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Dr Sue Westwood
BSc (Hons), MSc (Geront), MSc (IntPsych), DipCnsPsych, PGDip (Gender, Sexuality & Human Rights), GDL, PhD (Law), FHEA
I am a Senior Lecturer in Law, the 2-Year LLB Law (Senior Status) Programme Leader, the York Law School (YLS) Athena Swan Coordinator, and a YLS Research Impact Champion.
I joined York Law School as a Lecturer in 2018 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2021. I had been a research fellow/research associate at several universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Surrey, where I was a member of the Centre for Research on Ageing and Gender (CRAG). I was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, USA. I have also taught law at Keele University, Coventry University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
My research relates to equality in later life, in regulatory contexts. I combine my qualifications in both law and gerontology, and a previous career in psychology and social work, to explore ageing, diversity and equality, especially in relation to the provision of health and social care to older people. My approaches are feminist and intersectional, with a particular focus on care ethics, social justice and affective equality.
I am a member of the University of York’s Ageing Network.
My primary research relates to equality in later life, in regulatory contexts. My PhD was on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) ageing, the under-recognition of LGB issues in ageing regulatory contexts, and the under-recognition of ageing issues in LGB regulatory contexts. A particular feature of that research was older LGB people’s concerns about heteronormative and cisnormative health and social care provision, especially in relation to religious care organisations and staff. I have continued to explore these issues in relation to older lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people in my more recent research.
I am committed to research impact and have recently co-written, with Dr Liz Price, University of Hull, a good practice guide for those working with LGBTQ people living with dementia (in press).
My current primary research focus is on the equality and social justice implications of the delivery of health and social care to LGBTQ people in general, and older LGBTQ people in particular, by professionals who disapprove of them and/or their rights on religious grounds.
I am also currently researching the place of gender and ethnicity in legal education, specifically, at the present time, how gender and ethnicity inform differences in undergraduate law students' second- and third- year module option preferences and/or allocations.
I am co-editor, with Professor Nancy Knauer, of Temple University, Philadelphia, US, of the following 40-chapter research handbook which is currently under construction:
Westwood, S. and Knauer, K. (2024) Research Handbook on Law, Society and Ageing. Edward Elgar.
Recent research projects have included the following:
Religious Freedoms and Sexual Orientation Rights in Older Age Care Spaces. (C & JB Morrell Trust Priming Funds 2019/2020, via the University of York)
This scoping study on religion, sexual orientation and gender conducted a literature review which found that healthcare, social care and social work students and professionals who hold negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people are more likely to identify with a religion, and that this is especially the case among highly religious individuals. A survey, interviews and focus groups were conducted with older LGBTQ people. There were wide-ranging concerns about religious care, including worries about encountering prejudice and discrimination; fears about religious conversion attempts; concerns about inferior care which was not LGBTQ- affirmative; and a wish for more than “tolerant” care. The project raised many questions about the equitable delivery of care informed by religious beliefs to LGBTQ people, within regulatory contexts. Further research is needed. A research network has been developed, which is now working on several related research grant applications. York Law School funded a one-day workshop to support this process, held at the University of York in July 2022, attended by faith leaders, interfaith leaders, members of LGBTQ organisations, including LGBTQ religious organisations, care commissions, providers and regulators.
Impact of COVID-19 on Older LGBTQ People
This project was conducted in collaboration with Professor Trish Hafford-Letchfield, University of Strathclyde and Dr Michael Toze. The project explored the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on older LGBTQ people. Lockdown appeared to have magnified LGBTQ older people’s overall experiences. Those who were positive about their living circumstances prior to COVID, reported stoicism, adaptability and determined positivity in response to lockdown. Some even reported an improved quality of life, better personal relationships and increased support among neighbours. However, those who were dissatisfied with their living circumstances prior to lockdown, especially those with precarious social support networks, reported a worsening of their circumstances and increased loneliness and isolation. This was mitigated for some by access to online support networks, organised by community organisations. The project identified the need for healthcare, social care and social work professionals to have greater awareness of, and knowledge and understanding about, LGBTQ health and social support needs and concerns. It also highlighted the need to embed LGBTQ equalities in emergency and disaster management policies, to recognise and fully support the role of LGBTQ advocacy organisations during public health crises, and to ensure their integration with public services at all levels.
Selected Recent Publications
For a full list of publications see York research database
Peer-reviewed journal articles
I am a member of the Socio Legal Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, and the British Society of Gerontology. I was Honorary Secretary of the British Society of Gerontology 2020-2022.
I have collaborated with researchers at several other UK universities, including De Montfort University; University of Bristol; University College London; University of Hertfordshire; University of Lincoln; University of Strathclyde; University of Sheffield; University of Surrey; University of Sussex; and Staffordshire University.
I have also collaborated with a wide range of external organisations, including Age UK, Alzheimer's Society, Brighton and Hove Switchboard, Carers UK, City of York Council, International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK); Leeds Bereavement Centre; LGBT Foundation; Opening Doors London; Public Health England; LGBT SAND (Safe Ageing, No Discrimination); Stonewall; York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and Yorkshire MESMAC.
Internationally, I have collaborated with academic colleagues at Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada; Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, US; and Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia.
In 2022, I was an invited expert at a World Health Organisation (WHO) international consultation event to inform its report Tackling Elder Abuse: Priorities for the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021 – 2030.
In 2021, I was interviewed as expert witness on LGBTQ people and dementia, national consultation by Diversifying Dementia Services & COB-MS School of Health Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway.
I attend, chair and convene a range of academic and public events each year. So far, in 2022, I have engaged in the following activities:
I am/have been an invited reviewer for the following:
A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, I am the 2-Year LLB Law (Senior Status) Programme Leader.
I also teach/have taught on the following modules: