Investigating Gender: Contemporary Perspectives in Education

By Becky Francis; Christine Skelton | Go to book overview

8
Issues of gender and
sexuality in schools
Mary Jane Kehily
Introduction
This chapter will explore issues of gender and sexuality in school and will consider some of the practical ways in which the categories of 'gender' and 'sexuality' work together to structure the experience of schooling. The chapter is intended to address issues of practice and the concerns of practitioners in educational settings. Specifically the chapter aims to explore two key questions:
How do issues of gender and sexuality manifest themselves in school?
What are the implications for educational practice?

The chapter is based upon data drawn from school-based research in four secondary schools in the UK where fieldwork took place over a four-year period.1In all schools a range of qualitative research methods were used which included group discussions, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with groups and individuals. Some parts of the chapter are based upon my doctoral research (Kehily 1999a), an ethnographic study which explored the ways in which school students negotiate issues of sexuality within the context of the secondary school. Throughout the study I suggest that school students maintain a strong sense of agency and often organize their own cultural groups within the school in ways that give shape to pupil sexual cultures. In using the term 'pupil cultures' I am referring to informal groups of school students who actively ascribe meanings to events within specific social contexts. My approach suggests that the processes of meaningmaking which students engage in produces individual and collective identities which carry social and psychic investments. The doctoral study documents the ways in which issues of gender and sexuality feature in the context of pupil

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