crack it. His school administration substantially supported his efforts to educatepeople on gay issues, and counselors and teachers from other schools invited him to speak abouthomosexuality to their students. Such practice, if it spreads, might serve as a counteringdiscourse, in the end leading schools to deal openly with sexual themes and experiences nowrarely referred to, let alone systematically studied. Moreover, the commitment of someeducators to the principle of educating to children’s full potential and to preparing them forlife, may persuade these educators to introduce in their classrooms discussion of homosexuality.However, none of these practices would of themselves change the school as a normalizing socialinstitution. The subjectivity developed through schooling would remain intact.3.2 Power, Subjectivity, and Social HeaemonyPolitical Schools, Apolitical SchoolingWhen speaking of school influence I said most participants do not see school as asociopolitical institution. Why speak of institutions and power in a chapter on identity?Because power is the medium through which institutions seek to influence the content andexpression of identity, and through which are entrenched hegemonic assumptions and practices.In an analysis of identity awareness and expression, and of how these are socially learned,followed, or resisted, a discussion of hegemony is unavoidable. Schools are the most significantformal teaching mechanism of our society. The official curriculum of public school systemsis authorized by government acts, and in some provinces even private schools must followgovernment guidelines. Hegemony may be understood by the effort to institute dominance aswell as by the results of the effort. The analysis of schools and influençe explored part of thiseffort. This chapter, contextualized in a discussion of identity, investigates another part. What111meanings of “identity” were detected and considered by participants, and how they expressedor suppressed these meanings are connected to hegemonic messages and enforcement policies.Subjects who do not understand the dynamics of hegemonic practice or even that dominanceis sought, have trouble detecting or explaining what schools do to muffle their lives. Severalexplanations may account for this. Raising critical political awareness is not usually a goal ofschool curricula. Such goals may be curricular features of radical or alternative schools, butrarely of entirely state-governed schools.Furthermore, teachers and principals are the education system’s infantry. They are itsvisage of power. But they do not comprise the entire system. Wanting to change an apparentlylabyrinthine system may cause students to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.Finally, but no less importantly, students are drawn into the ‘zeitgeist’ of schooling, thusmaking it difficult for them to see, much less undermine, school practices. This “drawing-in”is how students experience subjectivity in schools.* * * * *Subjectivity may be modestly explained as the “fashioned” awareness and expectations ofindividuals in environments structured to develop such awareness. Foucault (1983) offers amore complex analysis; people are made subjects through a technique of power that establishescontrol and dependence. Students, for instance, not only become subjects of school policies andrules, they “convey” the same techniques of power by which school regimes institutesubjectivity.Epstein’s discussion of subjectivity includes a quotation from Michael Omi and HowardWinant’s treatment of racial formation as a form of subjectivity (an example of reproduction).“Racial formation . . . should be understood as a . . . set of social practices and beliefs . .articulated in an ideology . . . enforced by a system of racial subjection having bothinstitutional and individual means of reproduction.” (p. 45)Racial formation resembles the formation of identity and sexual identity. Sexual identityformation occurs in schools not as a totality- - as if the forming of sexuality could occur only112in schools-- but as a totalitarian experience, in which school authority professes a single(hetero)sexual alignment and strives to enforce it. Shane Phelan writes that “the experience ofoppression has less to do with what we are told we are like than it does with the rigidity withwhich we are told what we are like, what we mean, and how we should manifest that meaning.”(Phelan 1989, p. 156) The circumstances of such an atmosphere in schools limit significant,honest, and candid discussion of students’ real experiences.Subjectivity is not merely understanding of and obedience to, a set of expected socialbehaviours. The triumph of subjectivity in schools is realized when, for instance, lesbian andgay students criticize the regime for not educating other students positively abouthomosexuality. (Several interviewees offered this criticism of schools.) This exemplifiestriumph because, while schools would appear inclusive if such teaching occurred, theirdifferentiating and excluding regimes would stay intact.Displacing prevailing, exclusionary discourse with inclusionary discourse would address thisdeeper, differentiating purpose. However, if we accept Foucault’s concept of institutionalpower to explain what transpires in schools, we also complicate the task of challengingprevalent concepts of sexuality- - and therefore of legitimate identity- - in schools. This is sobecause Foucault does not see power as separately-competing “bodies” vying for control. Power,for all the contestation within it, is seamless and unitary. It does not consist of discerniblepressure points that yield to sufficient persistence, Foucault says, nor is it comprised of anarray of specific institutions.By power, I do not mean “Power” as a group of institutions and mechanisms that ensurethe subservience of the citizens of a given state . . . . I do not have in mind a generalsystem of domination exerted by one group over another . . . whose effects . . . pervadethe entire social body. . . . power must be understood . . . as the multiplicity of forcerelations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their ownorganization . . . as the strategies in which they take effect, whose . . . institutionalcrystallization is embodied in . . . various social hegemonies. Power’s condition ofpossibility . . . must not be sought in the primary existence of a central point. (Foucault1990: 92-93)113If power is dispersed throughout different ‘sites’, devising suitable oppositional action may beseverely hindered, especially where supportive (gay and lesbian) institutions are weak or nonexistent. In such environments, homosexual students try to understand and live their identities.The interviews that follow reveal a range of insights, expectations, and degrees of chagrinat school experience that fell short of what the subjects hoped to get from it. And to give theminority view its due, there was also satisfaction with school, if for no other reason thannothing more was expected of the school than what it offered. But even in these cases,satisfaction was not uniform or uniformly obtained.I indicated in my discussion of categories of school influence that the participants’ analysessometimes spill into more than one analytical jurisdiction.? I offer the same cautionary noteabout the categories that follow in this chapter. I choose to start off with what I think is thebroader, more fundamental category, and thus one that speaks most closely to the school as asocial institution.3.3 Hegemony, Power, and Difference: The Cases of Jack, Louise. Trish. and AnnWhen I first looked at the idea of hegemony in this chapter, I mentioned the cumulative andaggregate importance of societal institutions to reproduce social values and instill an intent,if not an active desire, to comply with specified norms. Jack was nineteen and enrolled in ascience program when I interviewed him. He brought to his studies a simple yet assuredconfidence in the value and intellectual irreproachability of scientific thought andexperimentation. Science in his sight possessed more authority than other forms of analysis.I begin the interviews with Jack’s because his perception is quintessentially hegemonic.Expertise undergirds and sanctions our social hegemony. If social practices can be justifiedon scientific grounds they are more likely to garner public support. The intertwined historyof homosexuality and psychiatry, during which the former was classified as perversion and a114personality disorder, attest to the power of expert testimony to influence public understanding.Social credibility thus rests on what we think is in-depth, dispassionately-acquired knowledge.However, if hegemony relies partly on the authority of the “expert,” we should not assumeall authorities are equally expert, nor that all specialists are thought equally knowledgeable.As will be seen from Jack’s comments, teachers do not count among the first rank of those whoknow.Jack: The Definitional Power of ExpertsJack did not so much “anoint” himself as a gay man as did the identity positively suffusehis life.I’ve always known I was gay, from a very young age . . . I’ve never had a sense that I wasnot . . . I didn’t look at it as being something very negative . . . I always viewed myfuture as being bleak, because . . . I thought it was something much rarer, somethingvery hard, like in terms of finding a relationship . . . a few years ago . . . that viewchanged . . . but I never felt myself as being strange . . . or something horrible.If Jack had doubts or uncertainties about who he was, they pertained to the enactment andfulfilment of his identity, not to the identity itself.This does not mean however that Jack never came up against anti-gay ideas before enteringschool. The youngest son in a Chinese family, Jack became aware of his parents’ attitudes onhomosexuality but chose to resist their attitudes on this and many other matters. “Very earlyon in life, I never liked their views . . . . I always steered away from their views . . . . I alwaysfound my own . . . . More of my brothers’ views were passed on to me.” Jack has four olderbrothers. The strongest relationship was with the younger two.Jack interviewed as a self-assured person who insisted that life be a catalyst, not a burden.Others interviewed exhibited varying degrees and types of self-assurance. While in school, allsubjects noted (to themselves if no one else) how homosexuality was presented, and manyresisted efforts to depict them as psychologically bruised and socially subjugated. These people115‘countered” school discourse with self-knowledge.Self-knowledge for some participants is a counterpoint regime to heterosexist curriculum.By “regime” I mean a dominion of selfhood, a self-awareness that does not easily yield groundto school-supported values and policies that prevent open discussion of homosexuality whilesimultaneously making it a prohibited condition. However, what is not done easily may stillbe done with difficulty.However limited their experience with, or exposure to homosexuals, the subjects of thisstudy either sensed or clearly understood themselves to be gays and lesbians when they werein high school. Most had faith in the authenticity or accuracy of what they “knew” abouthomosexuality. But this self-knowledge did not follow a deconstructionist line. Its vitality andviability did not depend on analyzing and “exposing” school discourse and school authority.Disbelief in heterosexist teachings does not mean skepticism about all school discourses.Despite the difference between how they are perceived and what their lives are like, thelesbians and gays in this research do not universally distrust authority.Jack, for instance, defers to authority if it is socially constituted as expertise. “I think [ithas] more to do with the fact that I am a science student .. . I’m not religious .. . I have to havefacts for any view that I take . . . I can’t disprove anything without fact as well . . . . expertstend to have . . . you know, more of a sound.” Jack later clarified his meaning: experts soundauthoritative.The clarification begged a question about expertise applied to homosexuality, so I asked him“how do you react to experts who say homosexuality is a disease, a disorder .. . a sign of stuntedgrowth?” Jack answered “[i]t could be true. I can’t say that it’s not . . . it could be genetic, itcould be a result of the social surroundings . . . . I have to judge through the credits of thescientists . . . how they’re viewed . . . by the . . . scientific community.” (my emphasis)Jack invokes several debatable premises about sexuality and its origins, at the same time settinghimself apart from the other participants.Other interviewees forcefully rejected any suggestion in their schools of their