Sexuality in a criminal justice curriculum: A study of student conceptualisations of gay identity

Sharon Hayes*, Matthew Ball

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Heteronormative discourses provide the most common lens through which sexuality is understood within university curricula. This means that sexuality is discussed in terms of categories of identity, with heterosexuality accorded primacy while all 'others' are indeed 'othered'. This article draws on research carried out by the authors in a core first year university ethics class, in which a fictional text was introduced with the intention of unpacking these discourses. An ethnographic study was undertaken where both students and teachers engaged in discussions over, and personal written reflections on, the textual content. In reporting the results of that study this article uses a post-structural framework to identify how classroom and textual discourses might be used to break down socially constructed categories of sexuality and students' conceptualisations of non-heterosexual behaviour. It was found that engaging in discussion in the context of the fictional text allowed some students to begin to recognise their own heteronormative views and engage in an informed critique of them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-287
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourses
  • Heteronormativity
  • Otherness
  • Pedagogy
  • Sexuality


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