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ERIC Number: ED525666
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 149
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1244-6890-7
Homophobia in Secondary Schools: An Investigation of Teachers' Perceptions of Homophobia through a Collaborative Professional Development Program
Jones, Joseph R.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Rochester
According to Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, GLSEN, (2003), 84% of GLBT students experienced homophobic remarks or verbal harassment and of those, 91.5% reported hearing the word "faggot" or "dyke" on a regular basis, and over 60% felt unsafe in their schools because of their sexual orientation. More recently, several middle school students committed suicide as a result of being harassed because of their sexual orientation. In October of 2010, a Rutgers University freshman committed suicide after being bullied because of his sexual orientation (GLSEN, 2010). These incidents and others attest to the problem of homophobia in schools and classrooms. Because homophobia is a rampant problem in schools and because scholars suggest that professional development is a viable avenue for addressing homophobia, this research study examines teachers' perceptions of homophobia as obtained through their participation in a professional development program about homophobia. The eight participants were from diverse backgrounds, had different educational levels, and had different numbers of years of teaching experience. Their content areas were English, music, history, art history, math, and physics. The age range for the participants was 32 to 54. This study used a qualitative methodology to analyze teachers' perceptions of homophobia. Study findings suggest that these teachers are unaware of the extent of the problem of homophobia in schools. Participants also believe that there is a false tolerance in schools concerning different sexual identities. Further, teachers in this study discuss homophobia by constructing binary oppositions about sexual identity. Specifically, they discuss the sexual identity of gay males in terms of masculine identities and feminine identities. Also, participants discuss how certain language uses (although homophobic) may be appropriate within their classrooms and schools because of their self-constructed binary oppositions. These binary oppositions dictate how they define homophobia in their schools. The study suggests several implications for addressing homophobia in schools. One implication of this study is that teachers should be made aware of the problem of homophobia. Second, teachers need to examine the reality of heterosexism in their schools and classrooms through reflective practices. Third, because society defines sexuality through binary oppositions, it may be beneficial for teachers to view homophobia outside of binary constructions in order to recognize how heterosexism functions in their schools. Finally, another implication is that administrator support is vital in combating homophobia in classrooms and schools. Specifically, school administrators must recognize how homophobia affects schools and classrooms and begin developing school-wide initiatives to address the problem. In doing so, such support provides avenues for teachers to effectively combat heteronormativity in their classrooms. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A