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“Queer”ing Identities: Agency and Subversion in Canadian Education

Author(s): Walker, Rachel Loewen

Journal: Canadian Online Journal of Queer Studies in Education
ISSN 1710-7598

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: education | youth | queer theory | education | heteronormativity

The education system has an amazing potential to transform the social structure of heterosexism because it directly affects the formation of ideology and identity in those children who eventually become our adult population of decision-makers. In order to effectively transform the deep-seated national imaginary of heteronormativity we must approach our education system with a committed and broad base. This base must include: an evaluation of the roles that systems of oppression play in maintaining heteronormativity; the analysis and elimination of the language that feeds this oppression and of course; the creation and imagining of practical education methods and activities which are truly transformative in their challenge to existing heterosexism. A key component of transformation is human agency, and in this case, queer agency. Queer youth represent a subversive identity in comparison to the national “heterosexual imaginary” and it is through their occupation of this sphere that they are capable of presenting both an alternative identity, and a threat to the stability of the national identity. The “performance of queer” is a useful tool in education systems to challenge preconceived notions of gender, and it is this performativity that serves as the absolutely necessary vision and strategy in creating an effective formula for the much-needed transformation of heteronormative education in Canada.

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