Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Dalia Rodriguez


Bullying, Critical pedagogy, Heteronormativity, Inclusive education, LGBT students

Subject Categories



This dissertation presents three and a half years of ethnographic data from an “LGBT” charter school. It explores how gender and sexuality appear within educational spaces and how providing students an anti-heteronormative inclusive education impacts a student’s sense of self. I show how critical pedagogy is deployed as an anti-heteronormative approach to supporting all students. The term anti-heteronormative is used to express an explicit rejection of heterosexism and genderism, acknowledging the complex oppressive factors that develop given the normative expectations of gender and sexuality and the impact such expectations have on all bodies and all students. Findings reveal how the juxtaposition of the inclusive space provided by the school and the heteronormative expectations of the outside world collide in complex ways for students. Bullying and challenges to inclusion persist. Critical pedagogy serves to help students assess the meaning bullying has for themselves and others. Likewise the critical pedagogy of the school supports a flexible curriculum and informal spaces that provide students opportunities to explore how they want heteronormativity to impact their lives. The anti-heteronormative approach of the school leads some students to find new ways of being – literally, new ways to exist – in the world.


Open Access

Included in

Education Commons