33 SES 04 A, Gender and Sexuality Based Violence
According to Connell (2015) lesbian and gay teachers confront two contradictory social norms in their workplace. On one hand, within schools, teachers should present themselves as “desexualized” persons, professional individuals that kept their personal lives in private. On the other hand, they should be “proud” as homosexual individuals, in order to be role models for students and colleagues, confronting homophobic violence everyday, embodying the contemporary gay ethos. As a result, there is a certain ambivalence about commingling sexual and professional identities. When individuals face this, they must develop a personal strategy to become a “homosexual teacher”. But, as is suggested by Collins and Bilge (2018), the construction of any sexual identity must consider the intersection with gender, race and social class and the specific forms of violence related to those categories in specific social contexts.
But individuals do not always face discrimination in the same way. First, individuals do not always identify themselves with the social categories assigned by others (Singly, 2010). Then, the effect of gender, race and social class should be analyzed through the lens of personal positioning, considering how all those categories are interpreted by subjects. Second, individuals understand social norms offering an explanation about the existence and consequences of rules (Dubet, 2010). In this case personal strategy to confront homophobic violence should consider these hypotheses, because the experience of being discriminated depends on how individuals explain social order and their position within society (Dubet, 2013).
We must consider that, in Chile, attitudes towards homosexuality has been changed since 2012, like in other Latin American countries (Barrientos, 2016). Schools, which now reproduce this new discourse of acceptance, are then not always seen a space of oppression. Nevertheless, heteronormative gender and sexuality norms are still produced in schools and gender and social class still mold the self-positioning in the workplace. In a Western cultural context were individual increasingly should take care of themselves (Giddens, 2004; Illouz, 2014) the way to confront violence is often relied with a personal choice, rather than a result of a complex social process of individuation.
Following that, our first objective is to know how homophobic violence is experienced by gay and lesbian teachers in their workplace, and how the sexual norms of school space have an impact on the personal distinction between personal and professional identity. Then, we aim to understand the way that discrimination is explained by individuals in order to describe how their own positioning reproduce new forms of homophobic violence within schools.
In this presentation we expose the results of a qualitative research conducted in Chile, which underlines the influence of social inequalities and the consequences of symbolic forms of violence in the lives of gay and lesbian teachers. To accomplish this, we conducted 24 personal interviews focused on three topics: personal biography, professional trajectory, and the personal narrative about homophobia in Chile and Chilean schools. Attending research objectives, interviewees represent a diversity in terms of gender, social class and residence within the city of Santiago and two small towns (Cabildo, Rancagua). Then we organized two focus group with 18 students in Santiago and other school actors, to confront the first findings with a more general description of homophobic violence in Chilean schools. In both cases we explore our data using discourse analysis methodology (Canales, 2013).
The way to internalize, confront or even reproduce homophobic violence in school spaces, is related with the personal experience facing two specific local norms: first, the ambivalent acceptance of homosexuality in Chilean schools; and second, the manner in which sexual decency is shaped by moral, social class and gender. These norms promote a depoliticized homosexual identity, unable to transform sexual norms in schools, providing a specific frame for recognition/ negation with consequences to all educational community. In addition, for teachers is difficult to see the “subtle” homophobic violence circulating among students, compared to the more “frontal” violence mobilized by their colleges. Since school staff is considered more “homophobic”, most of the lesbian and gay teachers in this study present themselves as a “pride homosexual” if they are out of the closet in their own families and not necessarily in front of their colleges. Family support provide a sense of self-assurance which does not require recognition for other actors within schools. Facing an isolated gay or lesbian subject, schools are not forced to reflect on how they politically produce a specific form of LGBTI recognition and individuation process. Finally, discrimination is often displaced: interviewees can elaborate different hypothesis for explain their situation within schools, which are not always related to personal sexuality. Being too cute, being poor, being too cool, be a guy in a girls’ school, etc. are explanations that differ from the homosexual oppression often described by literature (Collins, 2015). However, other actors in schools then to disqualify those narratives, because they can still recognize the prevalence of homophobic violence affecting the professional careers of gay and lesbian teachers. As a result, there is an inequal recognition for personal agency where LGBTI individuals are still subjects of suspicion.
Barrientos, J. (2016) Violencia homofóbica en América Latina y Chile. Santiago: El Desconcierto Canales, M. (2013) Análisis sociológico del habla. En: Canales, M. (Cord.) Escucha de la escucha. Análisis e interpretación en la investigación cualitativa (p. 171-188). Santiago: Lom. Collins, P. ; Bilge, S. (2018) Intersectionality. Cambridge: Polity Press. Connell, C. (2015) School’s Out. Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom. Oakland: University of California Press Dubet, F (2010) Sociología de la Experiencia. Madrid: Editorial Complutense Dubet, F. (2013) Pour quoi à moi. L’expérience des discriminations. Paris: Seuil. Giddens, A. (2004) La transformation de l’intimité. Sexualité, amour et érotisme dans les sociétés modernes. Paris: Hachette Littératures. Illouz, E. (2014) Cold intimacies. The making of emotional capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press Singly, F. (2010) Les uns avec les autres. Quand l’individualisme crée du lien. Paris : Armand
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