Hetero – and cisnormativity – UK pharmacy education as a queer opponent

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Queer pedagogy is a lens through which the hegemonic discourses of curricula and the heterosexual assumptions within them can be made visible. Using this lens, sexuality and gender norms incorporated in undergraduate medical and health curricula can be located and the lived experience of a curriculum considered. This paper seeks to determine the extent of hetero/cisnormativity within UK pharmacy education with the aim of problematising the normalisation of heterosexuality; following this, strategies to disrupt structured hetero/cisnormativity are considered.

Online cross-sectional surveys were distributed to course leads (n=29) and students enrolled on undergraduate pharmacy (MPharm) programmes. Surveys captured quantitative data on curriculum design and perceived barriers to implementation of inclusive curriculum design (the espoused LGBTQI+ curriculum), as well qualitative data on the lived experience of the hidden curriculum. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, while qualitative data were analysed thematically.

Responses were received from 19 course leads and students from 25 MPharm programmes, representing varying completion rates. Findings suggest the shared values and goals of pharmacy education act to normalise and legitimise hetero and cis identities within curriculum design, that othering as a consequence of heterosexual normativity is experienced and that pharmacy education is an LGBTQI+ opponent and does not adopt an ally attitude. Moreover, both educator and student data suggest that the enacted and experienced curriculum fails to prepare learners to care for LGBTQI+ people.

Despite findings suggesting the espoused or enacted curriculum absents LGBTQI+ people, and the hidden curriculum is experienced as homonegative, learners are questioning, resisting and disrupting the hetero- and cis-normative benevolent heterosexism within UK pharmacy curricula. This method of curricula interrogation can be adopted across health professions education as a means for ongoing problematising and disruption of normativity in clinical education.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Education.
Early online date12 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jan 2023


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