Council on Anthropology and Education
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
This teacher research (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993) project explores what happened when high school students at an arts-focused charter school, which explicitly strived to create and maintain a queer-friendly context, opted to take a semester-long course focused on LGBTQ- themed literature. This paper focuses specifically on students’ understandings of religion in relationship to sexuality and gender in their lives as represented in class discussions, course writings, and interviews.
This study strives to fill in gaps in the field by being conducted in a classroom and school that actively works to be queer-friendly and by using LGBTQ-themed texts as windows, mirrors, and doors into others’ worlds (Botelho & Rudman, 2009). The course was offered for three semesters across two school years between 2015 and 2016. Video and audio recordings of most class sessions comprise the primary corpus of data. These data are complemented by anecdotal records and field notes, student work, and interviews. Data analysis was and is ongoing, iterative, and recursive. Periodically, data were indexed, then segments were identified for transcription. I have since identified significant themes and coded accordingly. Religion is among these.
Preliminary findings suggest that students, particularly those who identified as LGBTQ, rejected religions that they perceived to reject LGBTQ people, but, for those students who came from families and communities with religious values and commitments, this mutual rejection was experienced as a profound loss, threatening ties to both families and communities. This loss was particularly pronounced for students who were minoritized on racial and religious grounds.