Schooling sexuality: an intergenerational investigation of the educational experiences of Australian gay men and teens

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van Toledo, Samara (2021) Schooling sexuality: an intergenerational investigation of the educational experiences of Australian gay men and teens. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study (re)presents the intergenerational experiences of gay men in Australian schools, communities and families across a fifty-year period. A snowball sample of six participants, ranging in age from fifteen to sixty-five, participated in life history interviews that focussed on eliciting narratives of (re)membered school experiences connected to the social and cultural discourses of (homo)sexuality. This study contributes to the scholarship of sexuality in Australian contexts. A particular gaze is directed on how schooling, family and community norms form and storm subjectivity and identity in childhood and adolescence. This research is framed by the national debate regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ)+ rights in Australia that erupted over the implementation of the Safe Schools Coalition program across Australian states. The ensuing moral panic incited by conservative groups, and the public scrutiny surrounding the proposed support mechanisms and inclusivity for LGBTIQ+ adolescents and their peers, inspired my resolve to undertake this research. Drawing on a sociocultural framework to look at the intersections around sexuality, in conjunction with the embodied knowledge of Othering, I saw the importance of a discursive examination of experiential encounters with institutionalised heteronormativity in Australian schools, family dynamics and community settings. The lived experiences of same-sex-attracted informants is an under-explored area within the scholarship of sexuality in Australian schools. This study elucidated firsthand experiences of what it has meant, and means, to be gay in Australian schools communities and families over a fifty-year period. The conclusions of the study indicate that all participants, regardless of age, have encountered overt (homo)phobia, and describe how heteronormativity has limited and negatively impacted on their ability to contribute and participate in school, in their families and in community settings. This investigation is presented in the form of a creative product and an exegesis. In each of the components there is an understanding of how deviations from binary constructions of gender and sexuality are articulated. This study adds to the plethora of work and rethinking which needs to be done in Australian schools, families and communities to support LGBTIQ+ individuals.

Additional Information

Includes exegesis and the novel 'The Ties that Bind'

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3602 Creative and professional writing
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords intergenerational; Australia; schools; communities; families; sexuality; norms; subjectivity; identity; childhood; adolescence; institutionalised heteronormativity; ethnographic narrative fiction; fifty years; society; culture; institutions
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