Engaging Complexities Lesbian_ Gay_ Bisexual and Transgender by yurtgc548


									The Pitfalls of Box-Ticking: Intersectionality
     and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
  Transgender Equalities Work in the UK
      Dr. Surya Monro (University of Sheffield)
    Prof Diane Richardson (Newcastle University)
       Dr. Ann McNulty (Newcastle University)
           Aims of presentation
 Address the ‘box-ticking’ issue in relation to LGBT
  equalities initiatives in local government
 Explore intersectionality theory in relationship to the
  strategic use of categorisation (‘boxes’)
 Provide a snapshot of ongoing empirical work
            Structure of presentation

Sexualities Equalities in Local Government project
–   Background
–   Policy context
–   Methods
–   Key analytic themes
–   Project update
Intersectionality theory
The role of categorisation in sexualities equalities work
Difficulties with categorisation
Do we need categorisation?
Indicative conclusion
 Policy Context: Key legislation
Equality Regulations (Sexual Orientation) 2007
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
Gender Recognition Act (2004)
Civil Partnership Act (2004)
Proposed Single Equality Act
Section 75 (Northern Ireland 1998)
    Local Government Context
Local government modernisation agenda
– Equalities Standard (England)
– Equalities Improvement Framework and Equalities Schemes
– Local government White Paper (2006)
– Impact Assessments (England)
– The impact of the Corporate Performance Assessment
  (Comprehensive Area Assessment from 2009) (England)
– Equalities and Human Rights Commission (England and Wales)
– Equalities Commission (Northern Ireland)
– Other aspects including growth of partnerships, emphasis on
  increased public participation, and the new localism
– Equalities work implemented by mainstreaming and performance
Sexualities Equalities in Local Government

In depth qualitative work with four Local Authorities
North England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Southern
Four Action Learning Sets (one in each area)
Each set meeting four times over 4-6 months
Focus groups with Councillors
Interviews with key national players
       Key Analytic Themes
Processes of local authority resistance and compliance
re LGBT equalities initiatives (and within LGBT
communities, especially regarding different
sexual/gender minorities)

Organisational Cultural Change

Debates concerning understandings of sexuality,
citizenship and democracy
               Project Update

North England Case Study and ALS Completed
Welsh Case Study and ALS Completed
South England Case Study Completed
Northern Ireland Case Study Ongoing
33 Case Study Interviews Completed
National Stakeholder Interviews Ongoing

South of England ALS

Two Focus Groups with Councillors

Conferences for stakeholders
  Intersectionality theory – background and
  Term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw (1989)
  Intersectionality claimed by some (e.g. Leslie McCall
  2005) as key contribution of women’s studies
  Important in:
   – Highlighting subjectivities at sites of multiple marginalisation
   – Addressing the way that identities are routed through each other
   – Highlighting the way that social forces can work in different
   – Can be used at individual, cultural, or institutional levels
   Definitions now include:
‘the mutually constitutive relations among social identities’
   (Shields 2008: 301)
       Intersectionality: Categorisation

Davis (2009) discusses the tensions between postmodernist
concern to deconstruct categories and the interests amongst critical
feminist theorists in the material consequences of this
Also evident in McCall’s (2005)
anticategorical/intracategorical/intercategorical typology
This tension evident elsewhere – including transgender politics
(Monro 2005, forthcoming) – crux is need for identity categories as
basis for identification and organisation, but focus on individual
categories obscures intersectional diversity and reinforces
categories themselves
Some (e.g. Weldon 2008) address by arguing for some
intersectional and some additive effects of gender, race, class
        Difficulties with categorisation

Acronym and terms
 – Trans is ‘about gender’
 – Hierarchies within the ‘LGBT’ group:
– I can understand that there is a need to have separate social
  networks sometimes, because the funding goes mainly towards
  gay men because of HIV, I can understand that being kind of
  ‘well they get the money, we’re not getting the money, so we
  need to sort of establish something ourselves and then push for
  it’ (Housing project community worker, North East)
– ‘Tagging on’ of bi and trans e.g. ‘I couldn’t say for example,
  that we’ve specifically done some work just with bisexual people (Officer
  North East)
– Language, e.g. ‘I prefer to use the term sexual orientation, it
  doesn’t translate well into Welsh though’ (Officer, Wales)

The separation of the strands – and the marginal
position of LGBT equalities
Institutionalisation of heteronormativity
Dumping of LGBT issues on LGBT ‘champions’
Other forms of difference can be obscured (eg health,
relationship status, spatial, nationality, class):
– I – Yeah, you’ll have some that, you know, have the resources, you
  know, they have a car, they have money, they can go to places like
  Manchester, Liverpool, where there is a high concentration of LGBT
  people and a hive of activity going on in these places (-)
– S – Yeah.
– I – You have those who are probably on Sickness Benefit, live in a flat,
  so economically they’re not well off, you know they can’t afford, they
  don’t have transport, so they may feel very lonely and isolated and
  excluded because they don’t have the resources by which to access
  these places (Welsh Community Member)
              Do we need categories?

