Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 319–337 | Cite as

Stretching performances in education: the impact of gay parenting and activism on identity and school change

  • Janice KroegerEmail author
Original Paper


This paper features one gay parent activist in the complex social milieu of his child’s school and his community, his actions meeting both resistance and concurrence as a larger movement operated locally and nationally to make schooling more accepting of and acceptable to gays and lesbians. The paper traces this man’s parenting processes and their effect on the schooling of many children, not only his own, and then contrasts his voice with the reluctant, often denying, and finally acquiescent voices of school people. The narrative captures the essence of cultural and identity change as well as individual and institutional processes. Turning to theory, I use postmodern dilemmas to define the episodic movements of the groups and the multipositionality of the individuals involved. Agency, social roles, and collaborative and individual activity illuminate the agenda of social groups effectively working with and through this parent to meet political goals for students.


Activism Agency Culture Discourse processes Educational change Gay Lesbian Home–school relations Identity Parent involvement Teacher change Social movements Structure 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The author wishes to thank anonymous reviewers for critiques as well as Linda Meixner for editorial suggestions and Tricia Niesz for a review of the final manuscript.


  1. Anderssen, N., Amlie, C., & Ytteroy, E. A. (2002). Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents: A review of studies from 1978 to 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 43, 335–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination (M. Holquist & C. Emerson, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press. (Original work published 1935).Google Scholar
  3. Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale (99–699) 530 U.S. 640 (2000). Retrieved July12, 2002 from–699.zs.html.Google Scholar
  4. Brantlinger, E. (2003). Dividing classes: How the middle class negotiates and rationalizes school advantage. New York: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  5. Cahill, S. (2005). Welfare moms and the two grooms: The concurrent promotion and restriction of marriage in U.S. public policy. Sexualities, 8(2), 169–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casper, V., & Schultz, S. B. (1999). Gay parents, straight schools: Building communication and trust. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chasnoff, D., & Cohen, H. (2000). That’s a family: A video for kids about family diversity. (Available from Women’s Educational Media, 2180 Bryant Street, (203, San Francisco, CA 94110; (415) 641–4616; Scholar
  8. Combs, B., Keane, D., & Rappa, B. (2001). ABC: A family alphabet book. Ridley Park, PA: Two Lives.Google Scholar
  9. D’Andrade, R., & Strauss, C. (1992). Human motives and cultural models. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Davis J. E. (Ed.). (2000). Identity and social change. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  11. Dubet, F., & Thaler, H. L. (2004). Introduction: The sociology of collective action reconsidered. Current Sociology, 52(4), 557–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eisenhart, M. (2001). Changing conceptions of culture and ethnographic methodology: Recent thematic shifts and their implications for research on teaching. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching. (4th ed., pp. 209–225) New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Erickson F. (1986). Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research in teaching. (3rd ed., pp. 119–160) New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Garner, A. (2004). Families like mine: Children of gay parents tell it like it is. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  15. Graham, K. M. (2000). The political significance of social identity: A critique of Rawl’s theory of agency. Social Theory & Practice, 26(2), 201–222.Google Scholar
  16. Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. A. (2002). Handbook of interview research: Context and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Holland, D., Lachicotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Holland D., & Lave J. (Eds.), (2001). History in person: Enduring struggles, contentious practice, intimate identities. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.Google Scholar
  19. Iaroshevskii, M. G. (1999). Experience and the drama of the development of personality. Russian Social Science Review, 40(2), 87–100.Google Scholar
  20. Kozik-Rosabal, G. (2000). “Well, we haven’t noticed anything bad going on,” said the principal: Parents speak about their gay families and schools. Education and Urban Society, 32(3), 368–389.Google Scholar
  21. Lambert, S. (2005). Gay and lesbian families: What we know and where to go from here. The Family Journal Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 13(1), 43–51.Google Scholar
  22. Lareau, A. (1989). Home advantage: Social class and parental intervention in elementary education. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  23. Leary M. R., & Tangney J. P. (Eds.). (2003). Handbook of self and identity. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in Europe. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA–Europe). (2005). Retrieved August 29, 2005, from %20rights% 20Europe.htm.Google Scholar
  25. Lewis, G., & Edelson, J. (2000). DOMA and ENDA: Congress votes on gay rights. In C. Rimmermand K. Wald & C. Wilcox (Eds.). The politics of gay rights (pp. 193–216). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Markowe, L. A. (2002). Lesbian and gay identity: European perspectives. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 12, 223–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McNay, L. (2001). Gender and narrative identity. Journal of Political Ideologies, 4(3), 315–337.Google Scholar
  28. Mercier, L. R., & Harold, R. D. (2003). At the interface: Lesbian–parent families and their children’s schools. Children and Schools, 25(1), 35–47.Google Scholar
  29. Munch, R., & Smelser, N. J. (1992). Theory of culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2005). Retrieved August 29, 2005, from http://www. Scholar
  31. Patterson, C. J. (1992). Children of lesbian and gay parents. Child Development, 63, 1021–1042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Patterson, C. J. (1995). Gay and lesbian parenthood. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting (pp. 255–274). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Patterson, C. J. (1998). Family lives of children with lesbian mothers. In C. J. Patterson & A. R. D’Augelli (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities in families: Psychological perspectives (pp. 154–176). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Quinn, N., & Holland, D. (1987). Culture and cognition. In D. Holland & N. Quinn (Eds.), Cultural models in language and thought (pp. 3–40). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Rubenstein, D. (2001). Culture, structure, and agency: Toward a truly multidimensional sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Ryan, D., & Martin, A. (2000). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents in the school systems. School Psychology Review, 29(2), 207–217.Google Scholar
  37. Seidman, S., & Alexander, J. C. (2001). The new social theory reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Shweder, R. A. (1992). Ghost busters in anthropology. In R. A. D’Andrade & C. Strauss (Eds.), Human motives and cultural models (pp 45–58). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  40. Stacey, J., & Biblarz T. J. (2001). How does the sexual orientation of parents matter? American Sociological Review, 66, 159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stets, J. E., & Burke P. J. (2003). A sociological approach to self and identity. In M. Leary & J. Tangney (Eds.), The handbook of self & identity (pp. 128–152). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  42. Strauss, C., & Quinn N. (1997). A cognitive theory of cultural meaning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Victory for equality in Spain (2005). International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA–Europe). Retrieved August 29, 2005, from Spanish%20marriage.htm.Google Scholar
  44. Wunthrow, R. (1992). Infrastructure and superstructure: Revisions in Marxist sociology of culture. In R. Munch N. J. Smelser (Eds.), Theory of culture (pp. 145–170). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Early Childhood Education Teaching: Leadership & Curriculum StudiesKent State UniversityKentUSA

Personalised recommendations