Primary schools in nowadays Japan: a breeding ground for homophobia?
Aline Henninger (Orléans University)
Paper short abstract:
I will analyse ways in which institutional heteronormativity operates in Japanese primary schools. This presentation will be sustained by my fieldwork data. I conducted an ethnographic research in four primary schools in Tokyo area and Yamagata area from 2013 October to 2014 June.
Paper long abstract:
Concern for school-based homophobia is increasing in Japan, yet there is a tendency to focus on individual incidents of homophobic bullying rather than the cultural and institutional factors supporting them. This topic is mostly related to high school and university period. I will analyse ways in which institutional heteronormativity operates in Japanese primary schools. This presentation will be sustained by my fieldwork data. I conducted an ethnographic research in four primary schools in Tokyo area and Yamagata area from 2013 October to 2014 June and I also attended during 2013-2014 year to meetings of sex education and women's questions research groups that were organized by teachers or primary school administrators The data from my study suggests that homophobia exists within primary settings and that children as young as six employ discriminatory language. The study details that incidents of homophobia include those related to gender identity; perceptions of masculinity and femininity; school and workplace bullying and multimedia coverage of homosexuality. I also asked children how they perceive the role of the representations of LGBT communities exist in many media outlets. In last decade in Japan, much has been achieved in recent years in the acceptance of high profile LGBT celebrities in popular mainstream culture; including arts and culture aimed at or accessed by primary schoolchildren. However, interviews show that children who like Matsuko Deluxe or Kaba-chan are still confusing sexual orientation and transvestite appearances. LGBT people are still viewed as grotesque people far from daily routine of the primary school children. The study demonstrates that barriers to tackling homophobia exist in primary schools and that these may stem from staff, teachers training and attitude towards gender equality issues and school policy. Still, Japanese education system continues to exclude these gender discrimination issues and maintains its conservative gender hierarchy. Keywords: homophobia; homophobic; homosexuality; primary schools; teachers; education; children.
Homophobia in contemporary Japan