n Gender Questions - "You should wear to show what you are": same-sex sexuality student teachers troubling the heteronormative professional identity - research

Volume 5 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2309-9704



Although schools are meant to be places where fundamental human values are taught and embraced, challenges encountered by student teachers with same-sex sexualities are inherently connected to contextual experiences of rejection and of being “othered.” These student teachers navigate the internalised homophobia, low self-esteem and anxiety of the teaching profession and begin to take on the role of the activists who “unsilence” and “visibilise” sexual diversity in normative school environments. However, there is scant research on how self-identified effeminate gay and masculine lesbian student teachers negotiate and navigate their identities in a heteronormative school environment during Work Integrated Learning (WIL). This article interrogates the conflation between gender expressions and the assigned sex that seems to raise the question of fitness of same-sex sexuality student teachers for the profession. In the research project undertaken, a qualitative design, which comprised a focus-group interview to elicit responses from 12 self-identified same-sex sexuality student teachers, was utilised. Themes that emerged from the data analysis are: policed bodies and gender-regulated professional teacher identities; self-regulation and performativity; and disrupting heteronormativity in the classroom. These themes are embedded within Activity Theory (AT). The results of this study show how the policing of dress code, mannerism and perceived sexual practice regulated and “genderised” teacher professional identity in schools. This indicates that as part of diversity education, urgency exists for teacher training programmes to incorporate knowledge on inclusive collegial atmospheres that are accommodative of same-sex sexualities.

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