Institutionalized heteronormativity: a queer look at the curriculum in British Columbia

Date

2017-09-14

Authors

Pavezka, Laura

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Abstract

The primary objective of this thesis is to queerly analyze the Planning 10 curriculum of British Columbia, Canada. ‘Queer’ in this case means the destabilization of identities that are traditionally understood in terms of binaries, and normalized through discourse. The lead research question is: how British Columbia’s Planning 10 curriculum (specifically it’s health component) might serve to reinforce and naturalize heterosexuality in its students and by extension in society by utilizing a combination of both Queer and curriculum theories. By using such an analytical framework, this thesis seeks to provide a multi-theoretical analysis of how sex, sexuality and gender identities are maintained and reinforced by the sex education curriculum in BC, and as such, normalized. This work will complement the recent move within curriculum studies from a modernist, or ‘black box’ understanding of curriculum, with a general focus on goals and objectives, towards a post-modernist and hopefully queer(er) understanding. Through both semi-structured interviews with in-service Planning 10 teachers (and one external educator specializing in sex education), and document analysis of the Planning 10 Integrated Resource Package (last revised in 2007), this research will uncovered queer potential within the curriculum, as well as those discursive constraints that might limit challenge to the heteronormative order. This thesis found that although there is the potential to include queer concepts through silence towards identities within the curriculum, because sex education is not a “teachable subject” in teacher education and a lack of professional development opportunities, teachers are left feeling unqualified, underqualified, and generally uncomfortable with the subject matter. More over, the curriculum document provides an “Alternative Delivery Clause” that pushes sex education into the realm of “sensitive subject matter”. This discomfort is further perpetuated by a number of binaries that remain rigid due to heteronormative discourse and other major narratives, while sex education exists in a grey area between private/public, child/adult, school/home, and state/family.

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Keywords

queer, sex education, sexuality, curriculum, identity, gender

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