In 1985, Rebecca Bell-Metereau, the Democratic candidate for State Board of Education (SBOE) District 5, published a book titled Hollywood Androgyny about films that feature “instances of cross-dressing, transvestism, and every kind of gender-bending.”
Bell-Metereau is a longtime professor, currently at Texas State University, wherein her research interests are “gender roles, film, celebrity studies, transgender, and disability studies.” She will face Republican Lani Popp in the general election.
In multiple sections of her book, Bell-Metereau discusses cross-dressing in films and how the practices, in her mind, call into question “arbitrary” gender norms.
“When viewers from a wider spectrum of society appreciate a film that celebrates cross-dressing, this indicates not only that the film has an intrinsic emotional appeal, but that the general audience is ripe for the message of sexual variation and tolerance,” she writes.
Bell-Metereau then adds, “The film that successfully depicts sexual role reversal leads the viewer to explore the hidden ‘other’ within and, in doing so, makes us realize that many of the boundaries are arbitrarily imposed.”
She then discusses the 1971 movies Death in Venice and Fellini Satyricon, writing that they “featured beautiful boys, made up just enough to highlight their loveliness and enhance their homosexual allure.”
Tying the two passages together, Bell-Metereau continued, “Few cinematic experiences appeal more to our sense of delight in viewing the fantasies of childhood than does cross-dressing…The childhood thrill of experimenting with the father’s tuxedo or the mother’s lingerie reemerges when we witness actors and actresses playing with sexual identity through clothing reversals.”
Bell-Metereau told The Texan, “I have changed some of my views and language since I wrote the 2nd edition of Hollywood Androgyny. I never dreamed I would be one of the first scholars to explore this topic. I am a cisgender woman, but in looking at the history of gender, we can see numerous examples of cultures that have had a different view of gender from the traditional binary model most Americans took for granted until recent years.”
According to the Texas Education Agency’s website, the responsibility of the State Board of Education is to “set curriculum standards; review and adopt instructional materials; establish graduation requirements; oversee the Texas Permanent School Fund; appoint board members to military reservation and special school districts; provide final review of rules proposed by the State Board for Educator Certification; review the commissioner’s proposed award of new charter schools, with authority to veto a recommended applicant.”
The board consists of 15 members from districts across the state.
About her view of the SBOE and its role, Bell-Metereau added, “Our job is to provide analytical tools and factual information. It is not to dictate values. Parents can teach their children the value system they wish to convey, but it will eventually be up to the students themselves to determine what they believe is accurate information and what conforms with their values and experience.”
Last year the Austin Independent School District adopted a new sex education curriculum that includes revamped lessons as early as third grade. Fifth graders will be taught about gender identity, sexual orientation, and romantic attraction using a “genderbread person.”
The curriculum further emphasizes that “sex assigned at birth is independent of gender identity.”
Parents can opt their children out of the curriculum at their request.
Another candidate that ran in the SBOE District 5 race was perennial candidate, Robert Morrow, known for making inappropriate, prejudiced, and vile comments. After his defeat, he endorsed Bell-Metereau due to her opposition to President Trump.
At Texas State University she directs the interdisciplinary Media Studies Program.
Bell-Metereau received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Indiana. She served in the Peace Corps in Africa and has taught at the University of Oklahoma and Gaston Berger University in the Republic of Senegal.
She has won numerous awards for her work.
Her campaign website says she intends to “reduce [Texas’] over-reliance on high-stakes testing.”
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.