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School of Applied Social Sciences

SASS Staff

Publication details for Dr Mark McCormack

McCormack, M. (2012). The positive experiences of openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered students in a Christian sixth form college. Sociological Research Online 17(3): 5.

Author(s) from Durham


Previous research has demonstrated that LGBT students tend to have negative experiences of school, suffering social marginalisation and discrimination. One key reason for this has been the homophobia of heterosexual male students. However, my research into sixth forms in the south of England has documented a marked change in the attitudes of straight youth, who now espouse pro-gay attitudes. In this article, I explore how this changing social zeitgeist impacts on the school experiences of LGBT youth. Building on a four-month ethnography at a religious sixth form college, I present the experiences of four students: one gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered student. Highlighting the similarities and differences in their experiences, I demonstrate the positive influence decreasing homophobia has on all students, and I argue that it is necessary to focus on combating heteronormativity in school settings. Framing these findings using inclusive masculinity theory, I also explore the extent to which this theory has relevance for women.