Tuesday, 6 January 2015

FW: From Freshers' week to Finals: using LGBT student perspectives of higher education to inform research and practice




From Freshers' week to Finals: using LGBT student perspectives of higher education to inform research and practice

Date - Wednesday 11th February 2015: 11.00 -15.30

Venue - SRHE, 73 Collier Street, London N1 9BE

Network - Access and Widening Participation

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT) students are increasingly visible in policy and practice, often in relation to issues of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying. However, this can result in misunderstandings and/or over-simplification about LGBT students' needs and experiences. In this seminar we draw together recent research in order to facilitate a more nuanced understanding of both LGBT students' experiences of higher education as well as how such research can inform and shape institutional practice. The session will be of particular interest to institutional policy makers, staff working in student support services or as widening participation practitioners, academic teaching and research staff, and those engaged in wider LGBT support activities. Students are also warmly encouraged to attend.


The anatomy of LGBTQ student agency: Queering learning in higher education?
Prof. Vicky Gunn, Glasgow School of Art

This presentation looks at the experience of sexual orientation 'difference' in the higher education context and how such experience impacts on students' learning both negatively and positively.  It takes as its point of departure the increasing queries being raised about how higher educationalists in the UK have come to work with notions of student learning in general.  Some queries have been raised about the potential self-reproductive nature of phenomenographic research and the dependence on cognitive psychology methodologies in the more dominant canon of student learning literature (Haggis, 2009).  Others are derived from concerns that the inter-subjective and subjective aspects of learning are missing or only discussed in passing (See Gunn, 2014; Gunn & McAllister, 2013).  This paper aims to rebalance the debate by looking at what being LGBTQ might mean in terms of how such students engage with their disciplines.  It will also attempt to reset the dominant discourse of 'struggle' in relation to LGBTQ students by focusing on how queer research is helping us to understand student agency in university learning contexts.

Freedom to study? Young LGBTQ people's perspectives on education beyond schooling.

Eleanor Formby, Sheffield Hallam University

Research with and about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people tends to concentrate on issues relating to secondary school and/or 'bullying'. Experiences and views on university and access to higher education have been less often explored. However, recent research conducted in Europe on behalf of IGLYO (the international LGBTQ youth and student organisation) focused specifically on the impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination on education and employment. Drawing on this research, this paper will examine LGBTQ perspectives on aspirations and plans for the future, and experiences of post-school studying, including influences on choice of studies, career and/or geographical home. For some, university was a positive experience that facilitated greater freedom to explore their identities, whilst for others university was not a place of safety or freedom as an LGBTQ person. Research data will be situated within the context of other research on LGBTQ experiences of higher education to draw out practice implications, and remaining evidence gaps.

Coming out, standing out, and being left out: Exploring the university experiences of LGBT students
Dr Michael Keenan, Nottingham Trent University
This presentation reports on the findings of a research project which explored the university experiences of LGBT students. Reflecting upon interactions with peers, staff and the wider institution the presentation illustrates the continuing centrality of feelings of difference and distance in LGBT student narratives. With reference to sexual citizenship the presentation draws out how formal and informal barriers to inclusion continue to impact upon the day to day experiences of LGBT students.


Vicky Gunn recently became Head of Learning and Teaching at Glasgow School of Art after 18 years as an academic developer and then Director of the Learning and Teaching Centre at Glasgow University. She has research interests in student learning, learning & teaching in the Arts & Humanities, queer theory and the intersections between the LGBT and Christian communities.

Eleanor Formby is a Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research interests centre on LGBT young people's life experiences, and on sex and sexualities within education contexts. She has published widely in these areas and is the author of a forthcoming book (with Routledge) entitled Exploring LGBT spaces and communities.

Michael Keenan is a lecturer in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University. Michael's research interests are around sexual and religious identities. His previous research has explored the experiences of gay men in the Anglican clergy, the sexual identities and experiences of young religious people, and the university experiences of LGBT students.

This seminar is one of four sessions being delivered across England aimed at raising public awareness of issues relating to the experiences of LGBT students and young people in accessing and experiencing higher education. The overall project is being delivered by Sheffield Hallam University, supported by the NUS, LGBT Youth North West, the Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYiT) and the Society for Research into Higher Education.


Note: Unless otherwise stated SRHE events are free to members, there is a charge of £60 for non-members.


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