Sexuality and schooling in the borderlands : the deconstruction of Latina/o teenage pregnancy as a social problem



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This dissertation is based on an ethnographic study of the lives of six student-parents (four young women and two young men) from Barlow High School in northwest Austin, Texas. The lived experiences of student-parents from a predominately Latina/o high school and my interactions with Barlow High School's student body, staff, educators, administrators, and social workers from an on-campus organization called A-Space illustrate how the discursive construction of teenage pregnancy as a social problem intersects with the schooling process to (re)produce gendered, classed, and racialized notions of belonging in the American body politic. My analysis considers the development of an American cultural concern with teenage pregnancy through a history of reproductive and racial politics, and it examines the work of The National Campaign to Prevent Teenage and Unplanned Pregnancy, which, I argue, is a racializing campaign. An American cultural concern with teenage pregnancy has yielded a discourse of teenage pregnancy prevention that constructs the solution to teenage pregnancy around responsibility rather than access to contraception and information. The lives of Barlow High students and student-parents highlight the complexity of deterritorialized lived experiences, which sometimes include early family formation. While Barlow High School's student body of color learned about belonging in the first decade of the new millennium, educators vacillated between understanding the intersecting hierarchies of power impeding socioeconomic mobility and academic achievement in the community and believing that they did the best they could in the given situation. Educators and social workers, as agents of the state, failed to recognize their role in creating community. In sum, this dissertation documents a borderlanding or the creation of a borderlands in the new millennium.