The formation, implementation and reception of gender and sexualities education in English primary schools

Hall, Joseph James

Geography
January 2015

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2015 Joseph James Hall. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

This thesis examines the formation of gender and sexualities education and its implementation and reception in two state-funded English primary schools. The first part identifies how childhood discourses circulating in Section 28 debates influenced the trajectory of UK government legislation and guidance for gender and sexuality education. I demonstrate how anti-homophobia and anti-bullying emerged as a desexualised policy paradigm following parliamentary debates in which the Western cultural myth of ‘childhood (sexual) innocence’ was preserved. The second part explores how Stonewall (a leading Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual third sector organisation) and two pioneering English primary schools use these initiatives to create and implement gender and sexualities education. I show how social actors within these schools interpret national government policy in different and with contrasting outcomes. The final part examines how pupils (5-11 years old) respond to gender and sexualities education in the context of everyday school life. In doing so, I expose a socio-spatial underpinning to children’s simultaneous performances of acceptance and recuperation of heteronormativity where a performative self that cites recognisable liberal pluralistic equalities discourse in ‘formal’ school space can be distinguished from a performative subject that is simultaneously compelled to perform normative (hetero)gender/sexuality in ‘informal’ school space in order to achieve viable subjecthood. As such, this study provides the first comprehensive overview of gender and sexualities education in the UK, from its inception to its reception, and highlights the possibilities - as well as the limitations – of neoliberal equalities programmes based around anti-homophobia and anti-bullying.

Publisher
Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, The University of Hull
Supervisor
Gagen, Elizabeth; Atkinson, David, 1969-; Rose, Mitch
Sponsor (Organisation)
Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain)
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
26 MB
Identifier
hull:12624
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