Specificities of LGBT marginalisation, e.g.:
 – ‘there are higher levels of mental health problems, lots of sort of self
   harm, we encounter lots of people who self harm, suicide attempts is
   quite a common thing, um, all of these stem from the fact that they don’t
   feel, well there’s a connection anyway between their sexual orientation
   or their gender identity and their mental health and that often their sense
   of themselves isn’t one that they’re made to feel happy or proud or
   accepting of (Housing Officer North East)
 – if you are a 16 year old that’s just been thrown out of your home for
   coming out, and you go and live in another form of supported living
   [than an LGB-specific one] you might not feel comfortable talking to a
   key worker about being gay, it could potentially be a homophobic
   environment’ (Officer, Wales)
 – ‘you’ve always got your approved-of disability, approved-of equalities,
   because not the fault of the disabled, but some people, you’ve chosen a
   certain lifestyle… (Officer, Wales)

– I - I have been told, ‘oh my god, how far does this damned
  equalities gender agenda go?’, you know, ‘for goodness sake, is
  nothing safe?’…
– S – And what do you think that’s about?
– I – I think it’s about perhaps people being embarrassed, I think
  it’s about, ‘we got this far without thinking about that’, you know,
  ‘oh, we’re a local authority for goodness sake, leave that to
  Stonewall or somebody’, ‘we can’t go out to families, we can’t
  put that sort of [inaudible] on our website, we can’t put a link, a
  link to Stonewall off the council’s website’ [tone of disbelief]
  (Officer, Wales)

Communication – ‘LGBT’ as a form of shorthand
Policy management requires categories, e.g.
– ‘it makes it manageable which is what all these things do…em,
  not scaring people off, thinking, right we actually have 107
  equality issues to consider here’ (Officer, Wales).
Strategic use e.g.
– ‘we had a racist incidents reporting procedure which originally just
   focussed on ethnicity but due to work with our LGBT staff group and
   work with LGBT communities we managed to expand that system to
   include the reporting of homophobic incidents’ (Officer, North East)
Accountability within an audit culture, evidence base

Evidence of attention to intersectionality in the more
advanced localities, e.g.:
– ‘they may have multiple categories for potential prejudice or
  discrimination, they may be gay and Asian for example, and
  there are sometimes like specific issues, you know, culturally, we
  bring people to the service whereby culturally and religiously
  there was no opportunity for them to express themselves and
  their sexual orientation and still be within their family. You know,
  on a personal level I know someone who’s like left home at the
  age of about 17 and never spoken to their family (Housing
  Worker North East)

Importance for community organisation, e.g.
– ‘there was kind of resistance for them all to be together from
  some people, but I think overall we realised that it was kind of
  stronger to be together and kind of like if T, if trans issues aren’t
  dealt with within LGBT then they’re not gonna, they’re going to
  tend to be sort of pushed aside a little bit, which would be a
  shame’ (Housing project community worker North East).
– ‘people complain that the T in LGBT is the tail on the dog, I said,
  ‘yes it is, but it’s a big dog with teeth’, you know, on our own
  we’re a tiny little animal that people just ignore but if we’re part of
  that grouping, it’s much harder to ignore us ‘cause we’ve got a
  much bigger organisation (Trans community member)
             Indicative conclusion

‘Box ticking’ may be rhetorical but can be used to get
sexuality equalities on the agenda
The usefulness of sexuality categorisation more broadly
depends on context
Categorisation can be used strategically to advance
sexualities equalities
It is impossible to deal with equalities within local
authorities without categorisation, but there are dangers
associated with sedimenting categories, so need for
attention to intersectionality

Intersectional theory is useful for understanding
sexualities equalities work in:
– Drawing attention to neglected interstices
– Addressing the relationships between equalities categories
– Addressing the hierarchies within the ‘LGBT’ acronym
– Providing a means for starting to tackle the
  deconstructionist/categorisation tensions evident in local
  authority equalities work
– Providing a means of bringing in attention to power inequalities,
  providing that analysis does not remain at the level of the

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