For many undocumented youth, the end of high school and transition to adulthood is the first time they grapple with being undocumented. Given the negative social stigma attached to being undocumented, many youth may hesitate to reveal their legal status to a teacher or other school personnel. The purpose of this study was to identify the contexts in which undocumented high school students disclose their legal status to staff in an urban, California public school. It also examined the way educators manage students’ information after learning about their legal status. This study employed ethnographic methods. Observations were conducted in the college and career center and semi-structured interviews were held with undocumented students and educators. Findings indicate four social contexts and circumstances where undocumented students revealed their legal status to adults: within longstanding relationships based on trust, when seeking support, in the course of formal interactions and querying, as well as in informal interactions. The data also demonstrates the uncertainty among educators in the management and protection of students’ information. The findings have implications for practice.


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pp. 88-108
Launched on MUSE
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