A tripartite investigation into narratives of sexuality, gender, and the role of fiction for children and young people in shaping LGBT+ exclusion and inclusion

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This interdisciplinary thesis is concerned with modalities of power and domination in relation to youth and sexuality in three societal discourses in the U.K. - politics, culture, and education - in the context of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Framed by poststructuralism and queer theory, it is comprised of three qualitative studies. Study 1 is a Foucauldian genealogy of the 1986-1988 parliamentary debates surrounding Section 28's enactment. This analysis focuses on the deployment of children's literature with non-heterosexual content and the discursive political constructions of youth and sexuality. Study 2 is a directed content analysis of 16 British Young Adult novels with non-heterosexual content, engaging with the books as cultural artefacts to understand how they construct experiences of sexuality and childhood. This analysis is contextualised against the backdrop of key LGBT+ legal reforms. Finally, Study 3 is a thematic analysis of the views of eight teachers in Scotland on the pedagogical potential of LGBT+ children's literature. Four original contributions are made. First is the contribution to theoretical and empirical understandings of Section 28, the motivations behind the legislation, and the foregrounding of sexuality in 1980s British politics. Second, the thesis contributes to understandings of British LGB children's literature published after Section 28, revealing an evolution in cultural constructions of sexuality and youth. Third, it enlarges understandings of the pedagogical affordances of LGBT+ children's literature, revealing an imperative for LGBT+ inclusive education. Finally, it identifies a framework for continuing professional development in relation to such education.
Date of Award10 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorVivienne Smith (Supervisor) & Ian Rivers (Supervisor)

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