Defying Hetero Normativity When Defining Acceptance, On Hetero Normativity in Quantitative Effectiveness Studies
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Complex concepts like acceptance and tolerance are often measured through statistics in quantitative effectiveness studies in the field of sociology. In this thesis, I argue that measuring and defining these concepts requires a consideration of standpoint epistemology, because acceptance and tolerance are concepts that revolve around power and dominance, and different social positions of power provide with different perspectives on these matters. In the context of the Netherlands, I observe a certain level of tolerance when it comes to attitudes towards sexual diversity: sexual minority individuals are accepted, so long as they behave ‘normally’ and their behaviours are not too visible. I argue that these tolerant attitudes indicate processes of othering, and a strong presence of hetero normativity that puts heterosexual people and their experiences at the centre of society and pushes sexual minority groups to the margins. Furthermore, I argue that the intersectional identities of religious sexual minority groups, and more specifically: orthodox Christian sexual minority groups, requires an intersectional research approach, since religious groups are generally found to be more negative towards sexual diversity on the one hand, which can lead to negative attitudes from sexual minority groups towards religious groups on the other hand, creating a dichotomy that puts religious sexual minority individuals in a vacuum space. I examine to what extent these dynamics affect effectiveness studies, as I critically analyse the research that Henriëtte Boersma conducted on the effectiveness of the Homo in de Klas method, which is an intervention that seeks to improve the social position of sexual minority individuals at orthodox Christian high schools. I argue that in order to define acceptance, research such as Boersma’s needs to have a certain level of awareness of hetero normativity. Furthermore, in order to measure levels of acceptance, they need to consider standpoint epistemology and use the perspectives of sexual minority people as starting points for their research, in order to avoid having hetero normative thinking affect the research.