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The Apparatus of Queer Inclusion in English Primary Schools: A Foucauldian Insight into Policy and Teachers’ Discourses

LECUYER, ARABETHAN (2024) The Apparatus of Queer Inclusion in English Primary Schools: A Foucauldian Insight into Policy and Teachers’ Discourses. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the elements forming LGBT inclusion in English Primary Schools. In recent years, the presentation of sexual and gender diversity in schools has become a deeply polarised issue. Parental protest, particularly to LGBT inclusive education in primary schools, has been at the forefront of media attention (BBC, 2019; Morgan & Taylor, 2019). In the midst of, and perhaps because of, this controversy, the 2019 changes to the Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum made “LGBT content” compulsory only for secondary schools. Primary schools, by contrast, were “encouraged and enabled to cover LGBT content when teaching about different types of families” but were not required to do so (Department for Education, 2020b, para. 25). Primary schools may decide whether such content is “appropriate” to include in their RSE curriculum, and the guidance requires them to consult parents and consider ‘political impartiality’ when planning this teaching (Department for Education, 2019d; 2020c, p. 11). This optional status is significant given that previous research has suggested LGBT inclusion in primary schools is sporadic and formed in mind of potential parental backlash, ideas of age appropriateness, and neutrality (Carlile, 2020b; DePalma & Jennett, 2010; Johnson, 2022; Wilder, 2019).
As limited research has yet extensively examined the shape of LGBT inclusion in primary schools alongside the new RSE guidance, this thesis aims to fill this gap in the literature. This thesis used policy analysis alongside interviews and/or questionnaire responses from 363 teachers to understand the meaning of LGBT inclusion in policy and its enactment in schools. Using a Queer and Foucauldian lens, this thesis grapples with the discourses and power relations underpinning the multiple meanings of LGBT inclusion. The findings of this thesis suggest that the notion that LGBT content is ‘encouraged and enabled’ overlooks both the prohibitive impacts that discourses of appropriateness, whether in terms of age, sexual content, parental rights, or political impartiality, has on inclusion attempts, and that the very designation of the queer as optional otherly content subjects LGBT content to these discourses. LGBT inclusion in this manner was allowed, but not necessarily practicable, being subject to parental and school judgements of appropriateness.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:LGBT, Queer, Primary School, Relationships Education, Sex Education, RSE, Sexuality, Gender, Education, Foucault, Queer Theory, Sedgwick, Butler, Policy, Discourse, Innocence, Apparatus
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:19 Mar 2024 08:03

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