LGBTQ Youth, Physical Education, and Sexuality Education: Affect, Curriculum, and (New) Materialism

Dillon Landi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In this thesis, I examine the affective experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth in physical and sexuality education. In so doing, I draw on curriculum and new materialist theories to explore the ways in which particular events influenced the lives of LGBTQ students and their senses of self. As part of a fivemonth ethnography with LGBTQ youth, I asked questions about their experiences in schoolbased health and physical education. I wanted to address the prime research question: How do LGBTQ youth perceive that they are affected by physical and sexuality education, and how do they perceive to generate affect in physical and sexuality education?

The above question was explored using a (new) materialist and critical ethnographic lens, with an LGBTQ support group named QueerTEENS. The majority of data used for this project was generated using ethnographic interviews with 60 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 25. The youth ranged in LGBTQ identities including, but not limited to, queer, gay, lesbian, transmasculine, transfeminine, and bisexual. In order to explore the experiences of the LGBTQ youth, I drew on curricular and new materialist theories.

The findings suggest that as an academic subject, health and physical education consistently oscillates between moments of stasis and change. In particular, the curricular aligned practices tend to striate practices to reproduce traditional notions of health, gender, and sexuality. These traditional practices may also limit the expressions of LGBTQ youth in schools. Despite this, LGBTQ students are constantly affecting the field of health and physical education by influencing teachers, curriculum, and practices to shift to be more inclusive. As a result, the field is forced to swing toward moments of transformation in order to stay relevant with youth culture. This thesis then, explores the complex potential of health and physical education to reinforce normative discourses while also affecting change in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Auckland
Award date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2019


  • LGBTQ students
  • gender
  • health education
  • physical education
  • LGBTQ youth


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