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The Implications of Gender Binaries for LGBQT+ People in Boarding Schools


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Images of the Gendered Spaces on my School Campus:

One of the spaces that particularly stands out to me is the salon in the girls dorm. This is a space only female students can access. It reminds me of the theory of gender performance, how gender is a concept created by society. The fact that there is a salon in the female dorms but not in the male dorms plays into this idea of gender performance. Society sends a message to girls that they should be more concerned about their looks rather than men, and for men who also want to take care of their looks – hair in particular do not get the chance to do so in my school.

These are the bathrooms in the learning commons of my school. This is a place where you can see the binary so vividly, not only with the separated bathrooms but also with the animations used to differentiate the toilets. One animation has a dress whilst the other one has pants. This may not seem like a big deal but again it’s the subtle messages this sends to people. It enforces the hegemonic norms for people seeing this, with what the two genders are supposed to wear.

Statistics from Members of my School:

Below are some statistics from students in my school:

A few reasons why people voted the way they did are:


Because im old enough to be having sex. I don’t understand the constraints of my sexuality when homosexual students in the same space are allowed to express themselves

– Anonymous


I wouldn’t mind mixed dorms but mixed bathrooms might make girls feel unsafe. Also, there are people with different religions here and they’re not allowed to be seen by the men they’re not married to. Mixed dorms/bathrooms will force them to cover up all the time.

– Anonymous


The mixed dorms scenario works best at Universities because most of the student population is of adult age. The problem with younger people (<18) is that it is perceived that they cannot be trusted with own decisions because of immaturity. Hence,it would be irresponsible to allow room for some wrong turns : teenage pregnancy,sexual harassment including rape by older students,loss of privacy (peeping toms) and sexual disease spread to mention some.If the idea of mixed dorms is to be pursued then a very solid,water proof and complex enough strategy has to be employed to solve aforementioned problems to such an extent as to leave little room for mistake and loopholes.

– Anonymous

After looking at responses from students at my school, I was able to gauge where my school community is at when it comes to making the space more inclusive. I found out that this discussion is very complicated because with making the space more inclusive there are more issue one being safety for all students. I believe that even though this space may not be the place to have mixed dorms and bathrooms because of the fact that most of the student body is underage and coming from very conservative backgrounds. Conversations should still be had around making the space more inclusive and how that can be possible. It is also important for us to stop trying to make the majority comfortable, because true diversity is not making the majority comfortably but rather making everyone uncomfortable and then saying now how do we make peace with being uncomfortable with each others existence and beliefs.

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COMMENTS: 6
  1. April 26, 2019 by Moitse Kemelo Moatshe

    Well done Ashley! This is great work.

    • April 26, 2019 by Ashley.Omondi

      Thank you <3

  2. April 26, 2019 by Temilolu Awofeso

    So proud of you <3

    • April 26, 2019 by Ashley.Omondi

      Thank youuu <3

  3. April 29, 2019 by Lisa Kopelnik

    Hi Ashley,
    Your project is so relevant and well-researched. It’s amazing that you were able to get quotes and testimonies from students and Deans. Thanks for raising awareness around this issue and for providing a large amount of background and current information.

  4. May 04, 2019 by Susan

    Interesting topic and well thought out arguments Ashley! Keep it up.

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