Epistemic injustice and bias towards LGBTQIA+ youth within schools
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth face harm and discrimination within schools. These harms are persistent. The argument of this thesis is that the philosophical field of social epistemology and especially the concept of epistemic injustice may provide an explanation for why these harms persist, as well as helping to reveal new ways forward for addressing them. The thesis takes the failed Safe Schools Coalition Australia program (SSCA), and the public debate about the program, as a case study for understanding and addressing the problem. This thesis is comprised of three chapters. Chapter 1 sets out the persistent nature of the harms that LGBTQIA+ youth face within schools. It also introduces the two key theorists whose work will inform my argument: Miranda Fricker (2007) and José Medina (2013). In this chapter I will apply their theoretical work in social epistemology to questions about the role of ignorance in perpetuating these harms, as well as to questions about responsibility for the failure of Safe Schools, and ongoing harms towards LGBTQIA+ youth. Chapter 2 draws on Medina’s concept of a resistant imagination to provide suggestions for change at the individual level. Finally, Chapter 3 argues that the Safe Schools program was an embodiment of what Medina calls a resistant imagination, and that the program offered a promising way forward, despite its initial failure. Drawing on arguments by Louise Richardson-Self, I make a case for reviving this program (or something equivalent) despite its having failed once.