Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 493–512 | Cite as

Teaching Young Queers a Lesson: How Police Teach Lessons About Non-Heteronormativity in Public Spaces

  • Angela DwyerEmail author
Original Paper


This paper analyses qualitative data with LGBT young people to explore police-LGBT youth interactions, and the outcomes of these interactions, as pedagogical moments for LGBT young people, police, and public onlookers. Although the data in this paper could be interpreted in line with dominant ways of thinking about LGBT young people and police, as criminalization for instance, the data suggested something more complex. This paper employs a theoretical framework informed by poststructural theories, queer theories, and pedagogical theories, to theorise LGBT youth-police interactions as instruction about managing police relationships in public spaces. The analysis shows how LGBT young people are learning from police encounters about the need to avoid ‘looking queer’ to minimise police harm.


LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) youth Police Relationship management Pedagogy Heteronormativity Public space 



Special thanks go to the LGBT young people who shared their stories with me, and to the service provider staff who initiated this process. Thanks also to the QUT Faculty of Law and PFLAG Brisbane for research funding.


  1. Angel, M. (1994). Pedagogies of the obscene: The specular body and demonstration. In J. J. Matthews (Ed.), Jane gallop seminar papers (pp. 61–71). Canberra: The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  2. Barron, M., & Bradford, S. (2007). Corporeal controls: Violence, bodies, and young gay men’s identities. Youth & Society, 39(2), 237–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartkowiak-Theron, I. (2012). Reaching out to vulnerable people: The work of police liaison officers. In I. Bartkowiak-Theron & N. L. Asquith (Eds.), Policing vulnerability (pp. 84–100). Sydney: Federation Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bell, D., & Valentine, G. (Eds.). (1995). Mapping desire: Geographies of sexualities. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Berlant, L., & Warner, M. (1998). Sex in public. Critical Inquiry, 24(2), 547–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Browne, K., Lim, J., & Brown, G. (Eds.). (2007). Geographies of sexualities: Theory, practices and politics. Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of sex. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Carrington, K., & Pereira, M. (2009). Offending youth: Sex, crime and justice. Sydney: Federation Press.Google Scholar
  10. Collins, J., Noble, G., Poynting, S., & Tabar, P. (2000). Kebabs, kids, cops and crime: Youth, ethnicity and crime. Annandale: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cooks, L. (2007). Accounting for my teachers body. Feminist Media Studies, 7(3), 299–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cunneen, C., & White, R. (2011). Juvenile justice: Youth and crime in Australia (4th ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dreyfus, H. L., & Rabinow, P. (1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  14. Durso, L. E., & Gates, G. J. (2012). Serving our youth: Findings from a national survey of service providers working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.Google Scholar
  15. Dwyer, A. (2011). “It’s not like we’re going to jump them”: How transgressing heteronormativity shapes police interactions with LGBT young people. Youth Justice, 11(3), 203–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  17. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. In H. L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow (Eds.), Michel foucault (pp. 208–226). Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, M. (1984). Nietzsche, genealogy, history. In P. Rabinow (Ed.), The foucault reader (pp. 76–100). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, M. (1989). From torture to cellblock. In S. Lotringer (Ed.), Foucault live (pp. 146–149). New York: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  21. Grumet, M. R. (1995). Scholae personae: Masks for meaning. In J. Gallop (Ed.), Pedagogy (pp. 36–45). Bloomington: Indiana University.Google Scholar
  22. Guasp, A. (2012). The school report: The experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012. London: Stonewall.Google Scholar
  23. Haskell, R., & Burtch, B. (2010). Get that freak: Homophobia and transphobia in high schools. Halifax: Fernwood.Google Scholar
  24. Hillier, L., Jones, T., Monagle, M., Overton, N., Gahan, L., Blackman, J., & Mitchell, A. (2010). Writing themselves in 3: The third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.Google Scholar
  25. Himmelstein, K. E. W., & Bruckner, H. (2011). Criminal justice and school sanctions against non-heterosexual youth: A national longitudinal study. Pediatrics, 127(1), 49–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ingram, G. B., Bouthillette, A., & Retter, Y. (1997). Queers in space: Communities\public places\sites of resistance. Washington: Seattle.Google Scholar
  27. Jackson, S. (2003). Sexuality, heterosexuality and gender hierarchy: Some reflections on recent debates. In J. Weeks, J. Holland, & M. Waites (Eds.), Sexualities and society: A reader (pp. 69–83). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  28. Johnston, L., & Longhurst, R. (Eds.). (2010). Space, place and sex: Geographies of sexualities. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  29. Kirby, V. (1997). Telling flesh: The substance of the corporeal. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Kirk, D. (1999). Embodying the school/schooling bodies: Physical education as disciplinary technology. In C. Symes & D. Meadmore (Eds.), The extra-ordinary school (pp. 181–194). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  31. Leap, W. L. (1999). Introduction. In W. L. Leap (Ed.), Public sex/gay space (pp. 1–22). New York: Columbia University.Google Scholar
