Disputing the Subject of Sex: Sexuality and Public School Controversies

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Sexuality remains a hotly debated subject, nowhere more so than in education. This perceptive and balanced book shows that discussions of sexuality and schooling can be simultaneously polarizing and democratizing. Disputing the Subject of Sex examines controversies over sex, AIDS, and gay-inclusive multicultural education, which offer especially fruitful opportunities to explore the claims of various identities, the social aims of public schools, and the relation between schools and the publics they serve. These controversies help to show the kind of confused tumble of discourses, seemingly nonsensical policy decisions, and student resistances that are born of arguments over sexuality and community membership. In part, disputes over sexuality are driven by conservative and anti-pluralist agendas that help communities draw strong lines around themselves in an effort to stave off what they perceive as threatening shifts in gender and sexual identity. However, these disputes are also democratizing, allowing a variety of constituents to argue their case in the public sphere. Rather than choosing between one of these two positions, this book uses case studies, interviews with queer youth, and analysis of curricular texts to help readers understand how power dynamics play out in educational controversies and how they can guide us to new ideas about students' abilities to learn and relate ethically to one another about the subject of sex.

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Editorial Reviews

Mayo provides an in-depth examination of sexuality in public school curricula and school communities. This eye-opening text should be read by all who have a vested interest in not only the institution of education, but also the community. Recommended.
Reference & Research Book News
This is a paperbound reprint of a 2004 book. Mayo analyzes public school curricula controversies concerning sexuality. She applies social constructionism's attention to the interplay of identity, activity, and social context in constituting sexuality to show the institutional limitations on sexual identity expressed through New York State AIDS education and multicultural curricula. She also analyzes the abstinence-only curriculum, Sex Respect , showing how it and similar programs inadvertently publicize sexual identity.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cris Mayo is assistant professor in the educational policy studies department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Sexuality and Theory Chapter 3 Cautions on the Subject Chapter 4 Identity and the Monolithic Community Chapter 5 The Adolescent as Abstinent Heterosexual Chapter 6 Local Values and the Open Closet Chapter 7 The Abstinence Oath and Secondary Virginity Chapter 8 Conclusion: Ethical Curiosity, Spaces, and Associations: School-Based Gay and Straight Alliances

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