“If You’re Not Yourself, Who are You Going to be?” an Exploration of Gender and Sexuality Diverse Pupils Experiences of Visibility Management in School: A Systematic Literature Review (2023)

Authors: Cleo Timney, Sarah Wright, and Cora Sargeant
Published: 2023
Publication: Journal of Homosexuality

Like all young people (YP), those who are gender and sexuality diverse (GSD) spend their youth exploring and discovering their identities; but unlike their peers, they must consider whether, how, and when to disclose their GSD identity to others in a dynamic process of visibility management (VM). At school, GSD YP actively test social reactions, interpret attitudes, and assess safety, ultimately seeking belonging as their authentic selves. Our systematic review explored findings from 16 qualitative studies capturing GSD YPs experiences of managing visibility in schools internationally. Data were thematically synthesized, and seven themes were constructed. The process of visibility management is fluid, a negotiation with social norms that GSD YP’s very existence transgresses. YP search for, and through activism actively shape, accepting environments in which they can safely be their authentic selves. GSD YP are actively asking school staff for help in creating open communities where all YP can find a place to belong, to fight to be visible. We offer some suggestions for how we might begin.

Timney, C., Wright, S. & Sargeant, C. (2023) “If You’re Not Yourself, Who are You Going to be?” an Exploration of Gender and Sexuality Diverse Pupils Experiences of Visibility Management in School: A Systematic Literature Review (2023). Journal of Homosexuality, DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2023.2246616

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Teachers’ beliefs: How they shape the support offered to trans-spectrum young people (2023)

Authors: Beckett Markland, Cora Sargeant and Sarah Wright
Published: 2023
Publication: Teaching and Teacher Education

Focus groups and an individual interview were carried out with 15 secondary school teachers in South East England, exploring their beliefs regarding gender identity and how this influences the support offered to trans-spectrum young people. Through a process of reflexive thematic analysis, six themes were developed, indicating that lack of confidence, fears of community resistance and implicitly held views of gender identity underscored a hesitancy in teachers’ practice. However, teachers expressed a strong desire to develop their knowledge and through reflection within their focus group or interview, began to construct ideas of how to be inclusive in their work.

Click here to visit the web page from which this edition of the journal can be downloaded (open access).

Markland, B., Sargeant, C., & Wright, S. (2023) Teachers’ beliefs: How they shape the support offered to trans-spectrum young people. Teaching and Teacher Education, 124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2023.104019

What can Teachers do to Challenge Heteronormativity? A Systematic Literature Review (2022)

Authors: : Beckett Markland, Cora Sargeant and Sarah Wright
Published: 2022
Publication: Psychology of Sexualities Review

Research indicates there is a gap between teachers’ positive beliefs about LGBTQ+ inclusive education and how they demonstrate this in practice. Teachers often feel limited in their capacity to implement inclusive practices, constrained by dominant heteronormative narratives in schools. Through a three-stage thematic synthesis approach, a review was conducted to explore: what can teachers do to challenge heteronormativity? The developed themes indicate that teachers can work strategically within their community context, integrate non-normative representations throughout the curriculum, role model inclusivity and acts of social justice, and facilitate a co-constructive learning environment. These themes are discussed in the context of facilitators and barriers around LGBTQ+ inclusive education, leading to a discussion of implications relevant to educators across a range of settings.

This is a pre-publication version of the following article:

Markland, B., Sargeant, C. & Wright, S. (2022) What can Teachers do to Challenge Heteronormativity? A Systematic Literature Review. Psychology of Sexualities Review, 13(1), 43-68.

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The Use of Social Media in Identity Development for LGBTQI+ Individuals and the Factors That Shape Young People’s Attitudes Towards the Transgender Population

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Kirsty Russell
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Despite the legislative progress and increased visibility of LGBTQI+ individuals in society, research continues to highlight the prejudice and victimisation that this population can face. According to the minority stress model, sexual minorities can face hostile stigma-related stressors which can compromise the mental health of LGBTQI+ individuals. Additionally, LGBTQI+ individuals face a distinct path of navigating identity development compared to nonLGBTQI+ peers. Chapter one begins by outlining the context, rationale, and scope for this research. As identity development takes place in a contemporary world of widespread social media use, chapter two presents the systematic literature review conducted to answer ‘how do LGBTQI+ individuals use social media as part of their identity development?’ The review included 16 studies and adopted a thematic synthesis methodology. LGBTQI+ individuals used social media for: gaining a sense of belonging, developing my identity, managing my identity, and broadcasting my identity. Furthermore, understanding the mechanisms which underly transprejudice has implications for the outcomes and mental health of transgender individuals. Consequently, chapter three presents the findings from an online survey with 129 young people, to investigate the factors which predict young people’s attitudes towards transgender individuals. A multiple regression analysis revealed that several previously identified factors from the adult literature formed a comprehensive model in explaining a large amount of variance in young people’s attitudes. The importance of discomfort felt with violations of heteronormativity, hostile sexism, and gender were emphasised. Implications to inform support across different ecological and contextual systems and scope for further research is discussed.

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What can Teachers do to Embed LGBTQ+ Inclusive Practices in Schools?

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Beckett Markland
Submitted: June 2021

Abstract

Teachers are well positioned to positively influence the school experiences of the young people they work with, which has known connotations for young people’s social, emotional and academic outcomes. Indeed, teachers’ direct interactions with pupils, the formal and informal learning opportunities they provide, and the classroom climate they create culminate to influence the school experiences of their pupils. How teachers navigate their practice may be of particular value to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual and gender diverse identified (LGBTQ+) young people whose school experiences are known to be challenging relative to their peers, and who often experience adverse outcomes related to these experiences. However, research shows that teachers do not regularly practice in ways which make LGBTQ+ young people feel supported or included in the school environment. Teachers are not always aware of their own capacity to facilitate LGBTQ+ inclusive practice and may feel limited in doing so, constrained by restrictive school systems, wider community resistance, and limitations in guidance as well as their own confidence in adopting such practices. The aim of this thesis was to shift the focus away from barriers that restrict teachers’ practice towards understandings of how they may be overcome. While the contexts and systemic constraints within teachers’ schools cannot be disregarded, the individual teacher has the potential to positively influence the young people they directly work with and it was the aim of this thesis to explore how this may be done.

With this endeavour in mind, two research enquiries were undertaken. Using a three-stage thematic synthesis approach, a review was conducted to explore: what can teachers do to challenge heteronormativity? This placed the emphasis on teachers’ position to de-construct dominant discourses within the school environment that typically position heterosexuality and binary models of gender as the norm. Alongside this, an empirical research project was undertaken to explore teachers’ beliefs regarding gender identity, their beliefs about their own abilities to support trans- spectrum young people, and additional supports and barriers that influence their practice. The targeted focus on gender identity was chosen due to a notable gap in the research base, in which LGBTQ+ identities are often amalgamated, despite evidence that trans-spectrum young peoples’ experiences differ from others in the LGBTQ+ community. Through the course of each research enquiry, implications for teachers’ practice were developed with consideration to the relative facilitators and barriers that might exist in different schools. This included suggestions for teachers to integrate non-normative representations throughout the curriculum, role model inclusivity and acts of social justice, and facilitate co-constructive learning environments with pupils. It was also suggested that teachers can work strategically in their schools, engaging in relational work with parents to co-create possibilities for LGBTQ+ inclusive practices. To support teachers in their own professional learning journeys, possibilities for training and reflection are also suggested. Strengths and limitations of each research enquiry are discussed.

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