Abstract

Dominant understanding of LGBTQ students' school experiences has been shaped by discourses that reduce “the problem” to bullies who express homophobic attitudes by targeting LGBTQ peers. In turn, interventions typically focus on eliminating bullying behaviors and providing protection for victims. Within this framework, cultural privileging of heterosexuality and gender normativity goes unquestioned, LGBTQ marginalization is reproduced and re-entrenched in new ways, and schools avoid responsibility for complicity in LGBTQ harassment. This paper explores educators' stories of LGBTQ harassment and how dominant bullying discourses are shaping educators' understandings of the needs of LGBTQ students. We propose a new definition of bullying to create a more useful framework for understanding the social nature of peer-to-peer aggression and designing interventions to address the cultural roots of this aggression. Finally, we take the position that a majority of peer-to-peer aggression in U.S. public schools is some form of gender policing, and we believe bullying must be redefined to account for relationships between peer targeting and structural inequalities.

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