Who's afraid of sex at school? The politics of researching culture, religion and sexuality at school

Louisa Elizabeth Allen, Mary Louise Rasmussen, Kathleen Anne Quinlivan, Clive Aspin, Fida Sanjakdar, Annette Claudine Gisele Bromdal

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31 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the methodological politics of researching at the intersections of sexuality, culture and religion in secondary schools. It draws on experiences during a project concerned with how to address cultural and religious diversity in sexuality education in Australia and New Zealand. The paper focuses on two methodological sticking points, one occurring inside academia and the other outside, in schools. The first coheres around the process of gaining ethics approval from multiple institutional committees and the second accesses schools for participation. These sticking points are conceptualized as effects of a set of discursive and material constraints which are idiosyncratic to school-based sexualities research. We argue that discourses of sexuality and young people are mobilized in both spaces and intersect with a social moment of a??risk anxietya?? in ways that shape the methodological possibilities of the research. These discourses serve to constitute sexualities research as a??riskya?? and a??controversiala??, an image which impedes the generation of new knowledge in the field. By rendering challenges of this research visible and discursively deconstructing the reasons for them, we refuse to dismiss school-based sexualities research as a??too harda??. Instead, we aim to keep this topic firmly on the educational research agenda by alerting researchers to its challenges so they may prepare for them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31 - 43
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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