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Sexual diversity and illocutionary silencing in the English National Curriculum

Sauntson, Helen (2013) Sexual diversity and illocutionary silencing in the English National Curriculum. Sex Education, 13 (4). pp. 395-408.

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Abstract

Schools are sites in which heterosexuality is constructed as normal and sexualities which transgress this norm are silenced, often tacitly rather than actively. In this study, linguistic analysis is used to argue that, in school environments, homophobia and heterosexism are discursively realised as much through what is not iterated as through what is explicitly stated or enacted. Elements of critical discourse analysis and speech act theory are used to examine how the language used in the English curriculum programme of study documents constructs certain ideologies about sexuality, and how this may be linked to the cultures of heterosexism and homophobia which, according to recent research, pervade UK schools. Findings reveal that there are marked absences around sexuality in the English curriculum encoded in the experiential values of its vocabulary. These silences are identifiable in classification schemes, over-lexicalisation of ideologically contested words and the semantic profiles created by the collocation patterns surrounding particular words. Drawing on speech act theory, I argue that the cumulative effect of these features is an ‘illocutionary silencing’ around sexual diversity in the English curriculum, which, in turn, effects a discourse of heterosexism.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2012.745809
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Languages & Linguistics
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/524

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