07 SES 11 B, ‘Negotiating Heteronormative School Contexts’ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Issues in Education
While the challenges faced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) students in schools have long been the focus of researchers and scholars internationally (for example, Young 2013, Luke and Goodrich 2013, Darwich, Hymel and Waterhouse, 2012), there has been a relative paucity of research which considers the cultural, denominational, political and geographic contexts shaping the experiences, both positive and negative, of LGBTQ teachers working in schools across Europe. American studies have consistently highlighted how LGBTQ teachers from around the world negotiate their personal and professional identities within the context of an often-hostile work environment (Jackson, 2006; Gust, 2007; Mayo, 2008; Endo, Reece-Miller and Santavicca, 2010). In the European context, however, while scholars continue to examine and explore this topic (Piper and Sikes, 2010; Rudoe, 2010; Bridgeman, 2012; Neary, 2013) a lacuna has been identified in respect of an absence of any in-depth, systematic, critical comparison of the common themes/experiences for LGBTQ teachers in schools across Europe. While European Union law is clear in its prohibition of discrimination and its espousal of equality across a number of grounds for minorities within the workplace (Employment Equality Directive 2000/78/EC and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which became binding in 2009), many LGBTQ teachers continue to mask/hide their sexual identities due to their fear of actual, or potential, discrimination or harassment. Heteronormativity is a feature of life in all school types and it is clear that further complexities arise in the relationship between religion and sexuality in schooling contexts. These issues highlight the importance of an in-depth exploration of the complexities experienced by LGBTQ teachers as well as the necessity of interventions in initial teacher education. The papers presented in this symposium draw upon recent scholarly research on LGBTQ teachers in Germany, Sweden and Ireland and highlight particular issues within these jurisdictions which have significance and relevance for teachers across Europe. Framed within a paradigm of social justice and inclusion, this symposium aims to create a dynamic forum in which to identify and explore common themes, foster synergies between interested scholars and, critically, identify areas for future collaboration and research within a European context. Most importantly, the symposium also seeks to initiate/facilitate broader discussions on a range of LGBTQ issues in education and, in so doing, destabilise the heteronormative cultures and discourses which still prevail in many school systems across Europe. This symposium will be composed of four presentations from three countries. Lundin will examine the tensions and anxiety experienced by Swedish teachers as they reveal their sexual identity to colleagues and the school community. Papers by Neary and Fahie will analyse how the overwhelmingly denominational systems of education in Ireland impact significantly on the lives of LGBTQ teachers, focussing specifically on the complex processes of subjugation and control at play. Key issues in relation to the manner in which gender and sexual orientation are addressed in initial teacher education in Germany are highlighted in a paper by Götschel and Klenk.
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