Queering College Student Retention

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queer theory, retention, LGBT students

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Retention literature and concepts warrant examination through the lens of queer theory, a poststructural body of thought about sexuality and gender, to understand their implications for queer students. Five themes found in the retention literature are addressed from a queer perspective: framing retention as an economic and labor problem; campus climate; the focus on programs, policies, and services; psychological traits; and positivistic approaches. Queering retention involves deconstructing retention binaries; problematizing the production of normative subjects through retention theory; focusing on institutional transformation; and examining retention as heteronormative domination. Queer failure and futurity are offered as possible new frames for retention. This essay seeks to raise questions, tensions, and complexities with no clear or simple solutions. Tentative and limited implications for practice and research are offered; however, they raise more questions than provide answers.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, v. 21, issue 4, p. 544-566