Skip to main content

English Language Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Incorporation of Gay- and Lesbian-Related Topics in the Classroom: the Case of Greek Cypriot EFL Teachers

Abstract

The English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom is composed of a mixture of people with various backgrounds and identities. Sexuality is increasingly recognised as a form of identity similar to other categorical forms such as class, gender and ethnicity. Based on the idea that ‘otherness’ related issues should be treated in the foreign language classroom as a means to achieve existential competence, the present study investigates the attitudes of Greek Cypriot EFL teachers towards the inclusion of gay- and lesbian-related topics in the EFL classroom. A 15-item questionnaire was designed and data was collected from 58 English language teachers in Cyprus. The results indicated that EFL teachers tended to have positive attitudes towards the use of gay- and lesbian-related topics in the classroom. Positive attitudes seemed to be caused by the belief that students would find such topics interesting and on the condition that they are part of the course-book. Negative attitudes seem to be formed because EFL teachers believe that they were ill-equipped to deal with the use of such topics and homophobia in the classroom. As it is generally teachers who play a large part in determining what constitutes allowable discourses in the classroom, their role becomes even more significant in evoking insights, enriching students’ educational experiences and creating an accepting classroom environment towards the discussion of gay- and lesbian-related topics.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Adamczyk, A., & Pitt, C. (2009). Shaping attitudes about homosexuality: the role of religion and cultural context. Social Science Research, 8, 338–351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Álvarez-Bernardo, G., Guijarro-Ojeda, J.R., & Ruiz-Cecilia, R. (2013, June). Innovating EFL teacher training in Spain: post-structuralist approaches to gender. Paper presented at the International Conference: The Future of Education, Florence, Italy.

  • Azimova, N., & Johnston, B. (2012). Invisibility and ownership of language: problems of representation in Russian language textbooks. Modern Language Journal, 96(3), 337–349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bailey, J. M., & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behaviour and sexual orientation: a conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31, 43–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Banegas, D. L. (2010). Teaching more than English in secondary education. ELT Journal, 65(1), 80–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Banville, S. (2005). Creating ESL/EFL lessons based on news and current events. The Internet TESL Journal, 11(9). Retrieved January 27, 2008, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Banville-News/

  • Besen, Y., & Zicklin, G. (2007). Young men, religion and attitudes towards homosexuality. Journal of Men Masculinities and Spirituality, 1(3), 250–266.

