A research project is being conducted in conjunction with the "Beneath the Surface" project. The research is being carried out by Linköping University and includes five studies.
The purpose of the research project in to demonstrate how heterosexuality is made to be the norm in schools. The purpose of the research is also to develop strategies for discussing, thinking about and acting on the topics of gender and sexuality without marginalizing or excluding homo- and bisexuals.
The research is proceeding well. Five researchers are working in the project. Our focus is on heteronormativity—how heterosexuality is made normative—in schools and in teacher education.
Two studies focus on teacher education. Another is about nine-year-old pupils and how they reproduce and challenge categories of gender, age and sexuality. The fourth study is about heteronormativity in strategies that aim to foster gender equality. The fifth study, which started this year, focuses on the school as a workplace.
We have learned that in all of these contexts, the heterosexual norm is taken more or less for granted. When homophobia is addressed it is placed in the margin. It is said to be a problem for somebody else and somewhere else.
It is also common to see the problem as a question of tolerance. The heterosexuals should tolerate the homosexuals. This is a strategy that we find very problematic because it reinforces the heterosexual norm. The heterosexual is put in the position to tolerate the “other”.
Our presumption that immigrants often are perceived as more homophobic than native Swedes has been verified. This is a tendency that we have noticed even among immigrants. It is therefore important to bring together the work against heteronormativity and the work against racism or xenophobia.
We have also noticed a close link between stereotyped representations of gender and heteronormativity. We find it therefore important to also consider how constructions of gender and heteronormativity work together.
The study about the school as a workplace shows that ambitions to affirm diversity in school are restricted to the pupils. The teachers are all presumed to be heterosexual. The researcher in this recently started project will study how discourses about the teacher relate to the heterosexual norm. The ambition is to interview both homosexual and heterosexual teachers.
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