Understanding and addressing homophobia in schools: a view from teachers
South African schools have been found to be homophobic. Teachers can play an important role in offering a critique of homophobia grounded in South Africa’s legal claim to equality on the basis of sexual orientation. Currently there is a dearth of educational research about how teachers understand and address homophobia. By drawing upon focus-group interviews with teachers based at five schools, this paper shows dominant teaching views which contribute to homophobia, although this is not the only view. Informed by theoretical framings that seek to uncover heterosexual domination, the analysis shows three interrelated discursive constructions through which homophobia is both produced and resisted by teachers. Silencing homosexuality, denying its existence in the curriculum, and religious prohibitions were found to be dominant. It must be understood however that teachers are working in a context without any intervention and support. Their views also show potential for working against the climate of homophobia. Recommendations for such work are indicated in the conclusion of the paper.
Keywords: curriculum; homophobia; interventions; religion; secondary schools; sexual silences; teachers
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