Lesbian, gay and bisexual citizenship: a case study as represented in a sample of South African Life Orientation textbooks
Reygan, Finn C. G.
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Over the past two decades, sexual citizenship has emerged as a new form of citizenship coupled with increased interest in the challenges to citizenship and social justice faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and, in particular, by sexual minority youth within education systems. In South Africa, the rights of LGBTI people have been institutionalised in legislation, and research has begun to consider how educators may facilitate a more inclusive school environment for LGBTI youth. Given the focus of the Department of Education on social justice, the present study examines how selected Life Orientation (LO) textbooks for Grades 7 to 12 in South African schools represent and construct LGBTI identities. The study generally finds inconsistency in the representation of these identities. Gay male identities are represented in some instances, lesbian and bisexual identities rarely so, and transgender and intersex identities not at all. Two of the four series examined are almost entirely silent about LGBTI identities. This invisibility negates the different ‘ways of knowing’ of LGBTI learners; tends not to facilitate students in critiquing the discrimination, prejudice and social injustices faced by many LGBTI people, and lessens the importance of social justice and citizenship education in this field in South Africa.