Queering the upper secondary school
- Date: Thursday 27 March 2014, 17:00 – 18:30
- Location: Parkinson Building
- Type: Seminars
- Cost: Free
This talk focuses on the heteronormative discourse and the experiences of queer students in upper secondary schools.
In my talk, I will discuss my research on queer youth in Iceland. It focuses on the heteronormative discourse and the experiences of queer students in upper secondary schools. Its objectives were to study and describe the discursive factors that contribute to the heterosexist ideology within the upper secondary school settings, both at individual and institutional levels.
Furthermore, the focus is on the experience of queer students. My findings suggest that young people, who are questioning their gender identity, sexuality or both, find it difficult to come to terms with their feelings during their formative years in upper secondary school. This depends on the individual and the particular school setting. Queer students face difficulties when coming into the open with their feelings, although the scale and scope of these difficulties varied among the research participants. Institutionalized heterosexism, either subtle or overt, is interwoven into the school culture and social interactions of faculty members and students.
In addition, gender and sexuality within the upper secondary school are still constructed around the discourse of heteronormativity. Particular gender performances gain more capital and the discourse of sexuality revolves around heterosexuality, in some instances marginalizing those students that do not conform to the dominant discourse of either gender or sexuality.
Moreover, I also focus on the various strategies queer students use when taking care of the self. They both adapt their identity and body to the school environment and try to queer it. In that sense, I emphasize that my participants are active subjects, who claim a discursive space and transform their queerness into capital.
This they experience as emancipatory and it helps them to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity. Thus, my research is a contribution to the growing knowledge about queer students, by which I depict them as active subjects when coming to terms with their sexuality or gender identity. Furthermore, focusing on activities of queer students and the queering aspect of taking care of the self, opens up the potentials of changing the school environment.