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Gay Youth in American Public High Schools: Invisible Diversity.

Reed, Donald B.

Abstract: Gay youth enter high school with the knowledge that they are different and with the belief that heterosexuality is normal and that homosexuality is not normal. Also, gay youth enter high school with the belief that honesty and integrity are important personal values. Additionally, the gay youth enter high school without family knowledge of their sexual orientation and with the fear of family hostility and/or rejection if their sexual orientation should become known to family members. Hence, gay youth largely enter and attend high school alone without support of their differences by adults in their families and with considerable fear and anxiety of denigration and rejection by family members. The organizational context of public high schools provides a highly sexualized environment for youth. The organizational context supports and rewards heterosexualized activities and affirms positive heterosexual beliefs of students. Simultaneously the organizational context denigrates and punishes homosexual activities and affirms negative homosexual beliefs of students. Within the social context of high school, gay youth experience high school as problematic in ways non-gay youth do not. Gay youth manage their public participation in high school by passing and manage their personal conflict by assuming deep guilt. Important among these is the continuous burden of personal shame and its self-destructive consequences. (Contains 29 references.) (ABL)

Title: Gay Youth in American Public High Schools: Invisible Diversity.
Author: Reed, Donald B.
Note: 35p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the University Council for Educational Administration (Minneapolis, MN, October 30-November 1, 1992).
Publication Year: 1992
Document Type: General Report (140); Conference Paper (150)
Target Audience: Practitioners
ERIC Identifier: ED354438
Clearinghouse Identifier: CG024780
This document is available from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service.

Descriptors: * Educational Environment; High Schools; * High School Students; * Homosexuality; Parent Child Relationship; * Public Schools; School Organization; * Social Environment; Student Attitudes

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