Sexuality and physical education

Clarke, Gill (2006) Sexuality and physical education. In, Kirk, David, McDonald, Doune and O’Sullivan, Mary (eds.) Handbook for Research in Physical Education. London, UK, Sage, 723-739.


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The issue of sexuality is perhaps the last taboo as regards open discussion in physical education. Although as I shall argue within this chapter there have been some changes within the pedagogical practices and expectations of physical educators in the two decades since Lenskyj first referred to the ‘chilly silence’ surrounding this issue in the mid 1980s much remains to be done if physical education is to recognise and allow for the sexual diversity of all its participants. Clearly there has been increasing awareness of the importance of addressing issues of sexuality within physical education which has led to a growing corpus of research in this field particularly emanating from North America, Australia and England. Nevertheless, while there may have been a rise in academic study it is questionable what impact this has had on grass roots physical education. Accordingly, there remain considerable gaps in our understanding of what it means to be different within the largely hetero-normative social and cultural context of physical education.

This chapter discusses the practices of physical education in order to demonstrate how these continue to operate around stereotyped notions of what is to be ‘normal’, that is not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (lgbt) but heterosexual. In doing so this review elucidates the ways in which (hetero)sexual identity is privileged, regulated and controlled. Further, how this intersects with restricted conceptions of gender, (hegemonic) masculinity and (hyper) femininity is revealed. Attention is also directed to considering how heterosexism and homophobia continue to be manifest within physical education.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 9780761944126 (hardback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: physical education, sexuality, heterosexuality, homophobia, gender, identity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Leadership, School Improvement and Effectiveness
ePrint ID: 25136
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
18 September 2006Published
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:47

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