9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Open Session Building I, 1E10

(How) should sexual and family diversity be taught? The substantially but limitedly advanced case of Spain

Based on qualitative interviews carried out in the Spanish Autonomous Province of Catalonia in 2008 with families of lesbians and gay men with children and with the children's school teachers, the present study has found the school to be one of key elements contributing to the inclusion or exclusion of the families in question. Still, despite the fact that Spain boasts one the most progressive family legislations in Europe, its school curriculum, both the official and the hidden one, does not include LG families, which may have detrimental effects on their children's subjective well-being. One recent step towards the inclusion is the introduction of compulsory Citizenship Education. Drawing on the interviews, both the already implemented and the desirable inclusive and exclusionary school practices in relation to LG families are identified in the paper.
The analysis is carried out within the interactionist and critical communicative framework of the theory of communicative action by J. Habermas (1984) and the theory of performative acts by J. Butler (1990), operationalised as communicative acts according to J. Searle and M. Soler (2004). It reveals that inclusion is a product of an inter-play between context factors such as the school curriculum, and, on the other hand, the family members' ideas and agency. Under the present circumstances, where at school almost all the inclusion-oriented action for LG families is undertaken by their members themselves, the best effects are achieved by those families who employ the extreme open communication strategy, bearing resemblance to the affirmative action and related with performative acts of subversion. Nonetheless, an idea prevailing in the interviews is not one of affirmative action but one of normalisation, even if according to Habermas' and Butlers' frameworks it could be judged as less inclusive.