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Psychology of Sexualities Section

The Psychology of Sexualities Section of the British Psychological Society aims to provide an integrative forum for those involved in research, teaching and applied work in the United Kingdom.

About

The Section exists to serve members whose work is relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues and is strongly committed to developing non-heterosexist and gender-inclusive forms of research, theory and clinical practice in British psychology.

The Section represents psychologists who work in all of the disciplines' sub-areas including

  • clinical psychology
  • community psychology
  • counselling psychology
  • critical psychology
  • developmental psychology
  • experimental psychology
  • health psychology
  • history of psychology
  • the psychology of women 
  • social psychology

Our mission is to contribute psychological perspectives to policy initiatives which provide for better quality of life for people of diverse sexualities, their families and friends.

As part of this we are committed to:

  • exploring the psychology of sexualities and sexual identities
  • working with others involved or interested in the field throughout the world, irrespective of their own sexuality
  • developing non-heterosexist and gender-inclusive forms of research, theory and clinical practice in British psychology
  • providing a forum for the systematic study of diverse sexualities which draws together those working in different specialties and subdisciplines of psychology.
  • taking a broadly affirmative approach towards sexualities, including transgressive sexualities, while also strongly condemning those which are coercive

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History of the Psychology of Sexualities Section

Below is a brief history of the founding of the Lesbian and Gay Section of the British Psychological Society, written by Sue Wilkinson, one of the founding members. This essay originally appeared in the Newsletter of the Lesbian and Gay Psychology Section of the British Psychological Section, which was a forerunner to Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review.

On December 18, 1998, a British equivalent to APA Division 44-the Lesbian and Gay Psychology Section-was officially founded within the British Psychological Society (BPS). This historic event is the culmination of nearly a decade of campaigning--creating, for the first time, a formal organisational framework for lesbian and gay psychology in Britain. Three previous proposals had been turned down (in 1991, 1993, and 1994) by the BPS Scientific Affairs Board and/or Council on the grounds that the field was "too narrow" and "too political." Anti-lesbian and anti-gay correspondence was published in the BPS journal, The Psychologist, under the heading, "Are you normal?" Members of the steering group were sent abusive hate mail by BPS members. The membership ballot which finally approved the formation of the new Section was notable for having more "anti" votes than ever before recorded in any parallel BPS ballot--1988 voted in favor, and 1623 voted against the formation of the Section.

The struggle for the Section began in 1990 when four lesbians-two academic psychologists (Celia Kitzinger and myself), a clinical psychologist (Rachel Perkins), and an educational psychologist (Louise Comely)-formed the "Lesbians in Psychology Sisterhood" (LIPS) to act as a steering group. Our first proposal for a "Psychology of Lesbianism" Section was rejected by the Scientific Affairs Board (SAB) and BPS Council in 1991. However, it sent serious ripples through the BPS, which changed its rules to make it harder to form new sections in the future. The founding membership now has to be more than double the previous figure. This first proposal also precipitated a major split within the Psychology of Women Section, of which all four of us were members, two of us on the Committee (c.f. Comely et al., 1992; Sayers, 1992). The Psychology of Women Section (equivalent to APA Division 35) did not originally support the proposal (Ussher, 1991), and it was only with a change of Chair that it subsequently decided to do so (c.f. Beloff, 1993). LIPS tried once again to establish a Psychology of Lesbianism Section in 1993, but we were again turned down by both SAB and Council.

The following year saw a major change of strategy-an alliance between lesbians and gay men-none of whom had previously been forthcoming. Six of us submitted a revised proposal-now for a "Lesbian and Gay Psychology" Section-which, this time, made it through SAB. We sensed that the tide of Society opinion was turning, but we were faced with major disappointment in October, 1994, when the BPS Council rejected this proposal by just one vote. This apparently caused some internal embarrassment, and the proposers of the new Section were invited to meet with senior officers of the Society, including the then President, to discuss the way forward. The tenor of the advice was "not to make waves," "to be patient," and "to expect success in due course." (Outrageous, maybe, but those of us behind the initiative from the outset were actually not averse to having a "rest" at this point!)

