Engaging with Girl's Friendships As A Site Of Sexuality And Relationship Education: Implications For School Based Sexuality Education Programmes

Year: 2017

Author: Hattam, Robert, Rigney, Lester-Irabinna, Kelly, Stephen, Wrench, Alison, Paige, Kathy, Brennan, Marie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the rhizomic possibilities that girl's friendships offer as a site of sexuality and relationships education, and the implications of engaging with them in school based sexuality education programmes.

Research conducted over an extended number of years indicates the persistent slippage between how young people are learning about and relationships in their own lives, and school based sexuality education programmes, and argues that prioritising young people's lived experiences, is both desirable and necessary in schools (Alldred and David, 2007; Allen, 2011; Fine, 1992; Kehily. 2002; McLelland and Fine, 2014).

I argue that foregrounding young people's lived experiences of sex and gender politics in sex ed programmes requires substantial curricular and pedagogical re-conceptualisation. The Deleuzo-Guattarian (1987) concept of rhizomatics, as both an analytic and a politic (Youdell, 2011) provides an approach that could enable school- based sexuality education programmes to build on the young peoples' experiences.

Drawing on data from a project that explores the multiple ways high school students are negotiating contemporary sexuality and gender politics in their own lives(Quinlivan, 2015), I map instances of 'becoming other' that emerge in a friendship between two young women I have been researching with over the last six years.

Drawing on my research encounters, I show that connecting to young peoples' broader sexuality education assemblages involves cultivating an experimental curricular and pedagogical orientation to teaching and learning that holds both possibilities and challenges.