07 SES 14 B, Schools As Queer Spaces: European Perspectives
A growing body of research examines sexuality and schooling, however, very little of this research questions how homophobic discourse operates in differing ways for young women and men and tends to implicitly assume that homophobia is experienced in a similar way. More attention has also generally been paid to the experiences of gay men and boys (e.g. McCormack and Anderson, 2010; Morris et al, 2014; Rivers, 2012). Given the particularly detrimental effects of homophobic discourse on girls (Guasp, 2012), a more nuanced analysis of the gendered aspects of homophobic discourse in schools is needed. Within this symposium, two contributions focus on the experience of both young women and men (Jugović and Bezinović; Kjaran) whilst Calvelhe examines the experiences of gay men. This paper provides some balance by exploring young gay and bisexual women’s experiences. The paper uses data from interviews with lesbian and bisexual-identified young women in which they discuss their experiences of negotiating and enacting their sexual identities in the school environment. The interviews are analysed using Bucholtz and Hall’s (2004; 2005) tactics of intersubjectivity framework to examine how participants understand their sexuality identities in relation to the secondary school context. The application of this queer theory-informed analytical framework offers deeper insights into sexual orientation and education than can be gained from thematic analysis alone. Findings indicate that the frequent enactments of homophobia through silence, ignoring and censoring in the school environment were particularly salient for the young women in the study. Furthermore, analysis of the interviews provides insight into some of the reasons for this gendered experience which relate to the UK school context. I consider the implications of these findings in relation to the development of European policy around sexuality and schooling, arguing that such policies need to pay close attention to the gendered dimensions of sexuality.
Bucholtz, M. and Hall, K. (2004) Theorizing identity in language and sexuality research. Language in Society 33: 469-515. Bucholtz, M. and Hall, K. (2005) Identity and interaction: A sociolinguistic approach. Discourse Studies 7 (4-5): 585-614. Guasp, A. (2012) The School Report: The Experiences of Gay Young People in Britain’s Schools in 2012. London: Stonewall. McCormack, M. and Anderson, E. (2010) ‘It’s just not acceptable any more’: The erosion of homophobia and the softening of masculinity at an English sixth form. Sociology 44 (5): 843-859. Morris, M., McCormack, M. and Anderson, E. (2014) The changing experiences of male bisexual adolescents. Gender and Education 26 (4): 297-413. Rivers, I. (2012) Homophobia hasn’t gone away. Times Educational Supplement 5002.
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