In late 1997, four of us (Adrian Coyle, Martin Milton, Celia Kitzinger, and myself) put a revised version of the "Lesbian and Gay Psychology" Section proposal forward once again, and this time it quickly obtained SAB support. It was evident that there had been a sea change. Although we still faced virulent opposition from a significant minority, there was also a groundswell of support. When the Council eventually approved the proposal on Valentine's Day, 1998, their vote in favor was overwhelming. The next step was a membership ballot (a new requirement which had been introduced since our first proposal). This involved a further tranche of hard work. We carried out a personal mailing of the entire Register of Chartered Psychologists, lobbied our known supporters to vote, and publicised the Section via a lead article in The Psychologist (Kitzinger et al., 1998). On December 5, 1998, the ballot result was announced at a Special General Meeting, which the four of us attended. We got our Section!

We are delighted finally to have achieved a BPS Lesbian and Gay Psychology Section as a forum within which to pursue lesbian and gay psychology. The proposal approved by Council explicitly states that the aim of the Section is "to contribute... to removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with gay male and lesbian sexual identities and to contribute psychological perspectives to social policy initiatives which provide for better quality of life for lesbian and gay people, their families and friends" (Kitzinger et al., 1997). Recent events in Britain, such as the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, the parliamentary debates on the gay male Age of Consent, and the "outings" of various members of Parliament, illustrate the extent to which ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry are still rife in this country. The new Section will enable lesbian and gay voices to be heard.

Other aims of the Section include: (a) providing a forum for the systematic study of lesbian and gay psychology which draws together those working in different specialties; (b) developing research and teaching in the area, in both academic and applied contexts; (c) fostering the exchange of ideas, research, and information (via workshops, conferences, newsletter, and, eventually, a journal); and (d) establishing links with others working on lesbian and gay issues, including, of course, APA Division 44 and other lesbian and gay psychology organisations worldwide (such as the one within the Australian Psychological Society).

Although our primary focus is lesbian and gay psychology, we expect to become a forum for related research (and policy initiatives) on a broader range of non-heterosexual identities, including bisexual, transsexual/transgender, and intersexual. Research that uses lesbian and gay theory to problematize heterosexuality (e.g., Wilkinson & Kitzinger, 1993) also falls within our remit. Our name reflects the BPS requirement that we demonstrate an already-established British research base in the key areas covered by the Section. We hope to see research on bisexual and transgender issues flourishing in Britain in the future. The Section will foster a wide variety and diversity of topics and approaches, and will welcome debate about the implications and utility of different perspectives. We are keen to bridge theory and practice, recognising the key role of counselors, therapists, and educational and occupational psychologists in promoting better understanding of lesbian and gay issues.

Over the last three decades, psychology has dramatically developed and expanded its capacity to recognise human diversity. Future development of lesbian and gay psychology will expand the scope and enrich the content of the discipline of psychology as a whole, better equipping it to address and improve the millennium.

Reference

Beloff, H. (1993). Progress on the BPS Psychology of Lesbianism front. Feminism and Psychology, 3(2), 282-283.

Comely, L., Kitzinger, C., Perkins, R., & Wilkinson, S. (1992). Lesbian psychology in Britain: Back into the closet? Feminism and Psychology, 2(2), 265-268.

Kitzinger, C., Coyle, A., Wilkinson, S., & Milton, M. (1997). Proposal to the Council of the British Psychological Society for the formation of a new Section of the Society on "Lesbian and Gay Psychology." Unpublished document.

Kitzinger, C., Coyle, A., Wilkinson, S., & Milton, M. (1998). Toward lesbian and gay psychology. The Psychologist, 11(11).