abnormality116(thereby attesting to the power of schools and experts to set the tone and agenda of the debate),and demanded schools teach people the truth, that homosexuality is not abnormal. Jack,however, easily accepts that he may be stunted emotionally so long as such is affirmed byscience, a premise of credibility and “fact” prominent in our culture. If something isscientifically proven, it is therefore immutable. Judgment- - unassailable and apolitical- - hasbeen executed.Jack accepts what counts as scientific merit without asking how scientists are accreditedor whether specific arguments about homosexuality are substantive. He does not considervariations of knowledge, integrity, and insight among scientists. He is willing to rely on whatscientists say about other scientists’ work, in effect occasionally relinquishing his judgment tothat of presumed experts.He does not consider “identity” as it may be shaped by school practices that, to some extent,are encouraged, articulated, developed, and implemented by experts. Schools admit theexpertise of different professions, for example educational psychologists, in developingcurricula. (It is useful to recall that teachers and other school professionals embody schoolexpertise. In its early history public school credibility was built partially on pedagogicalteachings only available at Normal Schools. Teachers acquired a professional aura based ontheir presumed special knowledge and teaching proficiency.) Hegemonic education rested andstill rests on individuals’ supposed expertise, a proficiency that appears fully warranted andapolitical. Hegemonic circumstances that often seem natural and unavoidable camouflage theirpolitics. But the experts Jack respects and trusts have political interests that filter through suchprofessional doctrines as the objectivity of science.Jack was not the only person to experience the curriculum as objective truth. Someinterviewees expressed similar ideas even as they challenged the “objective” disparaginginsinuations. (Michael, whom I discuss later, articulates this point.) But Jack is willing to deferto what he thinks is objective expertise.Why would Jack not respond similarly to school personnel as he says he does to scientists?117Why would he accept an identity bestowed” upon him by experts but not necessarily byteachers? Why does Jack perceive teachers- - authority figures based on credibility establishedand reinforced by school policy- - as less expert than scientists? One explanation may be thatJack was unperturbed by a sexual ideology antagonistic to homosexuality because the sourceof the discourse was irrelevant in his eyes. Jack simply ignored it.Another explanation may be found in Jack’s comparison of his parents with scientists. “Ithink that my parents would act more on emotions and . . . social influences . . . experts areprofessional and they don’t allow things like what they feel to . . . enter into their judgement.”Neither Jack’s parents nor, presumably, his teachers, possess the cachet of scientific expertise.Teachers are not expected to rise above the hurlyburly of life, to formulate professionalstandards and curriculum that are disconnected from “society.” But there is more to this.Identity in Jack’s view is independent of discourse. Identity is apolitical. And the expertisethat comments on and judges identity is free of vested interests; therefore its appraisals ofnormalcy or abnormalcy are impeccably accurate. Do these appraisals judge homosexuality adeficient and abnormal condition? Yes, but this is irrelevant to Jack. He nonethelesscontentedly lives his identity. The viability and integrity of his identity are not dependent onwhat others think or feel about homosexuality. He knows himself and has always been soknowledgeable.All subjects expressed similarly affirmative thoughts. Their interpretations of their ownlife experiences allow them to think beyond schools’ sexual and gender credos. Neverthelessthey know enough of what transpires in schools to feel betrayed by their omission from thecurriculum, to be leery of public exposure by others, and to be wary of what they actuallydisclose or might be seen to disclose if they ask too many, or any, “improper” questions abouthomosexuality. They therefore understand a feature of school politics.They are also aware of a broader risk, of politics that infringe their personal space and canpenalize them at any moment. Jack, however, lives as if he is not so imperiled, as if no politicscould or would arbitrarily target him. In effect, Jack concludes that school is virtually118irrelevant to identity formation, and to its consequent and subsequent meanings.The irrelevance is better understood given Jack’s attempt to explain identity. Ordinarily,an all-embracing idea such as identity intimidates by virtue of that expansiveness. Jack’s bestanswer was to describe it as one’s personality, a person’s “individualness.” A genericexplanation proved elusive, as did specific examples that might anchor such an explanation.In fact, all the subjects struggled to provide examples to clarify their thoughts.Consequently, the patterned thinking, valuing, perceiving, and behaving, citable asattributes of identity- - attributes open to normalizing insinuations through school experiences- -become instead one’s general personality. Because people enter school with personalitiesalready in place, the participants think these are not as susceptible to the school’s discursiveintrusions.Discourse is the matrix of both subjectivity and identity. Political interests subtlycommunicated in and through discourses, ‘seep” into our subjectivities. This understanding ofsubjectivity, and of identity, is obscured by a haze of presumed benign objectivity andconstructed silences (of, for example, sexual heterogeneity, and particularly homosexuality).Marianne Valverde (1991) writes that deconstructing (revealing the politics, contentions,and important players now submerged in time and deliberate obscuration), and exposing, thesocial fabrication of identity, does not stop oppression when that very oppression is based onassigned identities. “School-assigned” identities is what many participants object to.Through curriculum, schools fixed the participants in identities they did not recognize andknew to be false. The lives they really lived were rarely visible in the school curriculum; whenintroduced, the participants felt the depictions were distorted. Their relationships with peers,several report, left them feeling they always lied, pretended, or deceived others. In suchconditions, as Valverde suggests, deconstructing identity does not necessarily lead toreconfiguring its politics.Jack does not consider such transforming of school politics is necessary because he does notthink school is significant to naming himself or to his drive toward self-sufficiency and119agency. But in his disregard of the school as a crucible of his identity may be found therejection of it as signifier. The idea of a signifier is rooted in the concept of signification. Itrefers to thedistinction between signifier, signified, and sign. The signifier can be a physical object,a word, or a picture of some kind. The signified is a mental concept indicated by thesignifier. The sign is the association of signifier and signified. (Abercrombie, Hill, &Turner 1988)In Jack’s reading, however, the school symbolizes nothing but a venue for teaching, and thepolitics of socialization are invisible.The other participants were not so oblivious of schools. Louise, for example, does not thinkformative environments can be discreetly isolated and analyzed, such that schools are neithersignificant nor signifying. However, Louise glimpses the hegemony of school experiencewithout using the term. She sees its relation to identity to the extent she feels it necessary todance around the concept of identity. We cannot escape having an identity, she says, whichgives it the appearance of a yoke.Canadian and American societies emphasize individual freedom, even if somewhatdifferently. Identity is rarely valued for its collective classification only, even when we realizewe negotiate social and personal identities all the time. We “wear” our hegemony uneasily,experiencing it at different times more as constraint than liberation. To say, then, that wecannot escape having identity turns inside out what others in this research see as a sign ofpersonal achievement and record- - developing and sustaining identity. The hegemony ofschooling leaves Louise seeking a respite from what I call the politics of identity formation.She wants this despite thinking the search is futile. Hegemony for Louise is not merelydominant, it is ubiquitous.Louise: Transcendent IdentityLouise, 18, believed that identity has context but that it goes beyond the particular120circumstances of a context whether we want it to or not; it has existence beyond our intentions.“I don’t think anyone cannot have an identity outside of a situation,” she says (my emphasis).This is reminiscent of Foucault’s comment that we are never just in an adversarial powerrelationship, that we can never escape discourse and power, and that as subjects we conductpower as well as respond to it. For good or ill, school is a formative life situation. Louise alsowas impressed by Foucault, enough that she referred in the interview to some of his writings.Louise’s explanation of identity intrigues because it portrays it as something constantlyemergent but never extant. Identity has conceptual stasis, but specifics alter over time.However, this does not mean Louise abdicates a role in developing her own identity. She maynot associate identity formation with schooling- - schooling being no more formative than anyother situation-- but she explains identity as “something you identify with, something that youcall your own.”Eluding Identity, Embracing Self-KnowledgeThe evidence suggests that Louise echoes Jack’s affirmation of identity, but to conclude inthis way would be misleading. Louise finds identity elusive definitionally and practically. Butthere is something else at work here, the study of self, the gathering of self-knowledge in a waythat makes it a buttress against identity itself.Later in this chapter I address self - knowledge in relation to and as distinguished from“identity.” At this stage what should be said is that most participants differentiated betweenself-knowledge and identity, the former representing the most personal- -and thus the mostreliable- -understanding one can acquire. Identity seemed larger, more enveloping, andconsequently a type of trap. An example highlighting the difference may be found inMichael’s experience (discussed later). Although he knew a few other gay people, and knewhimself as a gay person, he believed one teacher’s comments that all gays and lesbians werefilthy people who caused AIDS. Eventually, after moving to Vancouver, Michael rejected theteacher’s conclusions.For most participants self- knowledge was more delineating because it always shifts; at one121time it is more revealing and informing, at another more concealing and informing. But asmuch as it shifts, Louise’s understanding of self-knowledge is still a more dependable andreassuring understanding than that derived from identity, which Louise perceives assuperficial[;] it’s sort of ‘this is me,” and it is by definition superficial . . . . I don’t thinkI own .. . qualities. Foucault owns part . . . and other people own part .. . which goesthrough me. Like it’s not something that is . . . mine ... . these qualities are brought outwith my interaction with my environment and I can’t own them, they aren’t menecessarily. I think I have less faith in personal identity than I have in self-knowledgebecause I can see patterns of myself in the same situation and I can see myself reactingto things similarly and say, “okay, maybe this is a pattern that I intrinsically am andhave,” but I feel that there’s less self . . . everything is sort of more one. I’m part of myenvironment. Also it’s too . . . arrogant, I believe, to presume that I could have anidentity . . . my environment is my identity. My reaction to my environment allows myidentity. (my emphasis)In an earlier allusion in chapter 2, I quoted Louise as saying she could not presume to knowwhether schools influence because she had nothing to compare them to; she could, however, saythey were superficial and alienating. Louise carries this wariness into her discussion ofidentity; she challenges definitive classification but is not fully resistant to its influence. Tobe someone is important, but not if it means becoming categorically fixed.Jack’s concept of identity as personality is similar to Louise’s concept of it as superficial.A curriculum stressing a heterosexist hegemony leads both to emphasize forms of irrelevance.Neither