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'Homophobia' in the university classroom : law and justice students' conceptualizations of queer identity

Hayes, Sharon L. & Ball, Matthew J. (2010) 'Homophobia' in the university classroom : law and justice students' conceptualizations of queer identity. In Scherer, Burkhard (Ed.) Queering Paradigms. Peter Lang AG, Bern, pp. 181-196.

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      Abstract

      Heteronormative discourses provide the most common lens through which sexuality is understood within university curricula. This means that sexuality is discussed in terms of categories of identity, with heterosexuality accorded primacy and all ‘others’ indeed ‘othered.’ This paper reports on research carried out by the authors in a core first year university justice class, in which students of law and/or justice were required to engage with, discuss, and reflect on discourses on sexuality. It uses a poststructural framework to identify how students understand non-heterosexualities and how they personally relate to queer identities, in the sense that it asks questions about gender and sexual identity, and the discourses surrounding them. It was found that strongly negative attitudes to non-heterosexualities are quite resistant to challenge, and that some students express being confronted with queerness as a deep-seated fear of being drawn into otherness against their will. The result was that, while many students were able to unpack their attitudes towards queerness and engage in critical reflection and re-evaluation of their attitudes, students with strongly negative views towards non-heterosexualities conversely refused to engage at all, typically perceiving even the engagement itself as a threat to their core heterosexual identity. However, the authors caution against relying on the idea that students are simply “homophobic” to explain this reluctance, as this term does not necessarily account for the complexity of the discourses that inform students’ reactions in this context. This “homophobia” may simply be related to a way of performing gender and sexual identity as opposed to overt discrimination and fear.

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      ID Code: 29776
      Item Type: Book Chapter
      Keywords: homophobia, gender, education, heteronormative, sexuality
      ISBN: 3039119702
      Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
      Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > OTHER STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (169900) > Gender Specific Studies (169901)
      Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
      Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
      Current > Schools > School of Justice
      Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Please consult the authors.
      Deposited On: 20 Jan 2010 12:07
      Last Modified: 03 Mar 2012 20:16

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