Sayers, J. (1992). A POWS reply. Feminism and Psychology, 2(2), 269-270.

Ussher, J. (1991). Letter to Chair of BPS ScientificAffairs Board, 21 May. Reprinted in British Psychological Society Psychology of Women Newsletter, 8, 66.

Wilkinson, S., & Kitzinger, C. (Eds.). (1993). Heterosexuality: A "Feminism and Psychology" reader. London. Sage.

Resources

Useful links

Publications

Psychology of Sexualities Review

A collection of papers that make significant and original contributions to the field of the psychology of sexualities.

Download the Psychology of Sexualities Review

Awards & funding

Postgraduate Award

Submissions are now closed

Criteria
  • All entries should be submitted electronically and in English (UK).
  • Entries can be an essay, research (such as a dissertation, including systematic reviews), thesis work and case work (e.g., Clinical/Counselling/Forensic Psychology trainees).
  • Submission must be related to sexualities (for example, LGBTQ issues, gender, sexuality, relationship diversity).
  • Students should clearly state authorship and should be the primary author of submission
  • Student will be required to prove their student status (e.g. a signed letter from supervisor).
Eligibilty
  • Entries can be from full-time and part-time students
  • Entries from UK/International students
  • The candidate should be/have been studying for a recognised post-graduate degree in Psychology.
  • The work of Master's students as well as MPhil/PhD/Professional Doctorate students is eligible for the post-graduate award.
  • Anyone from last year is able to submit
Guidance for nominations

You will need the following information

  1. Nominee Name
  2. Title
  3. Organisation/affiliation
  4. BPS membership number (if applicable)
  5. Contact email address

Final year project or an article based on the final year project following the submission guidelines for Psychology of Sexualities Review (PoSR).

Key achievements of nominee - please enter the essay/ research (such as a dissertation, including systematic reviews), thesis work and case work.

Supporting documentary evidence 

  1. A confirmation from the candidate's postgraduate degree supervisor or Head of Department, confirming that the research reported in the article(s) was carried out by the candidate as research for a postgraduate degree in psychology and had received ethical approval.

Any other relevant supporting documents

Judging process

The Psychology of Sexualities Committee reserves the right to not make an annual award in any of the categories. The decision of the Committee is final, and no correspondence with respect to unsuccessful applications will be engaged in. Unsuccessful applicants may be invited to re-submit to an alternative category and/or in future years. Applications will not be considered in more than 2 consecutive years. In exceptional circumstances an overall winner and one or more 'highly commended' prizes may be awarded in the categories.

The Award winner
  • By accepting an award winner will be agreeing to publish in Psychology of Sexualities Review (full length article).

Practitioner Award

Submissions are now closed

Criteria

All entries should be submitted electronically and in English (UK).

Contributions can include, but are not restricted to:

  • developing equality within services in relation to sexualities
  • enhancing client/patient experience within services/client focused work in relation to sexualities
  • increasing wellbeing of clients in relation to sexualities
  • reducing suffering and stigma in relation to sexualities
  • service level implementation of initiatives for reduce suffering/stigma/increasing wellbeing
Eligibility
  • Contributions specific to psychology and sexualities (for eg, LGBTQ issues, gender, sexuality, relationship diversity).
  • Must be a registered as a practitioner psychologist (e.g., Forensic, Clinical, Counselling, Health, Educational, etc.)
  • Substantial contribution to the field of sexualities.
  • Anyone from last year is able to submit
Guidance for nominations

You will need the following information

  1. Nominee
  2. One statement by nominator
  1. Name
  2. Title
  3. Organisation/affiliation
  4. BPS membership number (if applicable)
  5. Contact email address

Key achievements of nominee (A 1000-word nomination highlighting achievements and grounds for proposing the candidate)

Supporting documentary evidence - One supporting referee statement (from a line manager or a work colleague of the candidate).