Louise nor Jack- -nor anyone-- can escape the school’s discursive regime, but theyrespond differently. For Jack, the subjectivity of the school is irrelevant in that he lives lifewithout qualms. Louise tries to minimize the superficiality of school by complying with itoutwardly but despising it inwardly.When I asked her how she would describe herself to me if I met her at a party, Louisereplied,I’d probably laugh and give you something. Anything that came to mind.Alan: But nothing particularly that you feel attached to?Louise: No.122The result is permanent elusiveness, a constant destabilization of identity through Louise’sunwillingness to become classifiable. James, 18, expressed a similar view when describing whathe was like in junior high school: “I was a shadow.’As general openness to life’s experiences, elusiveness may be a fortunate development. Asa commitment to destabilizing prevailing heterosexual and gender beliefs developed in schools,elusiveness may be a political asset. But as an effort to avoid the scrutiny of school andsociety, it will fail. Scrutiny cannot be eluded, at least not in Foucault’s sense of power. (Ithink also of Willis’s conclusion about his lads. For all their opposition to school ideologies,Willis says, it was the lads’ oppositional ideology that left them living anyway the lives theywere “intended” to live.)Wendy Hollway writes of approaching subjectivity “through the meanings and incorporatedvalues which attach to a person’s practices.” (Hollway 1984: 227) By her account subjectivityis not just inevitable submission to discourse. It is a ‘mechanism’ by which people activelysituate themselves within it. Hollway says individuals invest in forms of power as we alignourselves consciously and unconsciously with particular kinds of discourse. (To illustrate this,Holiway inquires “[w]hy do men ‘choose’ to position themselves as subjects of the discourse ofmale sexual drive? Why do women continue to position themselves as its object?” The kind anddegree of power in these cases are unequal, but subjectivity “convinces” us to place ourselves,and to be placed, in particular categories of being and not others.) Incorporated values are thearray of meanings and beliefs that guide the investing.Louise does not acknowledge she has specific meanings and incorporated values. Whereasshe might interpret identity as something continually in flux, there is another interpretation.The most poignant and incisive influence of a discrediting institution may be its capacityto prevent or obstruct the development of (non-heterosexual) incorporated values. When Louisesays it is arrogant to presume she could have an identity, is she feeling obstructed? Does shemean she could never be, or could want to be, so clearly capsulized? Is Louise following theline of Queer Theory (Warner 1992) by disclaiming the value of a particular identity so as to123parody and distance herself from all identity? Or is she disavowing all conscious embrace ofthe kinds of practices Hollway labels incorporated values? Are Louise’s comments thetestimony of a chameleon, a person determined to deny all externally-imposed signification,or an individual who realizes that to be open to diverse possibilities in life requires maximumflexibility? The latter might reasonably work as interpretation were it not for the last twosentences of the last quoted excerpt. The environment is her identity, she says; environmentallows her identity.This may represent a strategic yielding to heterosexism, a way of bending to sexualityportrayed only heterosexually without submitting to it. But Louise differentiates between self-knowledge and identity. The former is something more closely obtained and more closelycherished. Louise thinks identity is relinquishable, for it is merely the glazed surface of socialrelationships. And social relationships are induced by power and compel untrue personalportrayals. Schools are institutions of power where inducements are the backbone of thecurriculum. Louise refers to the power schools have over her, and how powerless she feels.Among the participants, Louise is not alone in conceptualizing identity as a superficial,ever-changing response to social relationships. Trish, 21, alludes to identity as “the way youdefine yourself socially . . . who you are, what you are, and what your sexuality is.” But thisstatement is too vague.To understand the vagueness, compare Trish with Louise. Louise thinks social relationshipsare performances in which one caters the depiction of identity to the crowd’s demand.Whatever the crowd wants a person to be is what the crowd gets. Depiction-performancerequires a script, and Louise’s personal script is a permanent response to social expectationspartly conveyed through social institutions such as schools. Is this also Trish’s view? Is socialdefining for her a matter of rewriting one’s sexual and social scripts to fit what Louise mightcall choreographed gender and social performances? I am tempted to say yes because Trishfelt she had to portray herself distortedly to school friends and acquaintances to rebutassumptions about her lesbianism. Hegemonic practices in schools subtly advance124interpretations of life, and encourage us to act on them.Michael, whom I discuss later, says that we learn to identify difference and to respond toit negatively and sometimes brutally. Anti-homosexual ideas, values, and gender assumptionsconvince students to understand life more narrowly than how it is actually lived by manypeople. Whereas Louise experienced the school’s hegemony as a wide swath, Trish experiencedit more specifically. She had to defend herself against allegations of lesbianism based on arumour she had kissed another girl. Ideological dominance that constitutes hegemony can beseen in this incident, in that a non-existent act was construed as something substantive.Hegemony here is not encountered abstractly but in a precise milieu encouraging somebehaviours and degrading others.TrishTrish thinks schools play an important role in forming identity. “The things that schoolsteach that are really important and influential to teenagers . . . relate to your identity, to yoursexual identity, to your cultural identity, and to your intellect.” The teaching she refers to iswhat transpires on the entire school landscape, not just in classrooms. Curriculum is predetermined; students learn what has already been decided they should learn, complete withexpected outcomes. This is tantamount to scripting for circumstances society assumes alreadyexist.While Trish was in high school, a rumour started that she had kissed a girl in the hall. Trishwas in fact in a sexual relationship through her first few years of high school. Yet she was stillenraged at the report of behaviour that, were it true, should have warranted no response fromanybody witnessing it. As it happens the kiss never occurred but she had to deal with therepercussion of it becoming “common knowledge” in the school. The experience still tormentsher.Hearing from other people about the rumour, it’s a warning, because when I heard aboutthe rumour, I felt the hate in it, [the] disgust and disapproval of people. So to protect125myself .. . I would, even to my very best friends, say it was a rumour. And laugh aboutit. And almost .. . be homophobic. Almost portray that hate. That kind of hate, it’salmost that these individuals were trained somehow by society and schools, to look uponthat as a sinful thing . . . . most people also felt threatened by the rumour.In such a homophobic environment, to publicly name oneself is extremely difficult. To doso only privately limits the expressiveness of identity and therefore the exposure and possibleeducation of others.Another thing . . . is that people have no idea of what to think of lesbians. With twomen, [they] sort of have the fag idea, this physical idea of what they do to each other.But with lesbians it’s sort of “what are they all about? What do they do?” It’s still adirty thing, but . . . People don’t know what to think about it.Trish’s observation poignantly reveals the costs of discursive prohibitions.In an earlier chapter I wrote of prohibition so penetrating it silences without specifyingwhat the silence is about, or why we must be silent. People learn what not to ask without beingtold what not to ask about. The obverse of this prohibition is in fact to inquire, but througha mystified mist. As Trish puts it, “what are they all about?” Such questioning by students maycommunicate muted interest in the prohibited behaviour itself, even as it postulates yet anothermeaning: incredulity that anyone could or would want to be a lesbian. Identity is thus multiply“extinguished.”Lesbians are constituted as “other” by virtue of heterosexuals’ ignorance of real lesbians andtheir lifestyles. People know about gays but lesbians are inscrutable, even to other females.Schools foster, if in a bizarre and distorted way, awareness of gay men, but the school’s genderdiscourse doubly silences lesbians- - as females and as lesbians- - and doubly alienates all femalesfrom their own sexual and gender possibilities. In such conditions, agency and self-awareness,two facets of identity, are severely impaired. These are vital aspects of naming oneself, of“situating” oneself in identity.This analytical category on hegemony and reproduction of social values and practices does126not emphasize naming one’s identity, but none of these categories stands entirely separate fromthe others. “Naming’ is vital to all the subjects, including Ann.But I include her in this section on hegemony because she articulates the control exerted byothers over important aspects of her life. Such control is a manifestation of hegemonicattitudes and vested interests. It is the enactment of these through regulatory structures.Discipline imposed by a school administration is one example of structural control. (Later inthis chapter I discuss an example- - the official interference in Barry’s choice of a high schoolcourse males rarely if ever selected.)AnnAnn’s perspective on schools is reminiscent of Louise’s: they require of lesbians and gays- -and perhaps of others judged too different from the norm- - dissembling of personal identity.Identity “is how you wish yourself to be perceived . .. you’re not really aware of what you’redoing, you don’t really have control over what you’re doing, you’re just doing things becauseother people do them, or because you think that you should be doing them.” Although Ann doesnot mention unsatisfying personal scripts, what she says echoes thoughts of other participants.Scripts can help us, but not when they feel inappropriate to those who feel obligated to live bythem.Cohn, on the other hand, never referred to scripts in his interview. But he was confusedand angered by the school’s refusal to post a flyer advertising a gay youth group. Cohn wasone who had not yet picked up on the political and differentiating purposes of schooling. Hisviews on identity were consistent with his faith in the rationality and compassion of a systemsupposed to educate, in his view, all students. Cohn measured the school’s influence on hisunderstanding of identity in personal, not social or political terms. On this basis Cohn couldbe classified in the “naming and identity” category, but I have decided to include him herebecause interpreting broader social goals in personal terms is an objective of hegemonicsystems.127The most effective indoctrinatory instrument works its “magic’ while seeming not to do so.Hegemony is implemented most effectively when it is imperceptible and arouses little if anyopposition. Cohn localizes the school’s political project to its impact on his own life. This isunderstandable but it obscures the project. This is hegemony at its best.Cohn: Personal Development as Institutional IntentCohn, 18, is skeptical of the entire prospect of school influencing identity. As he puts it,it depends on the person. There are a lot of people that have been, you know, convincedthat you have to be heterosexual . . . through school . . . and that’s the way you fit in.You’re part of the norm . . . But that doesn’t always work . . . obviously all theheterosexual . . . reinforcements that I got did nothing for me. I mean, I’m still ahomosexual.In an immediate sense Cohn is right. He has, through perseverance if not resistance, sustainedhis identity. But he associates personal development with institutional intent, as if the detailsof his life confirm or disprove the intention.However, Cohn’s perspective does not nullify school discourse as a renunciatorysubjectivity, which is how most subjects experienced school. When Trish, for example, had tolaugh at the rumour of her kissing another girl, she had to simultaneously renounce herself andthe value of her identity. Cohn’s view atomizes the reality. Others in the present research feltatomized through their isolation and identity aloofness, but as responses to their schoolexperiences. They did not assume, as Cohn did, that these are determinants of the intent ofschool ideology.The participants in this part of the chapter did not use “hegemony” or “ideology” in theirinterviews, but what they discussed were outcomes of negotiating through and with prevalentheterosexist forces. Nevertheless the outcomes were varied. Of the five people in this group,Louise and Trish offered the most openly political analysis of schooling. They were mostaware that identity has social and personal attributes. The rest range from mild political128awareness to very little. But all worked to uphold the integrity of their personal identities.While this was so of all participants, some accentuated the personal more than thesociocultural or political characteristics of identity. Those who did this most conspicuously Ihave grouped together in the next category.3.4 Naming and Identity: The Cases of Barry. Sean and MichaelNaming oneself is presented here separately from the other categories of hegemony andsubjectivity, and varieties of difference. But all subjects experienced the powerful desire toname themselves, to know their identities were “real.’ What they meant by this variedsomewhat, but there remained a clear message. They wanted to feel what Erik Erikson says,as he is quoted by Kenneth Gergen. “In the social jungle of human existence there is no feelingof being alive without a sense of identity” (Gergen 1991: 38) And more than this, that theidentity should match “who they are.” For all the adjustments and compromises we make inlife, for all the times we defer or acquiesce to people or external forces, for all the decisionswe put off or avoid making out of fear, uncertainty, or insufficient audacity, we may still feelwe have lived our lives if our sense of psychological, emotional, and intellectual wholeness isintact. The adjustments and compromises are less noticeable or more easily acknowledged whenwe feel unified. But when identity is unauthentic, we gag on the compromises and adjustments.What might otherwise be seen as a clever strategy is instead seen as personal failure. Thisexplains Trish’s anger with herself for reproducing or recreating the hatred she saw in herpeers when they thought she had kissed another girl. This explains why James describeshimself as a shadow, and why Brent (discussed later in this chapter) claims to have had noidentity in school.To name oneself is to seize one’s own identity, to try to live authentically in an environmentthat so often demands compliance but not integrity. This category speaks to how Barry, Sean,and Michael seized their identities.129Barry: The School as TormentThe problems of naming and of contending with “otherness” were complicated in Barry’scase because he was the least clear of all participants in his self-acceptance as a gay man. YetBarry, 21, contested conditions in his high school that indicated the school’s commitment tostrictly-differentiated gender boundaries. Analysis of his interview begins with a discussionof his understanding of “identity.”When asked to explain identity, Barry stated, “[i]dentity means that you feel as thoughyou fit into a group, you have a sense of belonging, you share their values, their beliefs.”Barry did not mean by this that a gay group is the only type of collective with whom he mightfeel a common bond. Quite the contrary was the case. “Even with the gay identity I wouldthink I would have another identity,” he said.Barry feels disunited from other gays. In his words, “I don’t have a peer group . . . . I’ mreally my own island.” Barry is in such conflict over his identity he cannot conceive himselfas a gay person. Otherness becomes not just a social category he is compelled to join, it is apersonal envelope that he occupies solitarily. He couldn’t share their values, he says, even ifhe were to meet gay people. All homosexual males are categorized as one. Barry essentializesidentity into a caricature.The caricatured view is partly a result of isolation in a small community that did notrealistically expose people to the lesbian and gay lifestyles. Furthermore, Barry despises/d hisschool experience, and may not have listened even if his school had displayed exemplaryopenness about sexuality. “I hated school . . . because I didn’t like the social institution totally,and I hated the classroom setting . . . to this day . . . I feel as though I’m the oddball out here.”The discourses of schooling may vary somewhat, as is indicated by Zachary’s positiveexperience. But overwhelmingly they are marginalizing and ridiculing. And schools mayignore students’ subject choices if they are not properly ‘gendered’, as Barry’s school did whenit refused to allow him to take Home Economics. Having made what he thought was a goodchoice, Barry was treated as if he were an “oddball,” in that the school authority thought his130choice strange enough to ignore it. This made him strange in the eyes of school personnel andalso in his own eyes, both for selecting home economics and for thinking he had the right todo so. Although Barry referred to gender in his interview he did not consider the possiblerelationship between subject selection in school and a perception among school personnel thathe was gay. This lack of consideration is not surprising given Barry’s own uncertainty aboutwanting to be homosexual.Barry, who on one hand states his interest in gay groups and meeting others like himself,on the other hand says, “I’m not taking a gay identity. Definitely not. Why should I? I haven’tdone anything gay.” (my emphasis)I will not discuss the origin(s) of homosexuality, and whether any lesbian or gay chooses theorientation. However, Barry believes identity is a choice that can easily be exchanged foranother. To take something is to have the possibility of giving it back. This epitomizes namingas a rational act. But it also reveals what Louise indicates: that identity for some of thelesbians and gays in this research is a problematic and a problematizing state, fraught withconflict between personal understandings and an ideology of sex education that emphasizes“plumbing” details and dissuasion of non-heterosexual activity. The result is a displaced, wary,and tentative identity.Louise reflects others’ personality and character expectations, James is a shadow, and Barryis an island.Consider the last sentence of Barry’s last excerpt. “I haven’t done anything gay,” he says.Gayness is sex. This assumption fits well with sex education programs that stress biology andsexual acts but not sexuality. And certainly not sexual desire, as Michelle Fine (1988) pointsout.Barry has homosexual desires, but he doesn’t think they constitute identity. He struggles tofind a comfortable stasis through his desire to experience sex, his need for identity, and hispreferred stance of sexual and intellectual non-commitment. “I’ve always sort of looked atthings differently . . . on an outside level . . . . as an observer, not as a participant . . . . I don’t131feel as though I have an identity just because I’m gay . . . does that mean I have an identity justbecause I’m human?Whereas Barry earlier suggests identity is general, almost faceless, here there is a search foridentity, but something beyond, even instead of, sexual identity. However, the parameters ofidentity are unclear to him, and they are certainly not dealt with in school. Uncertain as hemay be of what personal identity he wants, he knows he wants at least a social identity. Barryresorts to a fundamental search within the most expansive category of all- - “human.’Louise, James, and Barry, try to distance themselves from sexual identity as if there couldnot be value in it. This holds even as James and Louise have had, and continue to seek,homosexual relations with others. School is so discursively disaffirming that none can seesexual identity constituting the primary substance of who they are. They are, they say, unique,detached, and more than lesbian and gay (as if each of these in itself could signify the totalityof being lesbian or gay).In one sense they are right. People are not just aggregates of desires, interests, inclinationsand patterns. However, these categories of impulse, understanding, and experience,nevertheless delineate us in some way. Ideas of justice, views of and responses to authority,and interpretations of life experiences are, for most of the subjects, intertwined with beinglesbian or gay. Although most said they would be the same people they are now if they werenot homosexual, their answers varied when I inquired about levels of skepticism, attitudesabout and toward authority, and about whether they perceive themselves more or less life-experienced than their peers.Most associated sexual identity with heightened opposition to discrimination against others,skepticism about reports of fact, and a strong sense of having experienced adversity and comethrough it in ways their non-homosexual peers could not match. They may not be mereaggregates of characteristics, but their personae are intrinsically linked to what they haveexperienced because they are lesbian or gay. These self-analyses register, most evocatively, theact of naming.132Schools permit students to organize themselves according to sporting and hobby interests,various academic pursuits, occasionally according to religious beliefs, but they almost neverallow groupings based on ‘deviant’ sexuality.Subjectivity for homosexuals in schools always threatens deprivation- - of the value oflooking at life differently, of the company and reassurance of others like themselves, and toooften of physical security. Schools do not encourage exploration of “unconventional” identities,they do not facilitate their formation, and in the curricular silence on non-heterosexualsexuality they teach without specifying, what must never be mentioned, questioned, considered,explored, or expressed. In this way schools shape the subjectivity of their students.Should anyone wonder why these participants hesitate to commit themselves to an identity,when the connotations of the word are so entrapping? Understanding identity usually meansdoing what is commonly prohibited in schools. What does an unexplored, unquestioned, andunconsidered identity amount to? What do we learn about ourselves- - and about others for thatmatter- - if we are unable to probe in this way? How do we reconcile our sense of the worldwith our self-perceptions, and how do we communicate these thoughts to our peers, as they maycommunicate their thoughts to us? In the absence of this dynamic of self-awareness, identityis something conformed to and complied with. What ensued was anger and disaffection in theparticipants over the coerciveness of schools. What is missing is the political vocabulary thatpermits analysis of schools as social institutions, to focus the anger on political and socialchange.Sean’s memories and analysis of his school experience indicate the value of having apolitical vocabulary. On this basis alone Sean’s interview could have been examined in thesection on hegemony. But Sean was proud of his perseverance as a gay man in an institutiondedicated to identifying and penalizing differences among its students. Because he stronglyaccented his resourcefulness and resoluteness in being and “staying” gay, I include him here.I count tenacity as an important aspect of self-naming.133Sean: Fabricating DifferencePeople do not turn out as expected. Coercion and exclusion do not always squelch the spiritof identity. Sean, 22, exemplifies this. He was a fashion iconoclast in high school, dressingvery differently and attracting the not-so-pleasant attention of other students. When he namedhimself as a gay man- - only to himself in the beginning and then to others- - he made clear thatproblems over his candor were other people’s difficulty. Being gay was not a problem for Sean.This does not mean, however, that Sean’s experience was entirely positive.As a Newfoundlander Sean could only attend a denominational school. He attended aCatholic school, the sexual ethos of which followed Catholic scriptural interpretation. Hedescribes the students in the school as conformist and quick to identify and penalizedifference.They just had to find something where they had an excuse to treat me differently. Theyweren’t successful because . . . I just would come to school and . . . act whatever way Iwanted . . . . it’s bad enough to be everything bad, but if you’re . . . something veryspecific like being gay, that [is] the ultimate . . . . Most of these people thought it wasmorally wrong to be gay.Sean’s discussion of how his peers justified differential treatment of people, stressed