Occasional Paper Series #45

Ambivalent Legacies: A Response to Harper Keenan

by Jen Gilbert

Harper Keenan’s generous letter to beginning queer/trans teachers hinges on the question: How do we stand in that impossible moment when we are welcoming newcomers while still acknowledging our debts to those who’ve come before? Jonathan Silin, whose work this issue celebrates, grapples with these questions of legacy in an essay that reflects on his contributions as an early childhood educator and researcher and a gay rights and HIV/AIDS activist. Silin (2020) asks:

Is it possible to leave behind traditional ideas about legacy, weighted down as they are with commitments to social and biological reproduction, and reimagine it as something more ethereal, more queer if you will, that might lead to unthought possibilities? (p. 55)

About the Author

Jen Gilbert is an associate professor of education at York University. Gilbert is author of Sexuality in School: The Limits of Education (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and collaborator on The Beyond Bullying Project, an LGBTQ+ storytelling and research study in high schools. Gilbert’s research focuses on LGBTQ+ students, teachers, and families; sex education; and youth studies.

Jen Gilbert