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1981
Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1474-273X
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0896

Abstract

The lack of research on the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in Ireland’s higher education (HE) sector prompted this study, which aims to address the deficit. Semi-structured interviews were employed in tandem with photo-elicitation to gain a deeper and more personal capture of individual experiences. This article explores a number of questions relating to the Irish LGBTQ+ student experience in HE: what can photo-elicitation tell us about the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in terms of campus climate? How did photo-elicitation assist in exploring aspects of the LGBTQ+ student experience which were not part of the interview guide? LGBTQ+ students found an unconditional trusting love from their pets especially during stressful times, where they could disclose anything to them knowing they would not share this. This study provides an insight into the lives of newly ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students, caused due to a heteronormative secondary school which suppressed and denied LGBTQ+ identities. The absence of LGBTQ+ identities from the institutional memory further enforces the heteronormativity present in HE institutes and universities which often fail to record their experiences. Symbolism in the form of rainbow flags were cited as being significant to most LGBTQ+ students given the rejection of previous educational context and participants gave effusive portrayals on the importance of the rainbow flag on campus. The study highlighted how HE institutes can better support, understand and create an awareness of the challenges that many LGBTQ+ students face. I argue that employing an arts-based research model facilitated a deeper more nuanced understanding of the LGBTQ+ student experiences.

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2023-07-06
2024-06-21
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