Hatton, Jean, Williams, Frances and Chapman, Ann (2011) Queering Inside Out: Professionals’ Reflections on Practice. In: BERA SIG, 6-8 September 2011, Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

Should youth and community work practitioners and trainers use their own identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) to support the learning of students in Higher Education (HE) and young people in informal education?
As educators how we use our identity within professional settings is an issue that all practitioners, especially those who identify as LGBT or Queer must explore. In this paper the authors present some initial findings as to whether the issues and challenges are the same for youth and community workers, academics teaching in the field and for students and young people they work with. We seek to examine issues including the difference between naming yourself ‘Queer’ rather than ’LGBT’ and whether we, as ‘out’ lesbians within our work place, are letting our ‘hetero’ colleagues off the hook.
Our research used an autoethnographic approach: ‘sharing politicized, practical, and cultural stories that resonate with others’ (Adams & Jones 2011:111). We recognise that our stories are not the truth but are contextual (Bourdieu, 1992).They are selective accounts, some made consciously and some made unconsciously although we aim to be as transparent as possible about our ‘conscious partiality’ (Bourdieu in Miles, 1993).
We focussed on our individual identity and journeys and shared collective identities (Bruner 2004, Buchroth and Parkin, 2010) and used our collective accounts as a means of reflection on our educational approaches. In providing a reflexive account we are intending to stimulate debate with others about their sexual identity narrative accounts.
As lesbians we discuss how our identity relative to queer theory presented through narratives of our lived experiences can support our role as educators. We examine the usefulness of issues raised by Queer Theorists for educators within HE and practitioners of youth and community work. We look at a range of ideas including Butler’s Theory of Performativity (1999), the usefulness of ‘Queering of the public discourse’ (Shildrick, 1997:192), challenging of the binary division (Stein and Plummer, 1994) and using ‘Queer’ as a ‘deliberately disruptive term’ (Marinucci, 2010:33 citing Halperin, 2003).
The active dynamic between theory and practice in developing our critical analysis and the challenge of translating this learning back into our educational practice is a recurring theme throughout our research.

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