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The social work of sexuality: rethinking approaches to social work education

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date10/2013
JournalHealth and Social Care Education
Number of pages4
Early online date9/09/13
Original languageEnglish


This paper discusses teaching about sexuality on university social work programmes, and is based upon a presentation at the Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development in Stockholm 2012. The authors analyse dominant, anti-discriminatory practice approaches to this topic in order to raise several limitations, such as a focus solely upon negative experiences of ‘sexual minority’ groups, the establishment of ‘correct/incorrect’ values, and the imperative to identify individual homophobic beliefs. Instead, the authors present an alternative approach, based upon analysis of everyday practice and discourse, or the ways in which questions of sexuality are ordinarily represented and talked about, and they emphasize social work’s active production of forms of sexual knowledge. The article outlines some examples from teaching, in order to question the emphasis on codes of practice and values within social work education, and suggests ideas for a reflexive approach to sexuality in practice.