    Google Scholar 

  • Block, D. (2007). Second language identities. London: Continuum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Britzman, D. (2000). Precocious education. In S. Talburt & S. Steinberg (Eds.), Thinking queer: sexuality, culture, and education (pp. 33–60). New York: Peter Lang.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research methods in education (7th ed.). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Council of Europe. (2001). Common European framework of reference for the teaching of languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crookes, G. (2009). Values, philosophies, and beliefs in TESOL. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalley, P., & Campbell, M. D. (2006). Constructing and contesting discourses of heteronormativity: an ethnographic study of youth in a Francophone high school in Canada. Journal of Language Identity and Education, 5, 11–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, L. M. (2008). Female bisexuality from adolescence to adulthood: results from a 10-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 44, 5–14.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dumas, J. (2008). The ESL classroom and the queerly shifting sands of learner identity. TESL Canada Journal, 26(1), 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dumas, J. (2010). Sexual identity and the LINC classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(4), 607–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ellwood, C. (2006). On coming out and coming undone: sexualities and reflexivities in language education research. Journal of Language Identity and Education, 5, 67–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power. Harlow: Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fiarclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: the critical study of language. Harlow: Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Georgiou, G. J., Modinos, A., Papageorgiou, N., Papantoniou, L., & Peristianis, N. (2006). Cyprus - The international encyclopedia of sexuality. Nicosia: Wittenberg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: towards a CP of learning. South Hadley: Bergin & Garvey.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giroux, H. A. (1997). Pedagogy and the politics of hope: theory, culture, and schooling: a critical reader. Boulder: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gordon, D. (2004). “I’m tired. You clean and cook”.: shifting gender identities and second language socialization. TESOL Quarterly, 38(3), 437–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Griffin, P., D’Errico, K. H., Harro, B., & Schiff, T. (2007). Heterosexism curriculum design. In M. Adams, L. A. Bell, & P. Griffin (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (2nd ed., pp. 195–218). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grimbeek, P., Bryer, F., Beamish, W., & D’Netto, M. (2005). Use of data collapsing strategies to identify latent variables in questionnaire data: strategic management of junior and middle school data on the Cognitive Holding Power (CHP) questionnaire. In B. Bartlett, F. Bryer, & D. Roebuck (Eds.), Stimulating the action as participants in participatory research (Vol. 2, pp. 125–139). Brisbane: School of Cognition, Language, and Special Education, Griffith University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Herek, G. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (1999). Sex differences in how heterosexuals think about lesbians and gay men: evidence from survey context effects. Journal of Sex Research, 36(4), 348–360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Higgins, C. (2009). English as a local language: post-colonial identities and multilingual practices. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  • Holton, R. (2000). Globalization’s cultural consequences. The Annals of the American Academy, 570, 140–52. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huntington, S. P. (1997). The clash of civilizations: remaking of world order. New York: Touchstone.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kapsou, M., Christofi, A., & Epaminonda, M. (2011). A report on sexual orientation in Cyprus: mapping the sociopolitical climate, experiences and needs. Nicosia: Cyprus Family Planning Association & Accept LGBT Cyprus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kite, M. E., & Whitley, B. E., Jr. (1996). Sex differences in attitudes towards homosexual persons, behaviours and civil rights: a meta-analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 336–352.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kougl, K. (1997). Communicating in the classroom. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kourieos, S., & Evripidou, D. (2013). Students’ perceptions of effective EFL teachers in university settings in Cyprus. English Language Teaching, 6(11), 1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lock, J., & Kleis, B. (1998). Origins of homophobia in males: psychosexual vulnerabilities and defence development. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 52(4), 425–436.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • MacAndrew, R., & Martinez, R. (2001). Taboos and issues: photocopiable lessons on materials. In L. Perez Ruiz, I. Pizarro Sanchez, & E. Gonzalez Cascos (Eds.), Estudos de Metodología de la LenguaInglesa (IV). España: Universidad de Valladolid Publicacíons, Centro Buendía, Valladolid.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCroskey, J. C., & Dunham, R. E. (1966). Ethos: a confounding element in communication research. Communication Monographs, 17, 456–463.

    Google Scholar 

  • Menard-Warwick, J. (2005). Both a fiction and an existential fact: theorizing identity in second language acquisition and literacy studies. Linguistics and Education, 16, 253–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, C. D. (1993). Heterosexism in ESL: examining our attitudes. TESOL Quarterly, 27(1), 143–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, C. D. (1999). Sexual identities in ESL: queer theory and classroom Inquiry. TESOL Quarterly, 33(3), 371–391. doi:10.2307/3587670.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, C. D. (2009). Sexual identities in English language education: classroom conversations. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelson, C. D. (2010). A gay immigrant student’s perspective: unspeakable acts in the language class. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 441–464.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norton Peirce, B. (1995). Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29, 9–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norton, B., & McKinney, C. (2011). Identity and second language acquisition. In D. Atkinson (Ed.), Alternative approaches to second language acquisition (pp. 73–94). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norton, B., & Pavlenko, A. (Eds.). (2004). Gender and English language learners. Alexandria: TESOL Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norton, B., & Toohey, K. (2002). Identity and language learning. In R. B. Kaplan (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 115–123). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pavlenko, A. (2004). Gender and sexuality in foreign and second language education: critical and feminist approaches. In B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds.), Critical pedagogies and language learning (pp. 53–71). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Petrides, J. R. (2006). Attitudes and motivation and their impact on the performance of young English as a foreign language learners. Journal of Language and Learning, 5(1), 1–20.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, C., & Sarangi, S. (1995). “But are they one of us?” managing and evaluating identities in work-related contexts. Multilingua Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication, 14, 363–390. doi:10.1515/mult.1995.14.4.363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rowatt, W., Tsang, J. A., Kelly, J., LaMartina, B., McCullers, M., & McKinley, A. (2006). Associations between religious personality dimensions and implicit homosexual prejudice. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 3, 397–406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Russ, T. L., Simonds, C. J., & Hunt, S. K. (2002). Coming out in the classroom…an occupational hazard?: the influence of sexual orientation on teacher credibility and perceived student learning. Communication Education, 51(3), 311–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Senior, R. (2007). Discussing controversial topics. English Teaching Professional, 50. Retrieved January 27, 2008, from http://www.etprofessional.com /content/view/988/48/