Any other relevant supporting documents

Judging process

The Psychology of Sexualities Committee reserves the right to not make an annual award in any of the categories. The decision of the Committee is final, and no correspondence with respect to unsuccessful applications will be engaged in. Unsuccessful applicants may be invited to re-submit to an alternative category and/or in future years. Applications will not be considered in more than 2 consecutive years. In exceptional circumstances an overall winner and one or more 'highly commended' prizes may be awarded in the categories.

The Award winner
  • Award winners are expected to make themselves available to attend the Section Annual Event (usually December) to make a short presentation and receive their award.
  • By accepting an award winner will be agreeing to publish in Psychology of Sexualities Review (short article).

Researcher Award

Submissions are now closed

Criteria

All entries should be submitted electrinically and in English (UK).

We would like to welcome nominations for research which has an impact in various ways, for example further research, practice and policy.

Contribution - To what extent has the candidate's reserch developed knowledge, practice and/or policy.

Science - To what extent has the candidate produced robust, quality research? (For eg, gaining quality samples, replicable results, addressing real world problems etc).

Competence - To what extent has the candidate's work demonstrated excellence in research methodology.

Visibility - To what extent has the candidate disseminated their work to those within the field and outside of this (for eg publishing record, conference or public presentations, media appearance).

Eligibilty
  • Contributions to the field/research in relation to sexualities (including: original research, new evidence, empirical or theoretical contribution, qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods research etc
  • Not eligible for either student award
  • Someone who has made a contribution to the Psychology of Sexualities and/or LGBTQI Psychology (for eg LGBTQ issues, gender, sexuality, relationship diversity).
  • Should clearly state authorship and should be the sole or first author of submission
  • Submission must be related to sexualities and psychology
  • The submission must not have been previously published or be under consideration for publication elsewhere
  • Anyone from last year is able to submit
Guidance for nominations

You will need the following information

  1. Nominee
  2. One statement by nominator
  1. Name
  2. Title
  3. Organisation/affiliation
  4. BPS membership number (if applicable)
  5. Contact email address

Key achievements of nominee (A 1000-word nomination highlighting achievements and grounds for proposing the candidate)

Supporting documentary evidence - One supporting referee statement (including line manager or a work colleague of the candidate).

Any other relevant supporting documents

Judging process

The Psychology of Sexualities Committee reserves the right to not make an annual award in any of the categories. The decision of the Committee is final, and no correspondence with respect to unsuccessful applications will be engaged in. Unsuccessful applicants may be invited to re-submit to an alternative category and/or in future years. Applications will not be considered in more than 2 consecutive years. In exceptional circumstances an overall winner and one or more 'highly commended' prizes may be awarded in the categories.

The Award winner
  • Award winners are expected to make themselves available to attend the Section Annual Event (usually Summer) to make a short presentation and receive their award.
  • By accepting an award winner will be agreeing to publish in Psychology of Sexualities Review (short article).

Undergraduate Award

Submissions are now closed

Criteria

All entries should be submitted electronically and in English (UK).

Entries can be an essay, research (such as a dissertation, including systematic reviews), thesis work and case work (eg Clinical/Counselling/Forensic Psychology trainees).

Submission must be related to sexualities (for example, LGBTQ issues, gender, sexuality, relationship diversity).

Students should clearly state authorship and should be the primary author of subbmission.

Student will be required to prove their student status (eg a signed letter from supervisor).

The submitted work must not have been published elsewhere.

Eligibilty
  • Entries can be from full-time and part-time students
  • Entries from UK/International students
  • The candidate should be/have been studying for a recognised undergraduate degree in Psychology.
  • The work of the undergraduate students is eligible for the undergraduate award.
  • Anyone from last year is able to submit
Guidance for nominations

You will need the following information

  1. Nominee
  2. Referees 1& 2
  1. Name
  2. Title
  3. Organisation/affiliation
  4. BPS membership number (if applicable)
  5. Contact email address

Final year project or an article based on the final year project following the submission guidelines for Psychology of Sexualities Review (PoSR).

