- Editor’s Note: Queering Art Education
Before beginning, I would like to acknowledge that there are difficult dialogues ahead. At the end of the second decade of the 21st century, almost 3 years into an executive administration in the United States that has failed to reinforce some protections while dissolving other protections for LGBTQ+ communities, art education has a long way to go in affirming the experiences and the lives of our teachers, students, communities, and school families.
According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey, “only 19.8% of LGBTQ students were taught positive representations about LGBTQ people, history, or events in their schools; 18.4% had been taught negative content about LGBTQ topics” (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018, p. xxii). Alarmingly, the percentage of students who reported seeing positive representations in schools has dropped since GLSEN’s last survey in 2015 (Kosciw, Greytak, Giga, Villenas, & Danischewski, 2016, p. xx). The findings of this study demonstrate that schools with more inclusive curricula have lower student-reported rates of bullying and harassment. This statistic and others from GLSEN’s survey demonstrate a strong need for more supportive curriculum in schools, communities, and museums.
Educators might consider how their curricula perpetuate specific voices and narratives at the expense of others. What message is the content they share sending to students? How often do teachers show their students LGBTQ+ artists? Why do teachers often erase the identities of LGBTQ+ artists when sharing them in the classroom (Lampela, 2005)? Ledo (2017) considers the narratives that are perpetuated [End Page v] in classrooms to be part of “a hidden heteronormative curriculum” (p. 5). As a result of changes to the content they share with students, participants, and museumgoers, art educators can challenge the heteronormative curriculum and disrupt notions of what art is supposed to be and do, and who it is made by and for.
Part of the struggle for LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in schools is that “there has historically been a fear of queerness in education” (Greteman, 2017, p. 196). The oversexualization of queerness has made it difficult to foster support of LGBTQ+ issues in education. Many educators view LGBTQ+ issues as inappropriate or impossible to teach about, especially in public schools where teachers are pressured to focus on standards of learning. Addressing sexuality is “a hard thing to do at a time when art educators are pressured to structure their curricula on formal principles, making emotional and social content an addendum to the main (formalist and technical) agendas” (Gude, 2003, p. 5). The reality is educators are potentially doing harm to their students by not showing them representations of LGBTQ+ lives in what they teach. Check (2004) argues that “we don’t have to choose between color wheels and social issues—both are necessary” (p. 181). And, as the field of art education expands into community and museum spaces, so should our intent to queer those spaces as well.
So I would like to present to you an issue of VAR dealing explicitly with some of the complexities of Queering Art Education at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. Articles selected for this issue include a historical analysis of queer film festival posters (Huth); two conversational works about Blackness and queerness (Grant); queer dialogues on illness and disability (Bradshaw & Ria; Attias); perspectives on what working in a queer affirming space does for a pedagogical, queer body (Yang and Hsieh; Kletchka, Acuff, Morris, Sanders, & Savage) and the antithesis of that (Manning); and a chronological history of a decade-long queer performance at the annual conference for the National Art Education Association (Sanders, Rhoades, Cosier, & Wolfgang). I would like to sincerely thank one of my former graduate students, Patrick Carter, for lending his voice to this editorial note.
I would like to thank my former graduate student, Patrick L. Carter, for sharing in the task of composing the editor’s note.