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An exploration of lesbian and gay students experiences at a technical and vocational education and training in Harry Gwala district in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

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The purpose of the study is to explore the experiences of lesbian and gay students at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in a rural town of Kwa- Zulu Natal. The aim of the study is to understand how lesbian and gay students define being gay, how they are being treated and how they navigate in those spaces of discomfort within and beyond the college. The study looks at the treatment of students at the TVET College in Uzimkhulu, a rural town, in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This is a qualitative study and narrative inquiry design was also used for the study. Nine participants were sampled for the study through snowball sampling, six girls and three boys, who identified themselves as lesbians and gays. Semi-structured, focus group and visual methodology interviews were used as a tool for data generation. During the interviews the participants were asked questions about their experiences within and outside the college. Data were sorted and classified according to categories and themes. The study found that the participants understood what it means to be gay. The study also revealed that the majority of participants experienced difficulties when they come out to their parents, friends and community members. Some of the lesbian and gay students hide their sexual orientation because they avoid to be kicked out from their families. The study also reported that conservative nature of communities and social relations in the rural area pose an added difficult to gay and lesbian student. Patriarchy is more dominant and the community is under control of chiefs and this type of community has a strong anti-gay views and the conception that homosexuality is un-African. The study also revealed that there is an interpersonal conflict among gay groups because there are those members within the group who like to dominate like “butch”. Church also frowns upon homosexuals because church believers believe that it is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. College can help to create a welcoming environment for students and if all stakeholders involved play their role. College should establish non-discriminatory policy that protects discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity expression. Community members and parents should give support to all people who identified themselves as lesbians and gays and staff should support students in their academic exploration of LGBT issues.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.