Bruce Parker

Seeking my history... Seeking myself...

Filed By Bruce Parker | December 09, 2005 4:05 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: education policy, homophobic behavior, LGBT history

Social Studies curriculum in public school erase the existence of queer people. Some small progress has been made in represenatations of women and racial minorities, however we still just don't exist. The damage this does to kids who understand themselves to be gay or are trying to answer the question of their sexuality is clear and present in educational research literature. The scholars have spoken my analysis isn't needed in this vein.

Anyone who has been in schools know that there exists a hidden curriculum of heteronormativity, gender appropriateness, and homophobia. This is in the hallways, locker rooms, and parking lots. Childern learn lessons that frame and reframe how they understand themselves, the world, and the knowledge presented to them in their formal classroom curriculums. Who among us doesn't remember feeling a little awkward with some part of highschool particularly if you were out or knew that you had a queer attraction.

It is also noted and largely true that those who struggle the most with queer issues tend to be the least educated Americans. If you doubt this claim look at the anti-gay posts that have been showing up on this site - grammar is clearly not their strength. However, we have to blame ourselves. What have we done to challenge the lessons taught to young queers? What lessons do we teach young queers in schools? There is some serious work to be done on making sure that history is told in its complexity to all Americans.

Thanksgiving is about togetherness, Columbus was friends with the Native Americans, and the Civil War was to end slavery right? Right? RIGHT? We are a country built on oppressing other people. We go to great lengths to ignore this. As a teacher of future teachers, I focus on responsibility... Incomplete education is an act of violence.

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Years ago, I won a student journalism award for an article I wrote on this very topic: black people at least have family and shared history to get them through the oppression they face as a minority; but we are at sea without even those as life preservers.


Although on the surface, I'd have to disagree with the idea that lgbt folks do not have family or a shared history to help them weather their oppression; I'd really like to read the article you wrote. Maybe, if you still have it, you'd consider posting it on your blog?it?

Great post Bruce! I agree w/ Steph. GLBT youth (especially) in rural communities find themselves very isolated and alone when they come out.

I'm not trying to speak for Steph, nor have I read her article. However, I think I understand her to mean that it is easier to identify friend from foe as a minority defined by race. As a GLBT person you are never quite sure - "Gaydar" isn't 100% accurate, and I can attest that you cannot always count on your family to be on board with your sexual orientation.

I understood Steph's point to be a little different. I believe that the queer community is often isolated from our biological families and the majority of straight folks. This is unique to our communities in that blacks are seperated from whites by hate and privilege however they find solace in each other and tend to be successful at uniting.

We tend to not be as successful at coming together. Often outcasting each other based on issues of politics, appearance, social class, or identity. As a member of the trans community and a representative from INTRAA, I can certainly see how it is difficult at times to find a place within queer world.

I was asking Steph for more input (asking to read her article—very cordially, I will add;-)) in order to better understand what connection her article made with "how black people at least have family and shared history to get them through their (queer)oppression."

As for my comment that queer folks do have family and a shared history to help them weather their oppression… I'll just say that I always thought one of our community's strengths was the ability to create new family when our family-of-origin is not as supportive as we need them to be. It's also true that ordinary queer folk are also getting much better with outreach to our youth as are other networks…IYG, student groups, internet access, PFLAG all come to mind. Too, availability/access to our shared history is getting hugely better. It's much more available in every genre; it's discussed online, read about in magazines and books, and viewed in movies (can't wait to Brokeback Mountain) and television.

Bruce, about this outcasting thing... No, on second thought maybe that's best left for another day ;-)