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'More than boy, girl, male, female': exploring young people's views on gender diversity within and beyond schools contexts

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Sex Education
Issue number4
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)420-434
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/03/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper explores the views of young people aged 12–14 on gender diversity, drawing upon school-based qualitative data from a study conducted in England in 2015–2016. Although earlier feminist and queer research in schools often found evidence of variable local gender cultures and gender non-conformity, we argue that the contemporary context, with its increasing global awareness of gender diversity, offers young people significant new ways of learning about and doing gender. Findings reveal that many young people have expanded vocabularies of gender identity/expression; critical reflexivity about their own positions; and principled commitments to gender equality, gender diversity and the rights of gender and sexual minorities. We also show how young people are negotiating wider cultures of gendered and sexual violence. Schools are providing some spaces and learning opportunities to support gender and sexual diversity. However, overall, it appears that young people’s immediate social cultural worlds are constructed in such a way that gender binary choices are frequently inevitable, from school uniforms and toilets to sports cultures and friendships. Our conclusion touches on the implications of these findings for how educational practitioners, external agencies and young people can address gender rights, equality and justice in schools and beyond.