Stephen J. Thornton is active in the social studies profession. He is the current Chair of the Department of Secondary Education and the University of Southern Florida. Thornton has chaired both the American Educational Research Association's Special Interest Group on research in social studies education and the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies. In his 2009 paper, Silence on Gays and Lesbians is Social Studies Curriculum, Thornton highlights the exclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered perspectives in social studies curriculums in the United States. Thornton (2009) argues this exclusion is a result of heteronormativity, homophobia and a general lack of resources.
Thornton's purpose in this article is to bring attention to the continuing exclusion of GLBT perspectives in social studies curriculums. Thornton (2009) observes that as a whole, Social Studies curriculum in the United States has become more multicultural in its inclusion of a range of groups and perspectives. While the contemporary curriculum has moved away from equating "American" with a white male-centered Protestant tradition, Thornton argues it is still not representative of all Americans, mainly because it "assume[s] that everyone is heterosexual until proven otherwise" (Thornton, 2009, p.362). This belief that humans are straight by default is called heteronormativity. Thornton believes heteronormativity undermines curriculum inclusion and encourages stereotypes because it encourages a "we-they attitude" (Thornton, 2009, p.362). Heternormativity depicts a view of American life that is inaccurate, because it marginalizes GLBT lifestyles. This perpetuates intolerance, harassment and physical violence against those that are GLBT by indirectly affirming the assumption that Heterosexuality is the norm, making Homosexuality outside this norm.
Thornton references the work of James Banks, a leader in...