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In 2012, a provincial bill amended the Ontario Education Act to provide more focused measures to eliminate bullying on the basis of sexual orientation. Bill 13 specifically requires that students be allowed to establish gay-straight alliances (GSAs), including in the publicly-funded Catholic school system. The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association responded by proposing an alternative policy, called “Respecting Difference,” on the grounds that GSAs run contrary to Catholic teaching. Respect is a complex ethical notion with a long philosophical history. Through an overview of what philosophers from different traditions (including Kant, Buber, Levinas, Hegel, and Rawls) have said about respect, it becomes apparent that the kind of respect that is due to all persons requires recognition, or a willingness to accept the other as a self-identifying subject who is irreducible to my experience. In its discussion of LGBT students, the OCSTA fails to accord them such recognition, even while it emphasizes the meaning of difference. Consequently, there is reason to conclude that it does not truly respect sexual minority students and that it is not fully committed to eradicating homophobia-based bullying in the Catholic school system. “Respecting Difference” declines to heed best evidence about the factors that actually protect LGBT students from bullying, and uses the guidelines for “Respecting Difference” groups as an opportunity to reinforce its pathologization of LGBT identity itself.
As a subject for philosophizing about education, there are few topics as rich and significant as the role of public schools in fostering respect for sexual and religious diversity. The liberal state, it is said, has a clear mission to teach students to respect the rights of others to lead fundamentally different ways of life, and to provide students with the tools needed to make similarly fundamental choices about their own lives. The liberal state must do this, however, without undue or excessive infringement on the rights of children and parents who believe that some common ways of life are, writ large, morally objectionable. This symposium paper features three arguments, each formulated by a different student in education or a related field. The first argues that LGBTQ role models must be provided in schools (through school resources or in person). The second argues that teachers are being placed in a very difficult position when such provision causes controversy with the surrounding community. The third argues that parents must not be given unchecked power over their children’s exposure to LGBTQ role modeling.
Originating in the United States, a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) is an in-school student club whose focus is on making the school a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and their straight allies by raising awareness about, and hopefully reducing, school-based homophobia. The ongoing struggle for GSAs in Canadian Catholic schools is one example of how clashes continue to be played out between Catholic canonical law and Canadian common law regarding sexual minorities. This paper draws upon Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, and The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction to analyze one particularly influential curricular and policy document entitled Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same-Sex Orientation from the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops. This paper posits that Catholic doctrine about non-heterosexuality functions as a Foucaultian Panopticon enabling Catholic education leaders to observe and correct the behaviour of non-heterosexual teachers and students that they deem runs counter to the values of the Vatican. This paper argues that successful resistance to the powerful disciplining regime of the Catholic school is possible.
Populated by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer (LGBTQ) and allied youth, school-based gay straight alliances (GSAs) offer a unique opportunity to re-imagine or redefine youth subjectivity, especially with regards to the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity, and civic rights. Tracing the evolution of youth subjectivity from the emergence of Canadian schooling in the 1860s, I turn to Ontario’s Bill 13 as a recent example of how GSAs are subverting, or resisting these norms, and in so doing, operate as a kind of counter-public. Drawing from Jenks’ (2005) archetypes of the Dionysian and Apollonian child, I assert that GSAs can embody a third type of child subjectivity, the Athenian child (Smith, 2011; 2014) and, in so doing, provide theoretical space to reconstitute subjectivity for all youth.
“Queerly Inside and Out in School ... A Conversation” draws upon the research from See Me, Hear Me ... Queerly Visible: Conversations About Family and School with Non-Heterosexual Parents and Their Children (Keener, 2012) that explored the schooling experiences of non-heterosexual parents and their children in Nova Scotia. Leveraging visual arts and performance as both a means of data generation and data representation, the generated artifacts illustrated how dominant cultural practices and narratives surrounding school and family perpetuate heteronormative ideology, while excluding and silencing non-heterosexual parents and their children. Queer visibility became a re-occurring place of reflection and tension for parents as they re-told their stories of creating a queer family presence in their child’s school. The stories represented within this paper provide a window into the experience of parents and children who on a daily basis run the risk of not being “seen” by their teachers, school administrators, and the broader school community.
