A sociological exploration of lived experiences of LGBT people in the UK

FORMBY, Eleanor (2017). A sociological exploration of lived experiences of LGBT people in the UK. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00066


This body of work examines lived experiences of LGBT people within three sub-themes: sex and relationships education (SRE) and sexual health; homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying; understandings and experiences of LGBT ‘community’. I have identified a persistent invisibility of LGBT identities in school-based SRE and NHS healthcare provision, and argue that heteronormativity and heterosexism impact on sexual decision-making and sexual wellbeing. In particular, they foster fears about health services, specific concerns about confidentiality and/or disclosure, and fears about judgement or discrimination during health-related encounters. In work in school and youth work settings I have linked curriculum invisibility to experiences of homophobia, suggesting that there is more at play than individual experiences of ‘bullying’. I have highlighted the complexity of language use related to homophobia and bullying, and demonstrated that some school responses can (appear to) ‘abnormalise’ LGBT identities, for instance in referrals to counselling that young LGBT people can interpret as apportioning ‘blame’. I have also pointed to tensions between governmental efforts to address HBT bullying and, until recently, their lack of support for school-based SRE. In exploring constructions of LGBT ‘community’, I have demonstrated the complexity of experiences, and argued that use of the (singular) term ‘LGBT community’ risks minimising or misunderstanding such diversity, which has implications for service planning and provision. Across my work, I stress the importance of adopting a sociological approach to what are often psychologised subjects, demonstrated in my illustrations of people’s ongoing (LGBT) identity management. In doing so, I show how legislative developments do not always lead to improved experiences for LGBT people. However, I seek to influence policy and practice in a way that does not over-state LGBT people’s perceived ‘vulnerabilities’ or ‘at riskness’, and that does not portray (particularly young) LGBT people as inherent ‘victims’ in need of ‘support’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Merchant, Guy [0000-0001-8436-7675]
Additional Information: Published works.
Uncontrolled Keywords: PhD on the basis of published work
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00066
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2018 13:05
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:06
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20987

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