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Queering the body’(s) politic? : GSAs, citizenship and education Macintosh, Lori B.

Abstract

This qualitative study deals largely with exploring the role of GSAs in schools. The analysis asks why sexual minority youth and allied heterosexual youth are the primary resource for educating their peers, faculty members, administrators, school boards about issues homophobia in schools. Related to this, the thesis also takes up the issue of the school as a heteronormative space, and subsequently asks how heteronormative structures affect student understandings of citizenship curriculum, learning, and social change. The data consists of three individual interviews, and one group interview. In total there were six participants, four female, two male, of varying sexual orientations. All participants were youths between the ages 15-18; all were students in the Lower Mainland, and all were active members of their school's GSA. Queer theory and poststructural theory form the theoretical infrastructure of the study. Drawing from both theatrical frameworks, this study attempts to bridge the perceived gap between theoretical representations and applied, qualitative based analysis in the hopes of opening up a more fluid avenue of inquiry. By way of conclusion I suggest that while beneficial to individual students, GSAs have become a "band-aid" solution for the systemic problem of homophobia in schools. I also argue that GSAs ought not be the only mechanism through which GLBTQI education and pedagogies of inclusion are fostered. Further to this, I recommend that a reconceptualized understanding of citizenship discourse, inclusive of communities, belonging, and personal responsibility would offer productive avenues to engage with heteronormativism, and other normalizing mechanisms within the school environments.

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