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Abstract

Queering Center: A Critical Discourse Analysis of University LGBT Center Theoretical Foundations

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine the framing discourse of theorization and practice surrounding university-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) resource centers. Building on interdisciplinary work by critical feminist, race, and queer scholars in sociology, social work, education, and political science, this study proposed a vital shift from identity politics (Combahee River Collective, 1977) and multicultural (Jay, 1994; Ward, 2008) theorizing and practice frameworks to praxis grounded in intersectional understandings of identity and resistance to interlocking systems of oppression (Razack, 1999) which (re)produce logics of dominance such as racism, gender binaries, and sexism. Supporting this conclusion was my critical discourse analysis of three texts, considered by practitioners to be the “canon” of theorization and conceptualization of campus-based centers. The three unique texts, the only ones published prior to 2011, to prescriptively advise center development and programming, were discursively analyzed through a critical queer feminist lens critiquing the constructs of essentialized identity politics and multiculturalism. The textual analysis indicated that the three texts drew heavily upon the discourses of essentialized identity politics and multiculturalism, and in doing reified homonormative white regulating systems. While making no claims that the three manuscripts represented the entirety of theoretical discourse framing LGBT center development, sparse center scholarship and this study’s argument in combination with scholarly critiques of both identity political and multicultural frameworks, asserts a strong claim for reconceptualizing the project of campus centers through a critical, intersectional lens based in the dismantling of interconnected systems of oppression.