it was agroup phenomenon. He does not conceptualize it as behaviour induced by a school regime, inwhich binary gender values are taught and enforced. Ab/normal, and homo/heterosexualoperate as polarized categories rather than interrelated dimensions of human experience.School discourse contextualizes and may openly reward anti-homosexual behaviour on groundsof maintaining “the right” of heterosexuality: heterosexuality as the “right” identity to have,and the “right” of heterosexuals to dissuade, humiliate, or perhaps even eliminate their opposite.Where homo meets abnormal, negative sanctions may be justifiably invoked.From this regime may come questions such as those stated by Trish, the gist of which is,“what are they [lesbians] all about?” And from this regime comes the self-loathing that Trishremembers feeling after she felt compelled to deny herself and to castigate herself bycondemning all homosexuals. She would never have kissed another girl. What girl would want134to do anything so gross?For a long time Sean concealed his sexuality from other students, and also from friends andfamily members. But identity solidified in Sean an inner strength.I am who I am ... . I had these feelings, I knew it was totally different from what I feltbefore. It’s not the same feelings I’m supposed to have . . . for girls . .. . [what] you feelinside about yourself, knowing what you’re capable of doing, knowing where yourweaknesses are . . . just basically knowing .. . your true self . . . . The part I have to dealwith is the people that are negative and are going to be negative for a long, long time.In contrast to Louise, Trish, and Barry, Sean doesn’t hold identity askance to prevent enclosurewithin confining boundaries. He does not separate self-knowledge from identity; on thecontrary, self-knowledge is wrapped up with it.Sean is like Jack in this respect. Jack is unperturbed that he may be abnormal, and Sean,now fully aware of his sexuality, is untroubled by the great debates about its origin. His lackof distress stems partly from his assumption that identity is a biological assignation. “As soonas you are born you’re identified as a boy or girl . . . From there on you are classified . .. . boysare supposed to be doing this and that, this is how you’re supposed to act.”Sean refers to gender, but assumes it incorporates sexuality. Being a boy mandates certainacts that conventional “wisdom” does not associate with homosexuality. However, Seaneventually assumes he is biologically gay and need not concern himself about it. What he mustdeal with are the reactions of others around him. Sean draws personal strength from his abilityto cope with these circumstances. Furthermore, he associates sexual identity with biologicaldestiny. The association dissolves any guilt and lessens the anger and frustration of realizinghomosexuality is not part of the curriculum.Sean’s response contrasts with the other participants’ when they noted theirabsence/omission from the official curriculum, and their distorted presence in the largercurriculum of school organization. Do schools play a significant and signifying role? Nonethat Sean stipulates. Do schools encourage homophobia in students? None that Sean detected.135Yet homophobia, as the obverse of compulsory heterosexuality, is embedded in the institutionalpurpose of schooling (Sears 1991; Price 1982; Griffin 1991).Occasionally teachers and other school personnel introduce alternative views of sexuality,but for most participants schools were unrelenting environments of exclusion and, sometimes,fear. Sears’ work canvasses the attitudes of teachers and lesbian and gay teenagers. Althoughin the latter case Sears is interested in the broader cultural cauldron of family, and friends,school experience ranks importantly because occasionally teachers provided a vital supportnetwork. Price investigated attitudes of high school students about homosexuality and Griffinasked homosexual teachers if their professionalism was conceived and acted out differentlythan was true of their non-lesbian/gay colleagues. All three authors reached similarconclusions. Attitudes do change over time, and anti-homosexual feelings and ideas mellow orevolve. Nonetheless they also found homophobia in schools. If active disqualification of non-heterosexual sexuality did not come from teachers, it came from students unhindered byteachers’ interference.It is worthwhile to recall Sean’s observation that other students searched for reasons to treathim differently. This suggests- - in a play on Foucault’s idea of a “will to power” and a “will totruth”- -a “will to differentiate,” and therefore to persecute. This is the fundamental premiseof subjectivity as experienced by the participants. In an atmosphere of ideologicalnormalization, the coercion underlying supposedly natural and normal social arrangements isdisguised. For those who are sexually “different,” however, the arrangements become partiallyvisible through actions directed against them by other students, and partly through the inactionof school authorities to control these other students. When gays and lesbians retreat from“identity” as too encapsulating and endangering, they retreat as well from the implicit coercionthat politicizes and polarizes identity.Sean’s sense of himself develops despite the behaviour of students and the discreditationof school discourse. His identity anchors how he understands and treats others, and what heexpects in return. He is both empathetic and pragmatic. “The gay part [of me] I think is136accepting people for who they are . . . being accepting of whatever they are or whatever they’vedone in the past. It’s probably more related to being gay because I want people to accept mefor who I am.” Reciprocity, contingency, and practicality are predominant concerns for Sean.Although Sean does not clearly associate identity formation with his school experience, hedoes refer to the religious atmosphere of the school and how it incites students to identifydifferences in their peers. He thus contextualizes the possibility of subjectivity formingidentity without identifying its achievement.Sean’s awareness of the politics of differentiation is similar to Michael’s awareness of howdifference becomes the basis of discrimination. Michael also moves through a school systemheavily oriented toward social, political, and cultural orthodoxy. And this hegemony was feltdaily by Michael in the very small town in which he grew up. But I place Michael under“naming and identity” because he draws significantly on his sense of self-identification. Histriumph against constant adversity is conspicuously his own, at the same time as he appreciatesthe difference between social and personal politics. Sean prevailed through endurance andself-respect. Michael displays these qualities as well, but sees in human interaction possibilitiesfor the politics of change.MichaelMichael, 21, grappled with the production of difference throughout his school years. “Ithink, you know, you sort of don’t feel different until somebody points it out.” Michael’sunderstanding matches what other interviewees remember of feeling different and beingtreated differently. Most indicate sensing this difference at very young ages. (A question maybe posed about how it is that subjectivity enables other young children to identify qualities tobe vilified, but does not so enable those who allegedly possess the vilifiable characteristics.Perception is apparently outward, not inward. However, leaving the question this way omitsa further consideration. Schools may foster the targeting of children who seem vulnerable, andonly afterward is the condemnation rationalized in gender terms.)137Michael grew up in a very small midwestern American town. He attended the localelementary and high schools (except in his senior year). Beginning in elementary school, he wassubjected to constant verbal and occasional physical harassment. Teachers living in thecommunity who were friends of Michael’s parents did not reveal to them what Michael hadendured until after Michael had left the high school. None interceded with students on hisbehalf.Michael displayed early artistic interests in dance and music, which may partly explain thedesignation of difference. He and his family also rarely attended church in a communitynotable for its consistent church attendance. When they did go, it was to a church located inanother town. Conceivably, Michael may have borne the brunt of anger actually directed athis family.Nevertheless, school shaped his identity through curriculum and tacit permission forstudents to define and penalize difference. This is what Fuss means by the construction andproduction of difference (Fuss 1989). Schools establish premises of difference, and theincentives to differentiate. When I asked Michael whether he associated his treatment byschoolmates with self-understanding of his identity, he said “I don’t know where it came from,it didn’t come from my parents, it must have come from God. I just knew that I was okay andwas going to be all right . . . . I didn’t feel ‘oh I’m so horrible, I’m a freak’. I never reallywent through that phase.”The strength of Michael’s selfhood is found in the last sentence. He assumes that to judgeoneself negatively is a phase, a waystation to self-acceptance. However, Michael understandssome philosophical ramifications of his experiences. “I shouldn’t have to label myself. Youknow, I’ve thought about this really philosophically . . . In a utopian society I shouldn’t haveto label myself, but I’ve had to in this society.”Labelling is not a necessarily injurious social practice. We are not always snared by itssimplifications of people’s lives. And it can ease our lives by classifying people, worksituations, and personal objectives, as Michael himself recognizes when he says “I don’t think138we’re at a point in our society where we can do without labels quite yet . . . . I think we needto label some things that people are afraid to label . . . . I think we live in a really racist,homophobic, misogynistic society, and I’m labelling it. (my emphasis) This is discourse byanother name.Labelling in this case may be seen as an example of a Foucaultian will to knowledge ortruth. It implicitly conveys the criteria by which we judge anything to be “truth” or“knowledge.” Labelling seen in this light also thrusts into the forefront of public vision thosepractices society conceals, but which are the bases of social discrimination. Michael turnsinside out the ideological regime that torments him, and sees the possibilities in using a similarbut subversive approach. He who has been named all his life by others now names the others.The more common assumption about labelling, however, is that it has negative connotations.To label people is to reduce their lives to a few caricatured penstrokes. The character, thepanache, the frenzy of individuals’ lives, are eliminated by a taxonomic whim. What is left isbarely, if at all, the people the labels are meant to describe.Michael notices the negativity of labels. He too detects, as do Louise, James, and Barry, thesharply confining effects of what they call “identity,” and of what Michael calls “labels.” Theterminological difference is important I think, because Michael does not feel harnessed by hisidentity. The others do feel constrained because they sense their identities are somewhatdetermined by others’ attitudes toward, and assumptions about, them. They cannot claim thekind of ownership they believe should inhere in the embracing of an identity.Subjectivity in one sense stretches identity- - blurs its contours and defining features, givingan appearance of all-inclusiveness- -so that all seem to have a stake in what it becomes. But the“stake” in this abrogates identity as parody (both of the idea of identity, and of conventionalunderstandings of what identity is and how it should be expressed), as refuge, and as personalinvention.Few of the participants conceive identity pluralistically, as multiple identities that aresimultaneously tried, explored, revamped, and maybe discarded. Something so dearly acquired139and defended as identity is not always looked upon so playfully. For Louise, identity meansconcealment; Barry is reluctant to have an identity, but if he must he prefers it be humanrather than one more definitive; and Michael affirms his identity but thinks he may beadmitting himself to a corps of sex-crazed people (as one of his teachers imagined gays andlesbians to be).Michael considers himself self-made, and in this view he affirms the inventiveness ofidentity, the persistence indispensable to invention, and the liberatory capacity of namingoneself. Michael is one who says schools do influence, deliberately and in effect, but in termsof their model, not models chosen