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Learning to Speak Out in an Abstinence Based Sex Education Group: Gender and Race Work in an Urban Magnet School


by Lois Weis & Doris Carbonell-Medina — 2000

This article explores race and gender work done under the auspices of an abstinence based sex education program in an urban magnet school. While it is generally acknowledged that there is not nearly enough sexuality education in schools, that which does exist leaves much to be desired. In these curricula young men are painted as biologically programmed sexual aggressors while women are scripted as passive victims whose only subject position is that of not provoking easily sexually aroused males. In addition, research shows that compulsory heterosexuality is inscribed throughout the school curriculum. Here the author enters as a participant in one such sexuality program and works ethnographically with a voluntarily constituted girls group in an urban magnet school. As part of a larger look at “sites of hope” in urban America, the author focuses specifically on the ways in which this group offers a space within which personal and collective identity work takes place and assesses the extent to which such a space offers a “home” within which social stereotypes are contested and new identities tried on. The implications of such spaces for far reaching social change are explored.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 3, 2000, p. 620-650
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10509, Date Accessed: 12/16/2017 11:30:23 PM

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About the Author
  • Lois Weis
    State University of New York at Buffalo
    E-mail Author
    Lois Weis is Professor of Sociology of Education at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the author and/or editor of numerous books and articles related to social class, gender, race and schooling. Her latest book is The Unknown City: The Lives of Poor and Working Class Young Adults (with Michelle Fine, Beacon Press, 1998).
  • Doris Carbonell-Medina
    State University of New York at Buffalo
    Doris Carbonell-Medina, Esq., is licensed to practice law in New York State and currently runs most of the gender workshops connected with Womanfocus in Buffalo. Her legal expertise consists of civil rights litigation including employment discrimination, police brutality, family law and entertainment law.
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