Sexuality and religion : from the court of appeal to the social work classroom

Mason, Karl and Cocker, Christine and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish (2022) Sexuality and religion : from the court of appeal to the social work classroom. Social Work Education, 41 (1). pp. 77-89. ISSN 0261-5479 (

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This paper critically reviews the case of a social work student whose professional training was terminated by his University and its' implications for social work education. This followed the student's expression of his religious views about homosexuality on a public social media platform. The student sought a judicial review of this decision on human rights grounds. The High Court dismissed the student’s challenge but the Court of Appeal overturned this decision to dismiss on the grounds of proportionality and referred the student back to the University to determine further action. This case is discussed in the context of the complicated positions taken up during the process leading to this legal Judgment, as they have implications for curriculum and pedagogical strategies, fitness to practice processes, and the experience of LGBTQ+ students. The discussion considers how, in light of this Judgment, social work educators can continue to address sexuality as a social justice issue. Critical and queer perspectives can support transformative learning where binary thinking about sexuality and religion is challenged and students can appreciate the impact of their values on others. Recommendations are made for addressing disparities in how sexuality, sexual, and gender diversity are addressed in professional education.