Key achievements of nominee: Please enter the essay/research (such as dissertation, including systematic reviews) and case work. 

Supporting documentary evidence
  1. A confirmation from the candidate's undergraduate supervisor or Head of Department confirming that the research reported in the article(s) was carried out by the candidate as research for an undergraduate degree in Psychology and had received ethical approval.

Any other relevant supporting documents

Judging process

The Psychology of Sexualities Committee reserves the right to not make an annual award in any of the categories. The decision of the Committee is final, and no correspondence with respect to unsuccessful applications will be engaged in. Unsuccessful applicants may be invited to re-submit to an alternative category and/or in future years. Applications will not be considered in more than 2 consecutive years. In exceptional circumstances an overall winner and one or more 'highly commended' prizes may be awarded in the categories.

The Award winner
  • Award winners are expected to make themselves available to attend the Section Annual Event (usually December) to make a short presentation and receive their award.
  • By accepting an award winner will be agreeing to publish in Psychology of Sexualities Review (full length article).

Previous Award Winners

Community Engagement Award

2016: Marvina Newton

Conference Prize

2016: Fabio Fasoli

Postgraduate Prize

2016: Jos Twist

2007: Carly Guest

2006: Russel Ayling

2005: Helen Bowes-Catton

2003: Catherine Butler

2002: Clair Clifford

2000: Victoria Clarke

Highly Commended: Elizabeth Peek, Sonja J Ellis

Practitioner Award

2015: Dominic Davies

2014: Sarah Fairbank

Research Award

2012: Elizabeth Peel

Student Award

2015: Matthew Wood

Undergraduate Prize

2016: Jasmin Stevenson

2008: Gemma Gallagher (Essay), Stephanie Louise Byrne (Dissertation)

2007: Adam Jowett

2006: Nick Gian Gabnara

2005: Carmen Buechel (Dissertation), Kate Widdowson (Essay)

Committee

Chair: Adam Jowett

Chair Elect: Vacant

Honorary Treasurer: Aisha Walker

Honorary Secretary: Vacant

Committee Members 

  • Helen Driscoll 
  • Cara Abraham
  • Sebastian Cordoba
  • Rob Agner
  • Annabel Roberts
  • Maris Anderson

Editor of Psychology of Sexualities Review: Liam Wignall

Postgraduate Representative: Vacant

PsyPAG representative: Zyra Evangelista

Join

Membership of the Psychology of Sexualities Section is only open to members of the British Psychological Society.

If you are not already a member, you can join the Section at the same time as applying for membership of the society.

Apply to join the society

Benefits of belonging

Benefits of Psychology of Sexualities Section Membership

  • Access to Community Engagement, Practitioner, Research and Student Awards
  • Access to Community Engagement, Practitioner, Research and Student Awards
  • Access to our online community and other resources 
  • Access to the Psychology of Sexualities Review 
  • Invitations to events and conferences 
  • Network and support from colleagues in the field

Member Announcement Email List

The Psychology of Sexualities Section uses its membership announcement email list to inform its members of activities and initiatives that are relevant to their interests and to make requests for engagement on topical issues. 

By becoming a member of the Section you are automatically added to the announcement list.

To receive these emails you will need to:

  1. become a member of the Psychology of Sexualities Section
  2. opt into receiving email communication and provide a working email address

These preferences can be updated by logging into your member portal.

If you have any queries, please contact Member Network Services.

To assist us in responding to your query please make sure to include your membership number and quote 'Psychology of Sexualities Section announcement email' in the subject line.

Getting involved with the Psychology of Sexualities Section Committee

The Psychology of Sexualities Section relies on a wide range of people getting involved, and the work of the Section is largely achieved through the dedication of unpaid volunteers.

Our volunteers come from a wide range of different backgrounds, whether they be practitioners or academics, or full members or students members, and together form an open and inclusive community.