Quick Search:

Whose 'equality' matters the most? A discourse analysis of the language of pro- and anti-LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Relationships and Sex Education guidance for schools in England

Sauntson, Helen ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0373-1242 (2021) Whose 'equality' matters the most? A discourse analysis of the language of pro- and anti-LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Relationships and Sex Education guidance for schools in England. In: International Gender and Language Association conference 2021. (Submitted)

[img] Slideshow
Sauntson IGALA2020 presentation_Recorded.pptx - Presentation

Abstract

This paper focuses on analysis of language in the new statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) guidance for schools in England, and some reactions from particular groups to the guidance’s inclusion of positive teaching of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships. Despite the famous ‘Section 28’ being repealed in 2003, it is well documented that there has, since then, been a ‘legacy’ from Section 28 which has resulted in a pervading silence and fear of openly discussing non-heterosexual relationships in schools. The persistence of this legacy has been one of the driving forces behind the inclusion of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships in the new RSE guidance published in 2019.

Scrutiny of the guidance reveals that, despite the inclusion of diverse sexual relationships and LGBTQ+ identities, this only occurs in a small section (two paragraphs) and the language used in these paragraphs is vague. Whilst the reforms are welcome and undoubtedly a positive step forwards, there is arguably still work to be done in terms of making LGBTQ+ identities and relationships even more visible in the guidance, and finding a way of ensuring that this aspect of the guidance is consistently being delivered in a positive and inclusive way by teachers. Moreover, the vague language of the new RSE guidance means that the implementation of the guidance by teachers is likely to be highly variable, a key issue that is currently being debated in various fora by academics, teachers and other practitioners.

Some groups have also recently mobilised against this inclusion of positive teaching about LGBTQ+ identities and relationships in the new RSE guidance. Groups have, for example, held public protests outside schools in Birmingham. The protests suggest that although there is overwhelming support for the new guidance, including its section on LGBTQ+ identities, there are still groups in society who are opposed to teaching about this dimension of equality. Given these conflicting reactions to changes in RSE, it is particularly important that the language used in the guidance is as positive and inclusive as possible – this paper shows that, despite the positive changes, more can still be done to make the language of the guidance more effective in terms of advancing gender and sexuality equality in schools.

This paper analyses some of the key linguistic, discursive and multimodal strategies deployed by the anti-LGBTQ+ protest groups to distort progressive views of gender and sexuality within the UK school context. I conduct a discourse analysis of talk in some of the publicly-available video recordings of the protests, as well as associated press reporting of the protests. I compare the language used by the protest group against the actual language used in the RSE guidance document itself that pertains to LGBTQ+ inclusion as a means of identifying conflicting discourses around ‘equality’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Submitted
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P40 Sociolinguitics
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5381

University Staff: Request a correction | RaY Editors: Update this record