by students. Persistence is critical in a milieu devoted to aspecific form of influence. Michael believes he has surmounted and transcended the severepersistence of his school persecutors because he has emerged a proud and tenacious gay man.Being in such an adversity has made me drive to find my source- -I’m a very spiritualperson- -and along the way I’m finding out things about myself, and I think a lot ofpeople don’t have that drive, they just go along with the crowd, just have a bit of asheep-like attitude, and they’re perfectly happy people.Accurate though this view of himself may be, in a Foucaultian sense Michael never transcendsthe experience. He is condemned by peers, left to fend for himself by teachers, and struggleswith an image of gay people he senses is wrong but can’t, in the beginning of his intellectualawareness of who he is, prove otherwise. Michael’s responses are shaped by the quality anddiscursive pattern of his stigmatizers. Michael does not see this, or at least does not refer tothis. He expresses his struggle more as an example of opposition to and endurance of theirpointing out his difference.In the previous chapter I mentioned the lack of political awareness that might unveil thevested interests, the narrow indoctrination of specific values, and the casual brutalitiessanctioned by an education system insistent that such values be instilled. The same political“gap11 illuminates Michael’s view that he deflected the formative purpose of the school. It alsocasts light on the other participants’ assumption that, by finding in self-knowledge a140comfortable resort, they avoid the oppressive “finger-tap” of identity. This political gap is acentral point of my research. Whether discussing if schools influence students or theirunderstanding of identity formation in schools, the subjects seldom raise their sights on theinstitutional dimensions and objectives of schools.My point is not to diminish the personal drive Michael esteems or tarnish the achievementof his identity. My intent is to respond to the last excerpt, which raises a question of howresistance, thwarting, and inciting new discourses are facilitated when those who instigatethese processes are substantially unaware they are occurring, and thus of the possibilities thataccompany them.Michael had an idea of what possibilities existed. He stridently denounced racism, sexism,misogynism, and saw in his denunciation the power that came with labelling others. Othersubjects also saw possibilities. Zachary’s insight came from actual experience. In fact hisentire “story” of schooling is unique to this group of participants, and merits inclusion in thelast category highlighting differences in school experience though not necessarily in discourse.Brent “accompanies” Zachary but for a different reason. Brent’s school difficulties early onstemmed from racial discrimination, not assumptions of “dubious” gender.3.5 Varieties of Difference in Schooling and Identity Formation: The Cases of Zachary andBrentZacharyZachary, 20, not having reason to hide his sexuality, does not have to consider whatstrategies may lie in new discourses and personal resistance. His school experiences wereunusually positive. He was regularly invited by counselors and teachers to address classes onhomosexuality. Most students of whatever sexuality were supportive and curious. However,Zachary does not distinguish between the school he attended and the school as an institution.141He does not conceptualize the school as a crucible of identity, but rather as a location whereexposure to curricular details occurs. This is so even though he contrasted his schoolbackground with that of lesbians he knows, and is fully aware they were impugned in ways henever had to deal with.When I inquired how he might explain identity Zachary said it was being honest, that itmeant “opening up and . . . being yourself.” Identity is therefore a lived experience, not justa category of mind. This is very important to Zachary. Confirmation of who he is comes fromhis experiences. One in particular was salient in identity acknowledgement as a naming act.Zachary met an older man one day and after hours of conversation they had sex. This wasnot Zachary’s first sexual experience, but it was the first time he gave his real name. It wasof “coming out” signification. “It was . . . the first time I came out to somebody and used myreal name with somebody I had met . . . . I can remember the date.” I refer to this experienceto feature the omissions of school curricula and the consequent gaps of subjectivity in schools.The event raises issues about sexuality that an education system interested in authenticgrowth of its students should welcome. The relationship between fantasizing and expressingidentity, between imagining and inventing oneself, between being labelled and naming oneself,is compelling. But the questions arising from this relationship are the kinds of questions notconsidered in school.An educational ethos shines through the expectations of the people highlighted in this study.They want schools to lighten intellectual darkness. When they see contradictions between theirown and others’ lives, and the contradictory depictions of these same lives in curricula, theyare outraged and frustrated. They cannot understand why schools would exclude them, whohave knowledge that might break down sexual superstition and bigotry. What they do notunderstand, as well, is precisely what persuades them that enlightenment is an educationalideal.Rather than contemplate that schools do not want to educate in this way, the subjectscondemn school personnel for not living up to the school’s supposed ideal. Without political142awareness of the discourse of social institutions and their socializing mandate, analysis ofschooling yields only frustration and anger. Participants understand that they hide theiridentities from peers and adults, but don’t understand as clearly why they conceal them.Brent’s tale presents an ironic turn in this consideration. He knows that he hides fromfamily and friends, that in elementary school children barred him from their play because ofhis skin colour. The irony is that Brent separates gender and race, thereby removing what formany others is an important source of political and social insight, the relationship of differentprejudices to a common hegemonic imposition. Brent therefore provides an interesting anddifferent outlook on difference.Brent: Race and Sexuality as Separate JourneysFor some people identity is an interior quality, best nurtured alone and free of externaldemands. Brent, 19, believes this, but still acknowledges the role of exterior circumstances indeveloping identity. The interior-identity relationship, therefore, cannot be understood andlived in an environment that insists upon compliance with views and behaviours not believedin by students.I think being alone .. . nurtures my identity ... . you don’t have to put on an act. Youdon’t have to pretend . . . . I had an identity in high school, but . . . it was not myidentity, it was . . . the identity of expectations- - of teachers, of fellow classmates andfriends . . . . I just went through high school knowing a lot of people and having a lotof friends, but not any real friends, because no one knew who I was . . . . No one knewwho I was totally.Lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are not the only students who feel bogus in schools, buttheir search for outlets and supportive institutions is a more precarious ordeal than that facedby heterosexual students. Institutional support is sparse, even today with all the strides in gayand lesbian rights. Looking for them entails a bit of risk, and a great deal of selfacknowledgement and assertiveness.The precariousness of Brent’s search might have been compounded by the racism he143experienced. “In elementary school I never went out for recess or lunch . . . . because I’d getspat on or get rocks thrown at me . . . you know, parents told their children not to play with mebecause I was [sic] brown.”Despite this experience, Brent does not connect racism with sexuality. Hecompartmentalizes them. The directly racist part of his life occurred when he was a child.Racism still exists, but not for him. His identity project presently is homosexuality. Thispresents an interesting dichotomy. Brent suggests he can work on different aspects of hisidentity discretely, as if the larger sociopolitical context does not intrude on his effort.Whereas Michael detects racism in his society and aligns himself with those he thinks aresimilarly oppressed, Brent says “I right now am dealing with my homosexuality. I don’t thinkthere is any problem with the racism aspect of it. Sure, I see it out there and it bugs the hellout of me, but I don’t think my being brown is a . . . minority.” For Brent, the great racialbattle is over to this extent: it no longer impedes his life, his identity is strong, and identityformation is a highly personal journey. As he says, identity is best nurtured in solitude, whereit won’t be battered by the expectations of peers or, presumably, school practices.Brent’s understanding of identity inverts the other participants’ interpretations. They seeidentity as a buttress against a demeaning world. Brent wants to live his identity, but theidentity itself is kept close in a strict harbouring of self-knowledge, social awareness, andpersonal ambition.However, to say that who we are is among the most personal realizations we will have doesnot mean, says Brent, that schools should do nothing to assist gay and lesbian students. Heunderstands the value of groups in creating cohesion among their members. And that groupsproject images that counter prohibiting and censuring meanings. He thinks there should beclubs in schools for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. “I think there is a necessity because in highschool . . . I went through thinking that I was the only . . . gay person in my whole school . .I wanted to portray . . . myself . . . you didn’t really see that portrayal in schools, so . . . Ithought I was alone, all alone.” Brent says later in the interview he is convinced that at least144in the school he attended, and in the schools he is aware of, such clubs will never exist.Brent is matter-of-fact about the state of affairs for gay and lesbian students. He knowsthe loneliness and the isolation of an identity so disparaged it cannot be referred to publicly.At the beginning of the chapter I cited Jeffrey Weeks’ linkage of identity to socialrelationships. I said that identity is tested, adapted, probed, discovered, and invented throughrelationships.Most participants associate school with the obstruction of their identity formation. This isnot explicitly stated, but the association is in their accounts of students’ or teachers’ anti-homosexual deeds perpetrated or ignored, and of curriculum deliberately derogatory of allsexuality but heterosexuality. When Brent says he “chose to find an identity after high school,”he intimates not only that we consciously search, invent, and name our identities, but also thatwe may choose not to find one.Schools penalize choice that defies the sexual ideology of heterosexism. But if Brent’s beliefthat we can choose not to choose is accurate, the penalty is more severe yet. Presence, even ifoppositional, possesses its own documentation. To be compelled not to choose is the counterpartof being a shadow, an island, an apparition before one’s peers and perhaps the world. Thissubjectivity demands self- renunciation.3.6 AnalysesIdentity and Empowerment in the SchoolThe literature on identity in gay and lesbian studies often focuses on the dynamics ofacknowledging to oneself and others a same-sex preference. Works by Vivienue Cass (1979,1984), DeCecco and Shively (1984), Harry (1984), Weinberg (1978), Troiden (1989), and Herdt(1989) plot a trajectory of social and personal change. Their main investigative interest is inwhen individuals begin thinking they are lesbian or gay and how they come to terms with145themselves.As social attitudes have shifted, so have there been changes in when a person acknowledgesa lesbian or gay identity, the criteria by which one comes to self-disclosure, and the availabilityof support, social, and counselling groups to ease the way for those distressed by theirrealization.At this stage of gay/lesbian social visibility, questions and theories about identity haveadded to the coming-out literature. A greater attention to the complex interplay of lifeexperience, social knowledge, and self-awareness, in multifaceted situations, is now possible.For example, DeCecco and Shively explore the meanings and implications of homosexualrelationships. Gilbert Herdt’s view of sexual identity is of a social construct roaming on asexually experimental