  32. Marshall, D. (2010). Popular culture, the ‘victim’ trope and queer youth analytics. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 23(1), 65–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mason, G. (2001). Body maps: Envisaging homophobia, violence and safety. Social & Legal Studies, 10(1), 23–44.Google Scholar
  34. Mason, G. (2002). The spectacle of violence: Homophobia, gender and knowledge. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McAra, L., & McVie, S. (2005). The usual suspects? Street life, young people and the police. Criminal Justice, 5(1), 5–36.Google Scholar
  36. McCormack, M. (2012). The positive experience of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students in a Christian sixth form college. Sociological Research Online, 17(3).
  37. McWilliam, E., & O’Donnell, S. (1998). Probing protocols: The genital examination as a pedagogical event. Body & Society, 4(3), 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Michaelson, M. T. (2008). Inclusion and social justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of the learning community in Queensland state schools. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 18(1), 76–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moran, L. (1999). Law made flesh: Homosexual acts. Body & Society, 5(1), 39–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moran, L., & Skeggs, B. (2004). Sexuality and the politics of violence and safety. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Murdoch, K., & Wilson, J. (2004). Learning links: Strategic teaching for the learner-centred classroom. Carlton: Curriculum Corporation.Google Scholar
  42. Nussbaum, M. C. (2010). From disgust to humanity: Sexual orientation and constitutional law. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. O’Farrell, C., Meadmore, D., McWilliam, E., & Symes, C. (Eds.). (2000). Taught bodies. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  44. Pratt, A. C., & Tuffin, K. F. (1996). Police discourses of homosexual men in New Zealand. Journal of Homosexuality, 31(4), 57–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Prokos, A., & Padavic, I. (2002). “There oughtta be a law against bitches”: Masculinity lessons in police academy training. Gender, Work and Organization, 9(4), 439–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Quinton, P., Bland, N., & Miller, J. (2000). Police stops, decision-making and practice. Police Research Series Paper no 130. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  47. Remafedi, G. (1987). Adolescent homosexuality: Psychosocial and medical implications. Pediatrics, 79, 331–337.Google Scholar
  48. Rivers, I. (2004). Recollections of bullying at school and their long-term implications for lesbian, gay men, and bisexual. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 25(4), 169–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Savin-Williams, R. C. (2005). The new gay teenager. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Skeggs, B. (1999). Matter out of place: Visibility and sexualities in leisure spaces. Leisure Studies, 18(3), 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stinson, S. W. (1995). Body of knowledge. Educational Theory, 45(1), 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Talburt, S. (2004). Constructions of LGBT youth: Opening up subject positions. Theory into Practice, 43(2), 116–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tomsen, S., & Markwell, K. (2009). Violence, cultural display, and the suspension of prejudice. Sexuality & Culture, 13, 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tyndall, A. (2010). “It’s a public, I reckon”: Publicness and a suburban shopping mall in Sydney’s Southwest. Geographical Research, 48(2), 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Valentine, G. (1993). (Hetero)sexing space: Lesbian perceptions and experiences of everyday spaces. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 11, 395–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Whitbeck, L. B., Chen, X., Hoyt, D. R., Tyler, K. A., & Johnson, K. D. (2004). Mental disorder, subsistence strategies, and victimization among gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless and runaway adolescents. The Journal of Sex Research, 41, 329–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wilson, D., Rose, J., & Colvin, E. (2010). Marginalized youth, surveillance, and public space, youth affairs council of victoria and the school of politcal and social inquiry. Victoria: Monash University.Google Scholar
  58. Wolfgang, C. H. (2005). Solving discipline and classroom management problems: Methods and models for today’s teachers. New Jersey: Wiley.Google Scholar
  59. Wozniak, J., & Uggen, C. (2009). Real men use nonlethals: Appeals to masculinity in marketing police weaponry. Feminist Criminology, 4(3), 275–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Young, A. (1996). Imagining crime: Textual outlaws and criminal conversations. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Justice, Faculty of LawQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations