23 SES 10 A, Power and Emotion
Parallel Paper Session
The experience of LGBT-students in Icelandic upper secondary schools and how they negotiate their existence within the heteronormative environment of the schools has not been the focus of many studies in Iceland. The few studies that have been undertaken in Iceland, have mainly focused on primary schools and depicted LGBT-students as objects of victimization and homophobic prejudices. In this paper we will depict LGBT-students as active subjects that resist their heteronormative environment and its heterosexist discourse by defending their self through transgression practices (Allan 1999, 2008). By focusing on the students’ resistance/transgression practices an effort will be made to contextualize the messages in student’s narratives, in order to reveal the power structures within schools and the hegemonic discourse that underpins it. We will also analyze how the students interpret their own experience of heterosexist environment.
We ask two main research questions: i) what meaning do LGBT-students put into their experience, especially in relations to heterosexism and the heteronormative environment of the upper secondary schools? ii) How do the participants’ transgression practices manifest themselves in narratives about their school experiences and how they situate (position) themselves, e.g. as victims or active participants?
The objectives of the paper are both practical and theoretical. Its results can be practical for teachers and educational staff to enable them to support LGBT-students more actively and raise awareness of their needs. In a theoretical sense we will discuss and explore the experience of LGBT students and how they react to their heterosexist school environment.
We will discuss the concept of experience of disadvantaged groups and how LGBT-students narrate their experience about heterosexism / heteronormativity within the upper secondary schools under study. Foucault´s writings about ethics (1984, 1985) as a way to engage more in research of disadvantaged groups and his discussion about transgression practices will be applied. This will be done by searching after and identifying transgression practices in the participants’ narratives in the framing of the four ethical dimensions formulated by Foucault (see Foucault, 1984, 1985; Allan, 1999, 2008). These practices are understood as having the purpose of repositioning the student, moving him away from a disadvantaged state. The dimensions are: determination of ethical substance, the mode of subjection, self-practice or ethical work and the telos (Tobias, 2005; Winch, 2005). These concepts will be elaborated more upon and explained in the paper. Practices of transgression are understood as “a form of resistance involving the crossing of limits or boundaries” (Allan, 2008, p. 92).
The results of the study should have interests outside of Iceland for at least two reasons: Firstly it should contribute to the growing body of research which focus on the issues of LGBT students, applying both critical and queer theory in their apporach. Secondly its results could give teachers and policy makers in education indications of what could be expected in other European upper secondary schools when it comes to the experience of LGBT students of heterosexism.
Allan, J. (1999). Actively seeking inclusion: pupils with special needs in mainstream schools. London: Falmer. Allan, J. (2008). Rethinking inclusion: the philosophers of difference in practice. Dordrecht: Springer Foucault, M. (1982). Technologies of the Self. In P. Rabinow (ed.). Essential Works of Foucault, vol. I. New York: The New Press. Foucault, M. (1984). On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress. In P. Rabinow (ed.). Essential Works of Foucault, vol. I. New York: The New Press. Foucault, M. (1985). History of Sexuality, vol. 2, trans. R. Hurley. Harmondsworht: Penguin. (Orig. 1984). Jagose, A. (1996). Queer theory. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. Kirsch, M. H. (2000). Queer theory and social change. London: Routledge. Linville, D. (2009). Queer theory and teen sexuality. Unclear lines. In J. Anyon (Ed.), Theory and Educational Reserch. Toward critical social explanation (pp. 153-177). New York: Routledge. Silverman, David (2004). Who cares about „experience“. Missing issues in qualitative research. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research. Theory, method and practice, p. 342-367. London: Sage Tobias, Saul (2005). Foucault on Freedom and Capabilities. Theory, Culture and Society 22 (65), p. 65-84. Winch, Sarah (2005). Ethics, government and sexual health: Insights from Foucault. Nurs Ethics 12 (2), p. 177-186.
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