The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality

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Oxford University Press, USA, Mar 5, 2012 - Psychology - 166 pages
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Research has traditionally shown high schools to be hostile environments for LGBT youth. Boys have used homophobia to prove their masculinity and distance themselves from homosexuality. Despite these findings over the last three decades, The Declining Significance of Homophobia tells a different story. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews of young men in three British high schools, Dr. Mark McCormack shows how heterosexual male students are inclusive of their gay peers and proud of their pro-gay attitudes. He finds that being gay does not negatively affect a boy's popularity, but being homophobic does. Yet this accessible book goes beyond documenting this important shift in attitudes towards homosexuality: McCormack examines how decreased homophobia results in the expansion of gendered behaviors available to young men. In the schools he examines, boys are able to develop meaningful and loving friendships across many social groups. They replace toughness and aggression with emotional intimacy and displays of affection for their male friends.Free from the constant threat of social marginalization, boys are able to speak about once feminized activities without censure. The Declining Significance of Homophobia is essential reading for all those interested in masculinities, education, and the decline of homophobia.

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About the author (2012)


Mark McCormack is a qualitative sociologist at Brunel University in England. His research focuses on the changing nature of masculinities among British youth. In this book, he examines how decreased homophobia has positively influenced the way in which young men bond emotionally and interact in school settings.

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