07 SES 11 B, ‘Negotiating Heteronormative School Contexts’ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Issues in Education
Owing to a variety of complex historical and socio-cultural factors, the Irish education system remains heavily influenced by denominational mores and values (Ferriter, 2012), particularly those of the Roman Catholic Church (Devine, 2012). Unsurprisingly, with the declaration by Roman Catholic Church that homosexuality was “intrinsically disordered” (Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, 2003), the professional identity of LGB teachers’ working in denominational schools is often (in)formed by fear as well as perceived, or actual, harassment and discrimination (O’Fathaigh, 2003; Gowran, 2004 and Fahie, 2012). This paper examines the attitudes of 24 Irish primary teachers, who identify as LGB, towards the teaching of religion. It reveals the complex processes of rationalisation and reflexivity which these teachers undertake as they endeavour to reconcile their sense of personal integrity as members of the LGB community with their professional obligations. The study draws particular attention to those teachers who hold deeply felt, and sincere, beliefs in the teachings of the Roman Catholic church but who, nonetheless, express a level of discomfort at the language and tone of church dogma in respect of minority sexualities. The conceptual underpinning of the research draws upon Symbolic Interactionism (Mead, 1934) and Foucauldian conceptualisations of power (Foucault, 2001).
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