voyage mediated by cultural expectations. Vivienne Cass writes on howwe synthesize identity by resolving contradictions among our various identities. And RichardTroiden believes in a socially constructed identity, characteristic (especially) of adolescence,based on scripts. We acquire sexual scripts, he says, that foster or weaken sexual self-awareness.From all this interplay come the criteria of identity. However, the interplay experiencedin school is a minefield. And this is where this thesis fits in the broader investigation oflesbian/gay experience, supplementing the coming-to-terms-with psychological studies ofhomosexuals. Schools are significant places for homosexual youth because they are normativeinstitutions expressly established to foster some attitudes, habits, and behaviours, and to quenchothers. In the pantheon of quenchable categories, homosexuality ranks high.Self-Knowledge and Identity as Mutual ExclusionsIn the accounts and analyses of their school experiences, most of the subjects indicate theirability to withstand anti-gay discourses, but they are wary of identity, of being embodied bya category, and of becoming trapped by it. Their wariness may not be a terrible developmentif it signifies awareness of various identities beyond sexual ones. Steven Seidman (1992) writesthat sexual object-choice is conceptually insufficient to cover the nuances of identity. In their146insistence on communicating the “wholeness” of their lives to their classmates, there is evidenceamong participants of self-knowing beyond sexual interest.All speak of empowerment through hardship. By empowerment I mean naming oneself asgay, lesbian, or bisexual. Self-actualization as empowerment is closely tied to sexual identityfor many of the participants. But self-actualization through growing self-knowledge shouldnot be seen as a set of scripts or a series of choreographed interpersonal relationships despitethe effort of social institutions such as schools to affect identity formation by validating somescripts and suppressing others. Another process may be under way. Troiden, for example, doesnot discuss the “de-acquisition” of meanings. Yet we “unlearn” scripts in the same way we learnthem, and unlearning can be a powerful source of identity development. Furthermore, tounlearn a script does not mean it is replaced by another one.We must contemplate the normalizing value of scripts of prohibition. Scripts name and ‘unname.” Thus are our meanings and self-knowledge “de-acquired,” or are, as Foucault might say,disqualified. And disqualification is not what these subjects have in mind when expressing thetie between sexual identity and empowerment.Developing an identity is a matter of becoming more than of sudden realization. Are scriptsmore important to becoming or realizing? If we emphasize scripts more than the contexts inwhich they develop, we are left theoretically less able to understand how context and itsdiscourse permeate individuals’ understanding and aspirations. Power as an aspirating forceprojected from numerous sources may “confer” agency and undermine it simultaneously, mayfoster individualism and penalize it concurrently. Scripts do not enfold the subtlety of thisoperation of power. What I am discussing here transcends scripts.Foucault theorizes about the complexity of the scripts we adopt and discard, and thepolitical dynamics that underlie what, why, and how we adopt and discard. His notion ofdiscourse encapsulates scripts. In schools, some scripts are obvious and complied with, whileothers- -as expressions of the hidden curriculum- - are screened. Ann refers to behaving incertain ways without knowing why; Michael speaks of a model of outlook and behaviour he147must conform to, but it is the school’s model, not his or other students’. Barry says he loathesschool because its institutional imperatives supersede his, and Louise is willing to tell mewhatever I want to hear about her identity because what she says doesn’t matter anyway.The participants are well aware of scripts. They feel suffocated and extinguished by them.And without the gay/lesbian/bisexual clubs considered by Brent, there are few possibilitieswithin schools for homosexuals to develop their own scripts. While important as bases forritualizing social interactions, scripts do not account for the greater amplitude of discourse.Scrutiny should not stop at scripting identity, but should also descend upon the relationshipbetween power and identity formation. Emphasizing identity as a cognitive result of resolvingcontradictions, for example- -as Cass does- -does not address the conditions which shape, propel,and obstruct the formation of identity. Furthermore, synthesis suggests finality, an evolutionreaching its apogee. Life, however, is rarely so clear or ultimate. Certainly the people I havequoted on identity would not think so. Louise’s elusiveness, Barry’s resistance to beingclassified as anything but human, and Trish’s observation that people have an idea- - howeverdistorted- -of what “gay” is, but have no idea of what it means to be lesbian, all attest tocontestable meanings, searchings, and yearnings. Were students able to contest openly inschools- - if school curricula acknowledged in content, and school authorities permittedexpression of, life’s volatility- - the reactions of this study’s subjects might have been different.Striving to locate themselves in the world might still leave them gasping occasionally for air,but they might not rebuke schools for complicating the experience.Any rebuke must be contemplated in relation to renunciatory subjectivity. Central to thissubjectivity is the signification of homosexuality as exclusion. Schools are political in theways and extent to which they “produce” knowledge that creates and censors. As homosexualyouth strive to retain some sense of agency by blurring their identities, never wanting to befully determined by them, so do they constitute their marginality and their exclusion. Andexclusion becomes the leitmotif of the education system.148Are Politics of Change Possible?Is constituting one’s own marginality a desperate situation from which there is no respite?How might gays and lesbians create a politics of change? Queer Theory suggests possibilities.In de Lauretis’ words,“Queer Theory” conveys a double emphasis- -on the conceptual and speculative workinvolved in discourse production, and on the necessary critical work of deconstructingour own discourses and their constructed silences. (de Lauretis 1991: iv) [Furthermore,]homosexuality is no longer to be seen simply as marginal with regard to a stable,dominant form of sexuality (heterosexuality) against which it would be defined . . . byopposition . .. (p.i)As a conceptual call to arms, Queer Theory incites and directs us to deconstruct. It asks usto do what Michael sees himself doing in labelling misogyny or racism, namely to expose themore accurate social purposes lurking behind benevolent-sounding rhetoric. But Queer Theoryalso compels historical surgery, the unveiling of the history underlying contemporary socialmotives. But Valverde may remind us that this alone does not rid us of oppression. If identityis a basis of challenge to and transformation of school practices, it will be so because ofidentity politics beyond schools that will eventually infiltrate schools. Homosexual studentswill bring insurgent concepts and practices into the schools. Would these dispel the politics ofboundary-setting between social and personal identities?“Identity” is a politically perilous social terrain. The affiliations and social agendasradiating from identity engage opposing politics invasive of identity itself. “Identity” is nolonger conceived as a private domain but is polarized between private and public experiencesof it. People may have private homosexual dispositions and desires, but they are gay or lesbianby virtue of society’s definitions, policies, and politics. Deconstructing the silences ofdefinitions and dispositions necessarily draws people beyond their own lives.What appears as local or individual content is often only the facade of deeper vestedinterests, political alliances, and historically - suppressed alternative ideas and recommendations.When these become visible people perceive themselves as more than individuals bearing a149unilateral burden of “otherness.” Deconstructing thus makes homosexuals “queer,” transformingpersonal identity into social identity.However, social identity may not feel more authentic. Identity is harder to come by when,as for all minoritized groups, homosexuals are hedged by competing yet appealing choices. Tochallenge public misconceptions requires abandoning privacy and invisibility. To beat backthe surge of falsification means as well that, ironically, the nuances of private, personalidentities are abraded into an essentialized social identity, the very thing so many participantsobject to. Homosexuality, even when constructed positively, may be distorted (and distorting).Self-knowledge as a social category of understanding has not yet been as overtly conscriptedinto identity politics, and so it seems more stable and private. However, identity politics- -politics that instigate, and are based on, social defining, and differentiating according to thesedefinitions- - engage state and social forces. Patton refers to Alain Touraine’s distinctionbetween metasocial identity politics and state identity politics (Patton 1993). Metasocialpolitics tout transcending criteria, for example a common humanity, as a foundation foridentity. The state appeals to citizenship and patriotism, expecting such appeals to inspire usbeyond social, professional, geographical, and personal differences and identifications.Schools are state institutions that are also vortices of power. Their functionalist, socializingideology, filtrating through institutional practices, is disguised in normalizing language. Theregularity of practice creates an aura of normalcy around how and what schools teach. But allpractices have justifications. The problem is that “good” reasons underlie every institutionaloperation.The social definitions that tint identity- -that significantly inform and embellish it- -arequietened through curricular defamation. Participants continually cite instances where theywanted to express, or have expressed by others, the full range of homosexual experience.Instead most heard nothing at all, or else nothing positive, about any sexuality butheterosexuality. Curricular silence became personal silence.At the beginning of this chapter I discussed the power of a declaration of selfhood. Schoolpractices hamper the declaration.150151Chapter 4ConclusionRigoberta Menchu, writing of her struggle against the Guatemalan military and of theparallel evolution of her identity as a revolutionary Indian, says “we have kept our identityhidden because we have resisted.” (Menchu 1993: 220) Concealment in this case is necessarybecause resistance imperils lives. (No participant in this research suffered the degradationswitnessed by Menchu, but crimes are committed against homosexuals just for beinghomosexual.) Concealment is a pre-requisite of successful guerilla resistance, but the oppositeequation is supported by many lesbian and gay activists.Visibility is deemed pre - requisite to changing attitudes about homosexuality. In their desireto be discussed and studied in schools, to show the tableaux of their lives to their classmates,the participants in this study endorse the activists’ view.This thesis has explored what associations of school experiences and identity developmentoccur to a group of gay and lesbian youth. They discuss what influence and identity are,ruminate about their own identity development, and consider whether they “affiliate” thisdevelopment with their school experiences. All detect circumstances and attitudes thatdisparage homosexuality and shunt to the periphery all serious discussion of it. The subjectsare less unified in concluding whether these detections confirm the intent of schools toinfluence, and whether what they remember counts as evidence of influence.4.1 Are Schools Influential?Andre, for example, believes schools are not influential. He believes they have a simplefunctionalist purpose: to teach facts straightforwardly. Sean inclines more towards Andre’s152view than the others’. Cohn, who wants school curricula to incorporate teachings onhomosexuality, assumes schools can influence; why else would he want to include in thecurriculum lessons on lesbians and gay men? However, Cohn excludes himself as one whocould be influenced. After all, he remarks, he turned out gay despite the curriculum.Louise disclaims any power to analyze influence because she has nothing to compare it to.Ann and Michael, in a contrary position, see adult imposition