Posts Written by radicallyqueer

Deaf school closings as a feminist issue

An SYTYCB entry

It seems these days that every time I watch an ASL news program or Deaf vlog, there’s another call to protest the closing of a school for the Deaf somewhere in the US. Last year two residential schools for the Deaf faced possible closings in my home state of North Carolina, and now the Iowa School for the Deaf, in the state where I attended law school, is at risk of closing. While there’s no inherent reason that a recession should lead to mainstreaming Deaf students in hearing schools, states are jumping to that strategy in a climate of heavy budget cuts.

Many who are uninformed about Deaf culture, education, and language would assume that mainstreaming is a good idea because Deaf people will have to live in the hearing world as adults and should learn to adapt as best they can.  For some students, mainstreaming IS the right choice.  I would never argue that Deaf students and their families shouldn’t have this option.  But as with many questions we ask ourselves as feminists, this one relates to choice, as well as to the autonomy of a marginalized group and the importance of community formation as a means of resistance to structural inequality.
The ASL sign for a school for the Deaf translates to “institution.” These schools are in fact the primary community institution for those who participate in Deaf culture and primarily use ASL to communicate. Deaf communities spring up around ...

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