Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-14-2014

Major Department or Program



Jack Jackson


In this thesis I examine the usefulness of liberalism as a political theory to address the injustice, repression and inequality currently facing queer youth in the United States. The FAIR Education Act, a 2011 California law mandating positive representation of LGBT historical figures and issues into public school curriculums, provides the lens for my analysis of liberalism. I conclude that looking at this law from multiple liberal perspectives reveals the limitations of the theory in its ability to address the issues facing queer youth. These limitations include a misguided attempt at neutrality in education, a disproportionate focus on religious freedom, the normalizing or homogenizing forces of a majority-rule system, and an insistence on the separation of public and private matters. However, I also suggest that some aspects of liberalism could be particularly productive for the project of making public schools a source of justice for young queers by “queering” liberalism itself.

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Subject Headings

Liberalism -- Political aspects, California Education Code -- FAIR Education Act -- LGBT Historic Bill, California Legislature -- Senate -- SB48, LGBT icons -- Historic figures, Public Schools -- California, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) -- Philosophy, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2014 -- Politics Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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