The schooling and university experiences of ethnic, gender and sexuality diverse young adults in Sydney
The experiences and wellbeing of students have been a longstanding concern for scholars, educators, activists, parents, policymakers and other stakeholders of schooling and higher education in Australia, one of the most multicultural societies in the world. However, despite its significant multicultural and immigrant populations, questions of citizenship and belonging continue to be fundamentally tied to a national ethics shaped by whiteness as the basis of ‘Australian’ values of fairness and egalitarianism, which has sociomaterial consequences for young people at school and university, not least those who are ethnicity, sexuality and gender diverse.
While considerable attention has been paid to understanding LGBTQ+ young people’s experiences at the intersections of sexuality and gender diversity, much work in the area fails to engage substantively with ethnic difference. This presentation explores the schooling and university experiences of LGBTQ+ young adults in Australia, of Lebanese, Indian and ‘Anglo’ heritage, along the intersections of ethnic, sexuality and gender difference. Thematic analysis of participants’ narratives suggests that young people continue to experience everyday challenges that affect their wellbeing and participation in school. Paradoxically, despite these difficulties, a sociomaterial analysis of the findings suggest that young people generally feel safe and supported, often through informal means. These students therefore feel ‘safe-unsafe’, where ‘safe and unsafe are not distinct and binary experiences, but in any moment always entangled unstably together’ (Allen et al., 2020, p. 9).
Sujith Kumar recently submitted his PhD on sexual citizenship and belonging among Lebanese, Indian and Anglo LGBTQ+ young people in Sydney, which he completed through the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales. His research and teaching interests are in 'identity' (particularly racial, sexual, national and religious), inequality, citizenship, education, and social experiences of health and illness.
A Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) seminar.
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