Thriving Not Surviving: LGBTQ+ Students’, Staff, and Parents’ Experiences of Schools as Sites of Euphoria
Sexuality Research and Social Policy
Introduction: Internationally, research has shown Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/gender diverse, and Queer (LGBTQ+) people experience multifaceted challenges within school contexts. However, there is only a small emergent body of research on how LGBTQ+ community members might also experience positive, joyful, or euphoric experiences in these same spaces. Using euphoria and minority stress models, this article aims to consider whether schools themselves can be supportive and protective environments for LGBTQ+ people, how features of the school environment and school community might enable experiences of LGBTQ+ -related euphoria, and how euphoric experiences may be similar for students, staff and parents, and cisgender and gender diverse (GD) members of the LGBTQ+ community. Methods: The study employed elements of grounded theory to analyse survey responses of LGBTQ+ students (n = 706), school staff (n = 107), and parents (n = 57). The survey data was collected online from 2021 to 2022 and explored LGBTQ+ community members’ experiences in, and perceptions of, Australian schools. Results: Euphoria was predominantly related to school social contexts (such as supportive social climates), followed by school practices (such as LGBTQ+ representation), and internal experiences (such as pride). These events were shared by students, staff, and parents similarly. Euphoric events were shared by cisgender and GD participants, although gender-affirming social contexts and school practices were valued particularly by GD students, parents, and staff. Conclusions: Schools can act as supportive contexts for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and parents in terms of social characteristics and school practices using mostly similar methods. Implications for policy development include school-wide interventions that include and reflect all LGBTQ+ people in all education-based roles, via school curricula and activities, public education, and awareness-raising endeavours. Policy Implications: Implications for policy development include school-wide interventions that include and reflect all LGBTQ+ people in all education-based roles, via school curricula and activities, public education and awareness-raising endeavours.
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