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Critical Pedagogy, Sexuality Education and Young People

Issues about Democracy and Active Citizenry


Edited By Fida Sanjakdar and Andrew Kam-Tuck Yip

Critical Pedagogy, Sexuality Education and Young People presents cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research on the role of critical pedagogy in transforming sexuality education. Featuring the work of scholars from around the globe, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Finland, this unique collection of work expands the meaning of pedagogy in the field of sexuality education by augmenting young people’s voices and agency, and by emphasizing a democratic and civic focus. This volume identifies and interrogates theoretical frameworks based on critical theory and critical pedagogical discourses, cross-cultural studies and critical literacy to offer new ways to conceptualize critical pedagogy in sexuality education. Many of the practical classroom applications presented will engage educators and classroom teachers in the areas of curriculum design, classroom pedagogies and institutional reform. They can also be applied to the formulation and implementation of more effective policies for sexuality education involving schools, community groups and students. The chapters in this volume interrogate texts, institutions, social relations and ideologies impacting contemporary sexuality education policies and pedagogical practices, prompting a consideration of alternative models of sexuality education for today’s globalized age.

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11. ‘Boys Think It’s Just a Hairless Hole’: Young People’s Reflections on Binary and Heteronormative Pedagogies in School Based Sexualities Education (Julia Hirst / Rachel Wood / Daisy Marshall)


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11. ‘Boys Think It’s Just a Hairless Hole’: Young People’s Reflections on Binary and Heteronormative Pedagogies in School Based Sexualities Education



Critical pedagogy equips students with the capacity to resist forms of knowledge that ‘perpetuate or legitimate an unequal status quo’, and in so doing resist their ‘power effects’ (Burbules & Berk, 1999, p. 46). This chapter takes extracts from empirical studies in the north of England to illustrate practices in school settings that legitimate wider contexts of heteronormativity experienced at two levels: 1) in the content of sex and relationships education (SRE) which reproduces gender as binary and sexuality as heterosexual and reproductive, and 2) at the level of homophobic and transphobic bullying and victimisation.1 Despite these challenges, LGBTQ+ young people are shown through the data to have critical capacities and knowledges that they draw upon to resist their teachers’ and some peers’ hegemonic notions of gender and sexuality, and replace them with counter-discourses that legitimise their social truths, diverse and fluid identities and rights to more inclusive education.

With this in mind, we argue that a feminist critical pedagogical approach (Ellsworth, 1989; Loutzenheiser & Moore, 2009; Luke & Gore, 2014) is uniquely positioned to simultaneously address the challenges of restrictive SRE and homophobic and transphobic oppression, and that it might do so by entering into dialogue with young people’s own criticality. A central principle of...

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