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Homophobic bullying and human rights : non-deficit approaches in queer youth wellbeing policy and practice

posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Daniel MarshallDaniel Marshall
This chapter is concerned with ways for improving the capacity of school communities to provide queer young people with stimulating educational experiences that productively engage with the realities of their lives and which promote and enhance their wellbeing. By "queer" or "LBGTI" I mean to refer to all of those young people who do not conform to prevailing expectations regarding gender and sexual identity and behaviours, those young people who may be lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender or intersexual (lGBTI), as well as all of those young people who have an association with gender and sexual diversity (for example, the straight fey boy who gets called a poofta; the teenage girl with lesbian parents, etc.). Methodologically, this chapter draws on a tradition of Foucauldian cultural analysis which acknowledges that gender and sexual identities are not stable or fixed, but that they are generated by influential discourses (e.g. my identity as a "man" in Melbourne today is mediated by contemporary discourses of masculinity, of Australianness, of class and so on) (for example, see Foucault 1984, 1990, 1992 and 1998).

This chapter argues that conventional approaches to school improvement for queer students normally focus on strategies for reducing the victimisation of teenage homosexuals, and that such strategies rely on dominant discourses of safety and bullying. I examine a recent example of this policy approach and use it as a starting point for considering the benefits and the constraints of a victim-based approach to queer youth wellbeing policy. The chapter then moves into a discussion about the recent introduction of human rights legislation in Victoria and how this can assist a move in policy and practice towards a more positive and diffuse engagement with gender and sexual diversity.


Title of book

Activating human rights in education : exploration, innovation and transformation

Chapter number



95 - 106


Australian College of Educators

Place of publication

Deakin West, A.C.T.






Article translated and published in Archivos de Ciencias de la Educacion Journal No.4 2010

Publication classification

BN.1 Other book chapter, or book chapter not attributed to Deakin

Copyright notice

2008, Australian College of Educators




C Newall, B Offord

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