Prof suggests using art classes to help kids 'turn out queer'

A professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) recently argued in favor of using art education to help “kids turn out queer.”

Adam Greteman, who teaches aspiring K-12 art teachers, published an article in the current edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Studies in Art Education titled “Helping Kids Turn Out Queer: Queer Theory in Art Education.”

“This article explores the possibilities of queer theory in art education, and I playfully, perhaps provocatively, ask how art education can help kids turn out queer,” he writes, adding that there is a “need” for art educators to “challenge fears around queer topics.”

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In his efforts to fight against the “heteronormative realities” of most K-12 schools, Greteman argues that art teachers could impart a “queerer agenda” on students that might "actually help kids turn out queer” [emphasis in original].

Greteman, who identifies as a “queer scholar,” lists a few ways teachers could achieve this, such as implementing “queer art lessons,” embracing a “queerer agenda” in class, and using “queer affirmation” strategies to help gay students feel more included.

He also adds that “the inclusion of LGBTQ artists and the need to include LGBTQ students is at this point a rather straightforward approach” to help queer the curriculum as well.

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Further, he argues that schools have a duty to speak frankly with students about queer sex.

“Queerness and its attention to sex may seem inappropriate, but sex is still a core component of the human experience—an experience that visual culture addressed and has attended to for some time—and one that schools cannot deny,” he asserts.

However, Greteman complains that the grip of “heteronormativity” on school curricula makes it “less practical to argue that schools should help produce queer subjects or take avowedly queer stances,” despite his belief that “we can, and perhaps should, help our kids turn out queer.”

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Greteman declined to answer questions posed by Campus Reform, and instead forwarded a very short message on what he claims is his definition of queer.

“I see a working definition of queer as cultivating the ability to look at things in fresh new ways; to be able to see and hold in tension multiple viewpoints about being and living in the complex world,” he wrote, after which he did not respond to further requests for comment.

In 2013, Greteman published an article on how bareback sex should be taught in sex education programs, to create a “theory of risky (sex) education. He has also written other articles about the role that queer theory can play in education.

“My work is influenced by an eclectic array of modes of inquiry, including queer, feminist, and trans theories, pragmatism, Marxism, and post-structural ethics,” Greteman writes in his faculty biography page for the SAIC.

Campus Reform reached out to the Journal of Studies in Art Education for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen