Plenary Wednesday 23 May: Gender and sexuality in education

Wednesday 23 May: Gender and sexuality in education
Confirmed speakers: Professor Ann Phoenix, Professor Dennis Francis.
Discussant: Assistant professor Jón Ingvar Kjaran. Chair: Senior researcher Jukka Lehtonen.

In schools, gendered and sexual practices and cultures are not typically taken seriously as key targets of development, and heteronormative practices still remain dominant. Radical changes in educational policies addressing gender and sexual equality and diversity are rarely seen. This plenary invites you to take part in a discussion on the current research on gender and sexuality in education. What challenges are there in research related to gender and sexuality in education? Which ways can we influence educational policies and practices on sexualities and gender through research?

Plenary Tuesday 22 May: Differentiation and diversity in schools and classrooms.


KEYNOTE LECTURE 1: Thinking Gender, Thinking Sexuality


 Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies
Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, University of London in England
Jane and Aatos Erkko Professor at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki in Finland

It has long been clear that everyday gender practices are not isolated from other social relations. An intersectional perspective is, therefore, central to providing a holistic view. This talk discusses ways in which gender and sexuality are interlinked in young people’s everyday practices. It considers the debate about whether or not homophobia is a defining feature of masculinities and how sexuality serves to regulate young women’s and young men’s behaviour. The talk draws on different research projects done over time to consider the methodological importance of thinking gender and thinking sexuality together.

Professor Ann Phoenix

Professor Ann Phoenix‘s research interests include social identities, migration, young people and families, parenting, masculinities, gender, racialization, ethnicisation and intersectionality. In her recent work Ann Phoenix has focused particularly on family lives and environment in India and the UK, young boys and masculinities in Finland, as well as on research related to global migration. Ann Phoenix has a large number of publications and recently co-edited the following book:

Environment in the Lives of Children and Families Perspectives from India and the UK (2017), Policy Press.


KEYNOTE LECTURE 2: Keeping it straight! What South African queer youth say they need from sexuality education


Dennis Francis, Professor of Sociology
Stellenbosch University in South Africa

How do queer youth take up, question and say what they need from sexuality education? What queer youth say they need from sexuality education is a curriculum that recognizes sexuality diversity. A curriculum without assumptions about their sexual experience or lack of it that does not focus solely on associating homosexuality with issues of disease, deviance and danger. Research findings highlight that despite the inescapable presence of compulsory heterosexuality in the sexuality education classroom, all youth, including straight, have many questions about counter-normative sexualities revealing the need for a more defined curriculum framework. Concerns about the social significance of compulsory heterosexuality in South African education are justified – how can we allow for the teaching and learning of gender and sexuality to be more diverse?

Professor Dennis Francis

Professor Dennis Francis

Dennis Francis is a former dean of Education and currently a professor of sociology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He holds a PhD in sociology and has published extensively in the areas of gender and sexuality diversity and schooling. Dennis Francis is the author of Troubling the Teaching and Learning of Gender and Sexuality Diversity in South African Education (2017), published as part of the Palgrave Macmillan Queer Studies and Education. In 2014, he was awarded the South African Education Association Medal of Honor for research.

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