Efforts to embed anti-heterosexist curriculum at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) can become confused and contradictory because of the persistent subjection of the student to the curriculum, and by maintaining sex as a subject of danger and prohibition. Examples from the new TDSB anti-discrimination curriculum resource that were perceived as politically controversial in 2011 are briefly assessed with the popular queer(ed) theories of Foucault (1978/1990), Butler (1990; 1993), and Rubin (1984/1993). Deleuze's (1988) interpretation of Spinoza’s work is also plumbed to explain the consequences of heterosexist discourse in schools. The Deleuzian-Spinozan example of the caricatures of the “moralist trinity” shows that heterosexist discourses promote the production of “sad passions” throughout social relationships by creating “sad” characters within each individual. Finally, anti-heterosexist action in schools is described as modelling consent in curriculum and exposing relationships of subjection.
Educational leaders in Ontario’s publicly-funded Catholic schools typically resist establishing Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) on grounds that they contradict Catholic moral teaching and so cause scandal in the school. While the protection of GSAs in these schools is derived from recent provincial legislation, the government intervention has the potential to exacerbate religious-secular tensions in the school and society. This paper assumes that, in the Catholic Church’s current political climate, the only justifications for GSAs that will gain genuine traction and possibly deflate this tension descend from within Catholicism’s own tradition of thought and educational practice. The first part of the argument critiques the Catholic hierarchy’s traditional, narrow conception of scandal, and replaces it with a revised, broader conception from within Catholic theology in which the traditional marginalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students is the true scandal. These two frameworks are used to analyze inconsistencies between the resistance Catholic schools show toward LGBTQ students wanting to establish GSAs, and the welcoming attitude they display toward pregnant and parenting students. The second part of the argument reveals that the main reason for this difference is that Church officials perceive all LGBTQ organizations as threats to their authority, and this perception is extended to GSAs. This internal critique provides sufficient reason to reverse the current negative Catholic evaluations of GSAs.
The term “sexual minority” functions in social, cultural, and political contexts as a catchall for minority sexuality categories. Yet, apart from serving as an umbrella term, its uses are contradictory. On the one hand, the term emphasizes “sexuality,” which serves the purposes of religious fundamentalist and political groups that demonize minority sexualities to the exclusion of identity, background or family status. On the other hand, the term can be useful for readers and researchers in sexuality studies to become more globally aware of, and to reconceptualize, sexuality outside of tightly contained LGBT boxes. Such a contradiction has implications for education practice and policy. We suggest, for instance, using the term cautiously when describing same-sex sexualities because, as an umbrella term, it can homogenize people who represent a highly diverse spectrum of racialized categories, class backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and other social markers of difference. As a pedagogical heuristic device, the term is useful in delineating the differences between queer and sexual minority pedagogies when deciding upon the approach that will best draw an audience into the discussion. Our overall goal through this critical exploration is to support new understandings and insights of sexual diversity in ways that effectively challenge heterosexism and homophobia.
Manitoba’s Bill 18 provides students the legal right to form gay-straight alliance student groups within denominational and dissentient schools. Religious opponents of Bill 18 claim that the law unjustifiably imposes a homogenous moral worldview on religious families. I argue that if we appeal to Will Kymlicka’s comprehensive neutralist theory of political morality to justify Bill 18, the religious complaint is problematically vindicated. I argue that Kymlicka appeals to two bases of neutrality that ultimately fail to distinguish his view from the perfectionist theories of political morality that he officially rejects. Due to this internal inconsistency, the priority of Kymlicka’s preferred moral practices remains unjustified. For those of us who believe that Bill 18 is morally justified, an alternative approach to explaining this intuition is required.
The central notion of my analysis is that the relational values that are privileged by the feminine, if properly addressed in school, could foster a more inclusive and embodied way of addressing the fundamentally masculine origin of knowledge, curriculum planning as well as daily school rituals and cultures. For this reason I evoke the horizon of sense as captured by Irigaray in her two-ness of the world to designate a positive place for feminine subjectivity in the relational economy of the you and I, her and him. The economy of the placenta is evoked as a new form of connectedness enfolding a new kind of communication in a pedagogical interaction - where multiplicities and differences are privileged over sameness. ‘Touch’ is given primacy in the formation of a dialogue that does not appropriate but instead evokes the sharing of a desire in the two-ness of the world.
In this paper I attempt to show how my graduate work in interpretive studies transformed my previous work as a special education consultant. Using Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics, as well as Ivan Illich's notions of iatrogenesis and counter-productivity, I discuss my work with a school team as they struggled throughout a school year with a special education classroom for students with diagnosed mental health disorders.