Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In this three-article dissertation, I attempt to contribute to an understanding of what it might look like to heal the harms caused by heteronormativity in school climates. I first present a theoretical piece, "Toward a Queered Democratic Framework: Moving Theory into Practice," in which, using post-structural and queer theories, my aim is to supplement ideas from participatory democratic theories, and to name and explore what I am calling a Queered Democratic Framework (QDF). Throughout this article, my intention is to establish a line of communication between participatory democratic theories and post-structural and queer theories. I make the case that these two theories, together, will advance our understandings of, and actions to eradicate, oppression. Together, they will move us beyond identity politics, beyond multicultural education and an additive model of inclusion, to more of a focus on habits of mind and heart that push on traditional conceptions of difference.
In the second article, "Tilling the Soil for LGBTQ Inclusive Policies: Learning Lessons from Desegregation to Cultivate Communities of Safety and Inclusivity," In this article, I argue that policies focused on equity cannot be expected, in and of themselves, to overcome social ills that are obstacles to their implementation (Wells et al, 1997). Drawing on lessons from Brown v. Board, I maintain that working for social change requires relying on all members of the school community: administration, teachers, parents and students (Wells et al, 1997). In this article, I share descriptions of interventions focused on gender and sexual diversity, illustrations of what happened in each, and reactions of all stakeholders. I offer this model as an example of what it might look like to queer the implementation of a policy like FAIR and to till the soil--to cultivate community with the intention of healing harms caused by heteronormativity and to create safety and inclusivity.
In my final article, Navigating the relationship between policy and practice: Competing discourses of fear and care in teachers' sense making about the FAIR Education Act, I take a step closer in, and spend time focusing on teachers. I examine the relationship between large-scale social discourses and local, school discourses as it plays out in their conversations about gender and sexuality. Grounded in concepts of discourse, silence and power, discursive theories of gender and sexuality are central (e.g. Foucault, Hall, Butler) to this piece. I examine what happens in professional development settings when teachers are given opportunities to make sense of their roles in attending to topics of gender and sexual diversity, through conversations and dialogue, specifically in the context of the passage of FAIR. I argue that examining this relationship provides key insights into the ways teachers make sense of equity-focused policies that are meant to shift sociopolitical paradigms, and their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of such policies.
Leonardi, Bethy, "Tilling the Soil for LGBTQ Inclusive Policies: A Case Study of One School's Attempt to Bring Policy into Practice" (2014). School of Education Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 39.