Yet another minority issue, or good news for all? Approaching LGBT issues in European social work education
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This article addresses the questions of why to include and how to approach LGBT issues in the context of European social work education. Referring to social work's commitment to LGBT people, the article points out its ongoing relevance as questions of marginalisation and discrimination point far beyond formal equality in legislation and normalisation of homosexuality within existing societal institutions. Furthermore, new questions and dynamics in rapidly changing and highly diverse societal contexts bring about new challenges in addressing LGBT issues. Against this background, the article discusses problems of representation and knowledge and underlines the potential of a queer approach. A queer perspective questions taken-for-granted assumptions about sexual orientation, gender identity and intimate relationships. It challenges normalising categories of sex, gender and desire and brings out possibilities existing beyond the heteronormative order. This way, it offers social work education a powerful theoretical lens to address issues on sexual orientation and gender identity not only as yet another minority issue, but as transversal matter and as good news for all. In this article, we use the acronym LGBT to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. LGBT is meant to include and at the same time emphasise the differences between people who do not (exclusively) define themselves as heterosexual and who cannot or do not want to match or identify with binarities of sex, gender and desire. We do not use the acronym LGBTI because we find it problematic to include intersex people without taking explicitly into account their specific situations and needs. Making a plea for a queer approach, we share - of course - a critical view on categorisations and identity labels.