of values in school operations.Ann, however, is bitter about it. And Trish inveighs against a regime that does not repudiatebehaviour constituting “otherness,” such that she was forced to deny she is lesbian in a way thatleft her disgusted with herself. These people, these “others,” have learned to hedge their bets,whether the question is about school influence or about identity.Most participants, despite their criticism of schools for making them invisible, tacitly acceptthe ideology of the education system. The subjects believe in a system that fosters, encourages,enlightens, and enables its students. They believe in this system both as an ideal and as arealistic appraisal of what schools do. They do not consider that a schooling ideology, heavilybased on a binary understanding of gender that relentlessly counterpoises masculinity andfemininity, male and female, and hetero/homosexual, requires the very invisibility and silencethey detest.Invisibility and silence, however, do not fully represent the stipulations of normalizinglogic. To establish heterosexuality as normal, homosexuality must exist as a countervailing butreviled sexuality. Silence about “abnormal” identities and behaviours is compelled in schools,but as a constituting force that “names” what must never be expressed. In such circumstances,what seems benign and apolitical is in fact highly political. Cohn’s simple effort to put up aposter about a youth group, which to him is compatible with the school’s efforts to fostertolerance, is thus transformed into a political act that must be stopped by school personnel.Cohn unwittingly transgresses the boundary between something so vile it cannot be cited- -though we all know what “it” is- - and “normal, healthy” sexuality. Cohn mistakes the face valueof a discourse of inclusion for the underlying purpose of schooling. Most participants make153the same mistake. Their mistake is partly based on not knowing the dynamics of normalization.Establishing a norm demands accepting the idea of a norm. This is the conundrum of schoolstructure that participants grapple with. They want schools to “police” slurs and reprimandharassment aimed at them. But the subjects understand the harassment mostly as isolatedincidents, not ones facilitated by assumptions of gender normalcy that ‘inform’ schoolcurricula, especially sex education. They expect an institutional response to protect themwithout realizing the provocations are themselves institutionally protected.Subjectivity does not equate with producing automatons. It refers to the de facto collusionof individuals in the incessant enactment of power. Subjectivity does not depend on sexualdifferentiation explicitly to “shape” subjects, but a discourse of normalcy is the particularmedium through which subjectivity is developed. To most participants, the discourse appearedtotal, unreasonable, and unbreachable.Not all subjects experienced slurs and intimidation. Zachary received support from somefaculty and counselors and also from other students. He spoke often in his school and othersin his hometown. But his was an isolated case compared to the other subjects.When discussing school influence in chapter 2 I suggested that singular instances of calumnyagainst people characterized as “other,” become examples of institutional exclusion when suchexamples are not repudiated by the education system. Zachary’s positive experience in hissenior high school year, however, does not represent the inverted example: disregardinginstitutional ideology in particular situations is not equivalent to negating institutional intent.While such disregard may cause some people to rethink their sexual values and commitment toparticular norms, it does not nullify the concept of a norm itself. Thus individual exceptionssuch as Zachary’s are easily enveloped by a larger set of purposes.These purposes, notwithstanding how they are enforced, are, at least in these thirteen cases,not completely achieved. The participants’ identities remain intact. Indeed, all refer to theirpersonal strength as a derivative of what they have endured in silence. This brings to mindJudith Butler’s point that to be constituted by discourse is not to be determined by it. Agency154is not foreclosed by virtue of a constituted subjectivity (Butler 1990). The subjects do notusually realize this, which explains their “flight” to self-knowledge from identity, which theythink is a conceptual straightjacket.And agency, although not so specifically mentioned in the interviews, is what theinterviewees want. They want to be respected as people and as homosexuals. Such respect ismore than personal; it also cherishes how intellect, desire, values, sexuality, and genderconsolidate into identity.In our culture, possessing identity is a premise of belonging, of knowing the world andbeing known in it. Identity is expressed as a powerful naming act, a self-induction into theworld and into life. School experience impaired the induction of the subjects by politicizingand endangering the “naming,” and by disguising the politicization and endangerment as aneffort to foster mental health and normal sexual attitudes.On the other hand, “naming” that is coherent and free of duress is not what the subjects arelooking for. Coherence does not imply seamless harmony. Coherence and dissonance oftencoexist. The lesbians and gays I interviewed are uncomfortable with identity that comes withcoherence. By this I do not mean their specific identities, but rather the idea of identity. Theirquandary is they want to be known in the world, to “live” the identities they have named. Butin a world still prone to constituting demonology and deviance, and thus to penalizing demonsand deviants, living an identity means jeopardizing oneself. And in a world that formallyeducates its young in schools, the normalizing school entrenches the hazard.Thus, once the participants’ exasperation with teachers or counselors is expressed, theiranger still percolates, but often without direction. They respond by exercising whatever powerthey have, which is to avoid being classified in the hardened casing of “identity.” Yet it isprecisely identity- -sexual identity- - that schools want to influence.Self-knowledge impresses the participants as a more reliable premise of both self-awarenessand self-protection than that provided by identity. But self-knowledge in this case assumesontological integrity beyond social and educational discourse on gender, sexuality, and what155counts as personal knowledge. Such freedom is illusory.The participants strongly desire to affirm their own values and understandings, but notarrogantly. They favour open discussions about sexuality, including homosexuality, but realizethese rarely occur. Since they believe schools exist to educate (which meaning some assume isto “enlighten”), they grapple to understand this silence. As they contend with compulsoryheterosexuality, they blur the importance of identities in their lives. Thus do they constitutetheir own exclusion so as not to be trapped by it.156PostscriptPast and FutureGay and lesbian youth, until recently, have not been an easily reachable source of data.Isolated and uncertain in their efforts to present themselves to the world, many teens hid fromfamily members and friends. Many still do. However, across North America youth groups andcounselling programs have gradually drawn young lesbians and gays into their orbit, and mediaexpressive of and produced for homosexuals are now available. It is therefore easier now toinvestigate the lives of lesbian and gay youth.Schools are not renowned for their openness to researchers, and certainly not to thoseresearching homosexual teenagers. What research into schools and homosexuals has been donehave concentrated on the latter’s social isolation and feelings of difference (Hunter &Schaecher 1987), on how homosexuality is depicted in sex and health curricula (Whatley 1991),and on the silence about homosexuality in the curriculum (Rofes 1989; Trenchard & Warren1985). Other works have investigated high school students’ (negative) attitudes abouthomosexuals (Price 1982), and the necessity of special schools for lesbians and gays (Green1991; Uribe & Harbeck 1991).Additional research explores the gamut of attitudes about homosexuality among schoolguidance counselors (Sears 1988), educators (Sears 1991), and prospective teachers (Baker 1980).Identity formation is discussed by Troiden (1979) and Cass (1979; 1984) as a series ofdevelopmental stages through denial! confusion! resistance to general acceptance. Hetrick andMartin (1987) also discuss identity, but not the psychology of its developmental stages. Theyare interested instead in social identity development in a stigmatizing environment.This thesis builds on what these and others have examined in Gay and Lesbian Studies,taking in another direction studies of difference and how homosexual youths cope with their157differences.Identity as discussed here is not the psychological workings of “coming out,” nor is it aboutbecoming socially able to live in a frequently discounting world. This discussion inquires intowhat the participants understand identity to mean, and whether school experience informstheir understanding. This research is about identity formation and participants’ interpretationsof how and why the formation occurred. Because the formation discussed here is specific toschooling, this work unites two themes that are usually addressed separately.Although this study does not test a theoretical premise, it benefits from various vibranttheoretical analyses, such as those of social institutions by Michel Foucault, of compulsoryheterosexuality by Adrienne Rich, and of Goffman’s writings on stigma and identity.Future InquestsThe most interesting area of future study is most likely impossible for some time: anethnography of openly gay and lesbian students in schools, and perhaps of teachers using antihomophobic techniques and materials. However, other ventures are possible. As morehomosexuals speak openly about themselves, their interpretations of their school lives becomemore accessible to researchers.Other lines of inquiry include homosexual students’ interpretations of school culture,investigating whether homosexual youths think sexuality contextualizes knowledge differentlythan is true of non-homosexual youths, and whether lesbians and gays think they experiencelife differently from their heterosexual counterparts.Brent’s experience introduces racism and sexuality as intertwined strings of investigation.Does one factor intensify the social judgment of the other? For instance, if one is assumed tobe, or is known to be, gay, does this increase racist ideas and sentiments? Does fitting into onecategory more easily lead to ascription of the other, in a sense binding together categories“worthy” of discrimination? Similar questions might be asked of gender and sexuality, and alsoof ethnicity and sexuality.158My suggestions indicate my academic and intellectual interest in “prospecting’ whether andhow identity may intertwine with perceptions of experience and epistemological statementsabout the world.159AppendixA list of the structured interview questions may be of interest to the reader. It offers abroader exposure to the range of topics and ideas considered in the interviews as a whole.1. Can you relate episodes or experiences from your school experience that indicateofficial enforcement of a specific view of sexuality and gender?2. Who, among the students, teachers, and administrators, were involved in theseepisodes, and in what way(s)?3. Do you think schools set out to teach and enforce standards of gender andsexuality? If so, are these ideas antagonistic to all but heterosexual norms?4. How would you explain tolerance and openness? Were the high schools youattended examples of tolerant and open environments?5. Was homosexuality dealt with in your classes? If so, in what context, and withwhat effect(s) among students?6. Is schooling influential in the development of identity? If not, is this for lackof intent by the education system?7. How would explain self-knowledge; identity?8. Do you equate teachers’ behaviour with the school’s educative intentions?1609. Describe the interactions of the student body in your school. Were there cliques?If so, based on what differentiating criteria?10. Was the student body in your high school ethnically, economically, or raciallydiverse? If yes in any sense, did the diversity contribute to, detract from, orremain irrelevant to, the degree of tolerance and openness of the schoolenvironment?11. If your school was tolerant, was it equally so on all grounds, or were someattitudes and behaviours accepted more than others?12. Were you tout in high school? 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