||This paper presents the results of a research project into school experiences conducted among Catalan youths from a working-class background and of minority status in Barcelona, in a complex multilingual situation. The aim of the project was to reveal and reconstruct the representations and practices of the teaching staff in relation to gender, social class and ethnicity through a variety of disciplinary methods and academic devices which limit and control the way students can express their diversity. The results show how the young people studied conform part of their social, gender and ethnic identity through their experiences at school, through their daily dealings with the school's communications and practices as well as through their interactions within their peer groups on a prestige scale, which was created by the institution itself. Traditional values and patterns of Catalan and Spanish society are still dominant: heterosexuality as the only and exclusive possibility of sexual identity, higher prestige of masculinity, invisibility of femininity in general and of women in particular, almost complete ignorance or attention to the cultural expressions of young people of different ethnic and linguistic origins. As a result of these experiences, for young people belonging to the mainstream culture the path to academic success is marked by invisibility of gender and class. In the case of young people of immigrant and minority status their academic experience is dominated by social isolation from their peers and an academic labelling associated with challenge, temporality or exception. However, the experiences and strategies of female students are significantly specific, as the paper will show.