Negotiating Sexualities, Constructing Possibilities: Teachers and Diversity

  • Jukka Lehtonen
  • Tarja Palmu
  • Elina Lahelma


Teachers are everyday agents in negotiating regimes of sexuality in school settings and other educational institutions. They tackle issues related to sexual diversity and harassment, and contribute to the definition of what constitutes ‘proper’ sexuality, in the context of a heteronormative school culture (see also Chapter 6 and Chapter 8). Their views and practices also influence the ways in which students think about sexuality. In this chapter, we use the concept ‘heteronormativity’ to refer to a way of thinking characterised by a restricted view in which heterosexual maleness and heterosexual female-ness represent the natural, legitimate, desirable and often the only possible alternatives of being a human and a member of a school or a work community. This type of understanding of heteronormativity is based largely on the thoughts of Judith Butler (1990, 1993), who uses the terms heterosexual matrix and heterosexual hegemony to describe the ideological power system which makes people understand sex, gender and sexuality in heteronormative ways. Heteronormative thinking is present in institutions, structures, interpersonal relations and practices. ]However, as a cultural and social construct, heteronormativity is open to challenge (Lehtonen, 2003). While all the time visible in informal processes that take place in schools (see, for example, Gordon et al., 2000; Kehily and Nayak, 1996), issues around sexuality are rarely raised in teacher education (Lehtonen, 2012).


Sexual Orientation Sexual Harassment Sexual Minority Teacher Student Feminist Pedagogy 
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© Jukka Lehtonen, Tarja Palmu and Elina Lahelma 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jukka Lehtonen
  • Tarja Palmu
  • Elina Lahelma

There are no affiliations available

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