Marks, Chloe (2010)
Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
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Despite an underlying inclusion agenda, sexuality equality remains a low priority in education. A large body of literature suggests the marginalization of sexual minority young people (SMYP) in schools and indicates the need to enhance understanding in this area to change existing practice. Whilst other disciplines have begun to examine professional practice with regard to heterosexism (defined as a socially created value system which contrasts heterosexuality as normal and non-heterosexuality as inferior, Fish 2008), educational psychologists have not yet embraced action which locates intervention at the social level. This study explores Educational Psychologists’ (EPs’) constructions of sexuality and the implications for practice. Discursive psychology (Potter and Wetherell 1987) was used to analyse semi-structured interview data from seven EPs. Multiple and context dependent constructions of sexuality emerged from the study. The research revealed that participants oriented to the need to maintain a non-prejudiced position and managed tensions of accountability using rhetorical strategies and various interpretive repertoires. Conclusions centre on the need for reflexive practice to challenge taken for granted assumptions regarding sexuality in education and psychology communities. Training is also recommended which is underpinned by social constructionist methods to develop awareness of the cultural barriers for SMYP and reveal the complexities of sexuality diversity. It is intended that such training would develop confidence for EPs in this area so that new discourses infuse the drive towards a sexuality inclusive school culture.
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