Theses Doctoral

By Any Means Necessary: Supporting Black Queer Public School Students in the United States

Johns, David Jermaine

Black Queer students in the United States did not ask to be born into a social world where being both Black and Queer are associated with stigma and marginalized oppression they did not contribute or consent to. Acknowledging that too often, the unique needs of and contributions made by Black Queer public middle and high school students in the United States are absent within research, policymaking, and practice, this dissertation seeks to fill a gap in the existing literature by exploring essential characteristics and features of informal educational programs and activities (IEPAs) from the perspective of Black Queer middle and high school students. Informal educational programs and activities are sites of possibility that have a long history in the African American tradition of learning and development.

IEPAs are supported by public investments at every level of government. Specifically, this dissertation employs a secondary analysis of GLSEN's 2017 School Climate Survey (School Climate Survey) dataset to examine the relative impact of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and demographic variables on how frequently Black Queer public school students attend informal educational programs and activities. Quantitative analysis is enhanced by interviews with Black Queer public middle and high school graduates, split by gender and program participation.

I find that Queer Black youth are more likely to participate in IEPAs when they are older, in urban areas, out to their peers, and in school contexts where they do not feel respected, feel unsafe because of their gender, are subject to policies that preclude bathroom choice, and observe symbols in their schools conveying that they are safe spaces. Some interpersonal and school context factors are significant for trans and non-binary/non-conforming students. I conclude with recommendations for the design of school programs and policies that can enable youth with multiple marginalized identities to thrive.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Pallas, Aaron M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 27, 2022