Young adolescent identities beyond the single story
Moulton, Matthew John
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There are 1.3 million documented students experiencing homelessness enrolled in United States public schools. These students are rarely afforded opportunities to challenge and rehumanize the narratives surrounding homelessness. Everyone seems to know something about “homelessness” without seeking the knowledge and related nuance present in the minds of individuals who experience it. The purpose of this youth-engaged humanizing research single-case qualitative study was to document the lived experiences of a young adolescent experiencing homelessness in a small city in the southeastern United States. This study was guided by two research questions. (1) What funds of identity do students experiencing homelessness possess? (2) How are these funds of identity supported, if at all, by school structures and personnel? Data were gathered via field notes, semi-structured interviews, and the participatory method of identity artifact creation. Data generation and analysis revealed four funds of identity that the influence the participant’s day-to-day experiences, including identifying as: a friend, a family member, a creator, an “homeless.” The participant’s school simultaneously supports, stifles, and perpetuates each of these funds of identity in some way. Findings present a complex and nuanced portrait of a young adolescent who experiences homelessness that counters dominant societal narratives. The funds of identity of young adolescents experiencing homelessness point to locations that educators could engage with to promote meaningful learning, student success, and development of equitable policies and practices.