  • Singh, P., & Doherty, C. (2004). Global cultural flows and pedagogic dilemmas: teaching in the global university ‘contact zone.’. TESOL Quarterly, 38(1), 9–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Small, J. (2003). The potential of language education: a global issues perspective .The Language Teacher Online, 27(3). Retrieved February 12, 2008, from http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/articles/2003/03/small.

  • Summerhawk, B. (1998). From closet to classroom: gay issues in ESL/EFL. The Language Teacher, 22(5), 21–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tekin, M. (2011). Discussing the unspeakable: a study on the use of taboo topics in EFL speaking classes. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 7(1), 79–110.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thanasoulas, D. (2001). The importance of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom. Racial Pedagogy, 3(3), 1–24. Retrieved February 12, 2008, from http://radicalpedagogy.icaap.org/content/issue3_3/7-thanasoulas.html.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thornbury, S. (1999). Window-dressing vs. cross-dressing in the. EFL Sub-Culture Material Development Association Folio, 5(2), 15–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toohey, K. (2000). Learning English at school: identity, social relations and classroom practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tsagari, D. (2012). Classroom evaluation in EFL state-schools in Greece and Cyprus: towards ‘assessment literacy’. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 27, 127–149.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vandrick, S. (1994). Feminist pedagogy and ESL. College English, 4(2), 69–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vandrick, S. (1997). The role of hidden identities in the ESL postsecondary classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 31(1), 153–157.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vandrick, S. (2001). Teaching sexual identity issues in ESL classes. Paper presented at The Annual Meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, St. Louis, MO, USA.

  • Vincenti, D., Giovanangeli, A., & Ward, R. (2007). The queer stopover: how queer travels in the language classroom. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 4(1), 58–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wadell, E., Frei, K., & Martin, S. (2011). Professional development through inquiry: addressing sexual identity in TESOL. The CATESOL Journal, 23(1), 99–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Wills, G., & Crawford, R. (2000). Attitudes toward homosexuality in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. Journal of Homosexuality, 38, 97–116.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yiakoumetti, A., & Mina, M. (2013). Language choices by teachers in EFL classrooms in Cyprus: bidialectism meets bilingualism with a call for teacher training programmes in linguistic variation. Teacher Development, 17(2), 214–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yip, A. (2005). Queering religious texts: an exploration of British non-heterosexual Christians and Muslims’ strategy of constructing sexuality affirming hermeneutics. Sociology, 39(1), 47–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshihara, R. (2011). Learning and teaching gender and sexuality issues in the EFL classroom: where students and teachers stand. The Language Teacher, 37(5), 8–11.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dimitris Evripidou.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Evripidou, D., Çavuşoğlu, Ç. English Language Teachers’ Attitudes Towards the Incorporation of Gay- and Lesbian-Related Topics in the Classroom: the Case of Greek Cypriot EFL Teachers. Sex Res Soc Policy 12, 70–80 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0176-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-014-0176-3

Keywords

  • TESOL
  • Gay and lesbian topics
  • Sexual identities
  • EFL/ESL classroom