Queering Family Difference to Dispel the Myth of the “Normal” Creating Classroom and School Communities that Affirm All Students and their Families


Mayo, C. & Blackburn, M.V.

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date



Taylor & Francis

Publisher Location

New York, NY

Book Title

Queer, Trans, and Intersectional Theory in Educational Practice Student, Teacher, and Community Experiences



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Preservice and professional development curricula is still woefully inadequate in terms of preparing educators to recognize family difference from an asset perspective, to meaningfully understand family difference, and to pro-actively engage family difference—especially through critical pedagogies, intersectional, trans, and queer pedagogies. Further, dominant or hegemonic definitions of family in PK-12 curricula, as well as in school policies and practices, reflect eurocentric, patriarchal, heteronormative, and gender normative standards as the norm. This chapter analyzes a professional development program aimed at complicating teachers’ understandings of family, using insights from queer/trans-focused intersectional analysis of PK-12 and teacher education. These pedagogies and analyses grounded our critical guiding questions for the session—in which participants engaged individually, in small groups, and in whole group activities—namely: 1) What are the “traditional” dominant narratives about “normal” family dynamics and how might our beliefs around those narratives impact student learning? 2) What makes a family a family? 3) How can schools and educators counter limited definitions of, and deficit assumptions about, students’ families in order to create more educationally welcoming, affirming, and rigorous learning communities in which all students achieve academic excellence? Co-facilitator-initiated problem-posing engaged participants in an exploration of institutionalized and localized educational policies and practices that have in the past framed, and continue today, to frame some families through inferior and other discriminatory lenses.


Education | Gender Equity in Education