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Pedagogies of censorship, injury, and masochism: teacher responses to homophobic speech in physical education

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I examine how physical education teachers respond to homophobic name-calling, as revealed in life history interviews with 'lesbian', 'gay', and 'heterosexual' teachers in Canada and the USA. Censoring homophobic name-calling in schools is discussed as an important, but insufficient, response. Several 'lesbian' and 'gay' teachers responded with pedagogies of injury; that is, they recalled their personal experiences of homophobic language to teach students not to use words such as 'fag', 'dyke', and 'queer'. I examine why some teachers were prepared to risk further personal injury in order to prevent injury to other students. In addition to rational and conscious explanations, I speculate that an unconscious masochistic imperative may also animate this approach to anti-homophobic education. Ultimately, I ask what is demanded from teachers if this type of anti-homophobic teaching is animated by what has been called an attachment to subjection.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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