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The secret identity of a biology textbook: straight and naturally sexed

Abstract

While education communities have well defined commitments to protect their learners from oppressive instructional materials, discourses of science education are often left unexamined. This analysis/critique employs queer theory as a perspective to look at how one widely used textbook in Ontario schools conceptualizes notions of gender and sexuality. Results indicate the use of discourses that promote exclusively heteronormative constructions of sexuality along with sex/gender binaries. Challenging such oppressive misconceptions of sex/gender and sexuality is discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A good example of this outside of the context of this paper can be found in Lovelock’s (2001) Homage to Gaia: The Life of an Independent Scientist. Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis was initially completely rejected by leading biologists because it could not be easily subsumed by evolution through natural selection.

  2. 2.

    It is interesting to read Birke’s (1994, p. 123) take on the seminal experiment where hormonal injections prompted male rats to prostrate themselves and female rats to mount; thereby providing the opportunity to infer that homosexuality is linked to hormones. Birke astutely notes that the bodies of the ‘deviant’ male rats that prostrate become labeled as homosexual while the bodies of the ‘normal’ male rats who ‘properly’ mount are not. Similarly female rats that are mounted by ‘deviant’ mounting females are also not labeled homosexual. Thus imposed onto nature are cultural traditions that seek to label organisms that fall outside of expected norms as abhorrent.

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Correspondence to Jesse Bazzul.

Appendix

Appendix

The only other picture in the entire text depicting an intimate relationship that could be assumed to be sexual is shown below. Intimacy was assumed because of the arm around the woman’s waste.

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Bazzul, J., Sykes, H. The secret identity of a biology textbook: straight and naturally sexed. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 6, 265–286 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11422-010-9297-z

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Keywords

  • Heteronormative(ity)
  • Queer
  • Textbook
  • Gender
  • Sexuality