Beyond Bullying: Shifting the Discourse of LGBTQ Sexuality and Youth in Schools


Beyond BullyingRecent policymaking and public conversation in the United States has focused on preventing anti-gay bullying and minimizing the risk of depression and suicide among gay youth. While these efforts may foster safety and educational achievement, they also help define lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) sexuality and gender as sites of vulnerability and intervention and LGBTQ youth as victims, or potential victims, in need of protection and care. In Beyond Bullying, we seek to shift discourse and practice away from LGBTQ sexualities and youth as problems for education and toward recognizing LGBTQ youth-and LGBTQ sexuality more broadly-as vital to the cultures and practices of school communities.

Working with public high schools in Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, and San Francisco, we collect multimedia stories that reflect the many ways LGBTQ sexuality circulates in a school, shaping students' and teachers' interactions, creating possibilities, and disallowing others. Students, teachers, and administrators are invited to tell and explore ordinary stories of LGBTQ sexuality-crushes, families, friendships, break-ups, coming out, harassment, bravery, and aspirations. Our team will examine the complexities, contradictions, and (dis)pleasures students, teachers, and administrators express about LGBTQ sexuality. We will think, too, about how adults and youth listen to each other's stories of the discomfort, hope, and ambivalence surrounding LGBTQ sexuality and gender. And, finally, our team will consider what's required for the institutional space of the school to open up to the uncertainty, confusion, discomfort, and potential pleasure that stories of learning with, from, and about LGBTQ sexuality and LGBTQ lives may introduce.

Beyond Bullying is a collaboration between SF State's Health Equity Institute and Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality (CREGS), Teacher's College at Columbia University, and York University. 

Research Questions

  • What might school communities hear when they welcome stories of LGBTQ sexuality and youth that move beyond bullying?
  • What is required for teachers, administrators, and students to meaningfully recognize and incorporate stories of LGBTQ sexuality and youth into the everyday cultures of schools?
  • How might an expansive archive of stories shift the local and national conversations and policies that inform LGBTQ lives and advance the rights and well-being of LGBTQ youth?

Training Opportunities 

Graduate students in Health Education and Sexuality Studies at SF State receive training in narrative and ethnographic research and frameworks for studying the ways everyday life and institutions shape sexuality and human rights. 

Research Products

Stories and research findings will be translated into print and web-based reports directed toward educators, advocates, and policymakers in order to promote a more expansive understanding of LGBTQ sexuality. With our partner, Bay Area Video Coalition, we are producing a series of short documentary films highlighting stories. These will be available soon.

Latest News

Stay up to date on the latest news by visiting the Beyond Bullying website. Be sure to also like the team on Facebook.

The Team


SF State Graduate Student Assistants:

  • Angelica Cardenas
  • Shaun Kennedy
  • Liz Kroboth

External Team

  • Co-PI:  Professor Jen Gilbert, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, York University
  • Co-PI:  Professor Nancy Lesko, PhD, Maxine Greene Professor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University


The Ford Foundation
Grant: "Sexuality, Health and Rights Among Youth in the United States: Transforming Public Policy and Public Understanding Through Social Science Research."