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Visibly Invisible: Federal Educational Policy Regarding Queer Students, Faculty, and Staff During the Obama Administration

The Obama Administration and Educational Reform

ISBN: 978-1-78350-709-2

ISSN: 1479-358X

Publication date: 1 December 2014



Systematic oppression and marginalization of queer (sometimes also referred to as LGBTQ) people has affected all aspects of U.S. society, including education at all levels. Despite the heavy policing of queer sexuality and gender both inside and outside higher education, these aspects of identity have been overlooked in educational policy. This paper discusses federal educational policy that affects queer students, faculty, and staff in higher education.


Discussion in this paper is informed by three guiding tenets: sexuality is both central and marginal to queer identities; trans* identities are both inclusive of and beyond those who are in the process of confirming their gender identity through hormones and/or surgery; discussion of educational policy must acknowledge queer theory’s utility and nonutility.


The status of queer people in colleges and universities is reviewed first. Then, challenges of developing policy to address queer issues are acknowledged, while also illustrating recent policy changes and judicial rulings that have positive implications for queer people in higher education.


The paper concludes by identifying remaining gaps and recommendations for future policy development, including the need for federal nondiscrimination laws that cover sexual and gender minorities and restructuring policies for queer inclusion.



Stewart, D.-L. and Russell, E.I.A. (2014), "Visibly Invisible: Federal Educational Policy Regarding Queer Students, Faculty, and Staff During the Obama Administration", The Obama Administration and Educational Reform (Advances in Education in Diverse Communities, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 291-311.



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