Living Gender in Diverse Times: Young People’s Understandings and Experiences of Gender Diversity in the UK: A briefing for schools, youth service, charities and other third sector organisations working with young people

Mark Jennett , Joe Hall, Sally Hines, Sharon Elley, Karen Cutherbert

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

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Abstract

Newspapers, television, and online media often report that young people are increasingly rejecting traditional gender labels and embracing gender diversity. The popularity of gender diverse celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Sam Smith and TV shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race are often cited in the media to suggest that young people are discarding gender norms. Academic research also indicates that traditional gender identities and expressions are being less rigidly experienced by young people. These cultural shifts are accompanied by an increasing social awareness of gender diversity and greater legal protections for gender
diverse people in many countries.

Yet, young people’s experiences continue to be characterized by regulatory gender norms and a rigid gender binary structured around the categories of male and female. This means that young people’s perceptions and life choices are still strongly influenced by persistent stereotypes about what it means to be a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’. Gender stereotypes influence and constrain us at every stage of our lives – often in ways of which we are unaware – and transphobic and sexist bullying remain commonplace. While many who work with young people are striving to support them to explore their own gender identities and understand
those of others, negative assumptions about transgender continue to be pervasive. Worryingly, ‘gender critical’ assumptions about gender that stress the ‘naturalness’ of a male/female binary model have also found their way into schools under the guise of relationship and sex education materials.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Gender diversity
  • Youth
  • Education
  • Young People

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