Queer Youth v. the State of California: Interrogating Legal Discourses on the Rights of Queer Students of Color



For nearly 2 decades, lawsuits filed on behalf of students who have endured anti-queer bias in schools have resulted in favorable verdicts and settlements for the plaintiffs, thus spurring an increasing number of school districts across the United States to establish antidiscrimination policies and other initiatives to protect students from homophobic harassment. While these legal victories mark an important turn toward creating safe schooling environments for all students, they also reveal an inattention to the intersections of multiple identities and oppressions that can mediate the harassment experienced by queer students. Drawing upon critical scholarship on queers of color, or a queer of color critique, this article interrogates the absence of race in legal discourses on the rights of queer students in California. Through its focus on the intersections of race and sexual orientation, this article considers new forms of knowledge on queer youth of color that not only may inform legal protections on their behalf, but also may shape the efforts of school districts and community stakeholders to improve the educational experiences of queer students of color.