In this research article, Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández and Dominique Rivière examine the discursive frames that students and teachers in four specialized arts high schools in Toronto used in describing their schools as safe environments. The belief that arts high schools are safe is shared by students and teachers, particularly in relationship to LGBTTQ+ students, making these schools optimal settings for examining what safety means and how it is construed. The authors show how the assumption that arts high schools are safe is related to the larger social and cultural context in which each school is situated. By asking what it means to be safe, whose safety, and from what dangers, they aim to demystify the notion of safety, showing how it is related to dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that can be traced to broader national discourses. Drawing on critical race theory, as well as the concept of homonationalism and the construction of exalted subjects, the article highlights the remarkably similar discourses through which both arts high schools and the liberal nation-state are construed as safe.

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