Shawn Mendez, Associate Professor in the Human Sexuality online PhD at CIIS Shawn Mendez

Associate Professor
Human Sexuality
School of Consciousness and Transformation

PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BA, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Dr. Shawn Mendez is an Associate Professor in the Human Sexuality PhD program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). They received their PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Shawn's goal as an academic is to create and disseminate knowledge that improves the lives of marginalized people, particularly queer and trans people of color. They are committed to creating brave learning spaces, and believe in education as a path to justice. Shawn's research program uses queer theories and mixed methods to analyze the ways that race, sexuality, gender, class and other social locations are interrelated, negotiated, and context dependent. 

In their scholarly work, Shawn is interested in what and how people learn about socially constructed hierarchies, how that knowledge relates to power structures, and how even well-meaning folks have beliefs and behaviors that contribute to marginalization and discrimination. Their research combines queer studies, family studies, and critical race studies with an explicitly intersectional lens that interrogates power structures based on sexuality, gender identity, race, and class (among others). Their previous work has focused on the experiences of LGBTQ people of color as they navigate violence in their romantic relationships and the racialized contexts of their neighborhoods. They have also examined the ways that unique socialization practices among LGBTQ parents may help families deal with prejudice and discrimination. Shawn's research program is currently asking: How do people come to identify as “allies” and what does that mean to them? What does it mean to be a “good” ally (White, straight, cisgender) parent? What does it look like in practice? What leads people to move from nominal “allyship” to active participation in collective action that is anti-racist, anti-transphobic, anti-heterosexist?

Shawn lives in Asheville, North Carolina with one dog and many, many plants.  

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