An interesting report with a good unbiased standpoint.
I do see a problem in this line of thinking though: bullying is based on differences, colour, sex, age, religion, physical ability, etc. All of these are generally physically obvious. An Asian cannot deny his or her racial attributes, so they learn to live with it from an early age.
However, being homosexual is something anyone can hide, and they frequently do. I personally didn’t discover my own sexuality until my early 30′s, so my formative “teen awareness” years were long gone. I could accomodate that change with relative ease. But, for the average gay/lesbian teen, it comes as a double whammy, and I suspect, more often than not, that they just duck under and “play the straight” due to parents, peer pressure, and the obvious threat of bullying. The bottom line is, what you do in bed is your own business, and by rights you can’t do anything anyway until your 16, and by that point, one hopes you well be out of the school system. I think it is important to determine one’s sexuality, but equally, one doesn’t have to shout it from the rooftops. By the time you have come to terms with your minority status(!), the chances are you will know who you can talk to about it. I think in some ways, educating kids at school might assist in youngsters coming out, but may equally leave them wide open as targets when had nothing been said, the thugs would have looked elsewhere for someone more obvious to pick on. Bullying is wrong, we all know, but it has gone on for centuries, and will continue to occur, whether we like it or not. All we can do is minimise the damage caused.
I just think maybe it is better to let sleeping dogs lie in this case; offer support and counselling to those who ask for it, and for the others, they will make up their own minds in due course.
sexuality raises its head at puberty – who you want to do it with. Don’t believe it doesn’t happen until 16 because it does: boys’ cocks will drag them to anyone that will service them – even other boys – but the straight boys hate that weakness.
Sexuality has to be dealt with positively in the period before it is expressed; that means as soon as kids enter secondary education.
What a refreshingly sharp account of the situation!
Thanks for your comments.
RobN – I’d just like to clarify that I didn’t mean kids should be coming out, as I agree that they would be sitting ducks for bullies. I was really getting at adults (who are stable enough to do so) being honest about their orientation so as to provide positive role models, and to put a face to the word gay for the homophobes.
Yesterday I spoke to a class of year 11s about homophobia and was open about my sexuality in the process. I didn’t tell them I was gay until I’d heard all their comments about how they’d ‘smash the skulls’ of any gay person that came near them. It was quite a battle but the class ended with quite a few apologies from some of the worst offenders and I think some of them would think twice about raising their fists (bottles, knives…) to somebody just because they happen to be gay.
Although just a chink in the proverbial wall, I truly believe these steps will save lives.
I dropped out of school because of homophobic bullieing and its made me fight so this can stop happening to other GLBT people. I’m now in college and I’m very open about my sexuality I have people asking all sorts of questions and most of them when they first heard i was gay they hated me but now there starting to accept me for me I think the whole world needs to be more like my college.
LGBT issues are definitely too frequently ignored in school education. However, i bring good news; Gendered Intelligence are touring with a play called “Brief Encounters” in late June and early July this year. They toured London schools and colleges with it last year and are doing so again this year. The play deals with LGBT issues and there is then a discussion with the students afterward. As far as i know it is still available to book and easy enough to find if you google “gendered intelligence”.
Suran: All I can say is you are a far braver person than I, and it takes immense courage to do what you do. You have my deepest admiration. I do suspect however that the usual rabble of testosterone-fuelled heterosexual boys will always calm down in front of an amenable lady. I think a greying almost 50yo man such as myself may evoke a quite different response…
It has to be said though, that myths about homosexuality continue to abound, and my favourite question is just to ask “How many gay people do you know?” expecting the obvious answer of “none” can be shot back with “At least one in twenty is LGBT, so you have to know at least a few” – That usually leaves them stumped, (and cautiously eyeing their mates)
I think the fact is, it is the heterosexual adults that need to demonstrate their acceptance of homosexual adults, and teach that understanding, rather than just the LGBT ones. The gay kids can handle themselves generally, it’s the straight ones that can’t come to terms with them that is the crux of the problem.
Certain attitudes are home-grown, like racism, homophobia is a product of the environment you grow up in. Learning to accept people in spite of their obvious differences has to start at an early age, but I’m sure many parents wouldn’t like that kind of ‘interfering’, they know best, after all.
Great idea. I agree that education is the way forward – just calm, quiet education. I just wish you’d visit schools outside London too very soon (another hate-filled day for me courtesy of two groups of teens). Good luck.
The old adage comes to mind, Education, Education,Education. Teachers were frightened to mention homosexuality because of Clause 28. Thankfully, that law was repealed by the Labour Party so now there is a chance to include homosexuality in school lessons, we have enough gay icons to look to these days.
Oh, you have so hit something so close to my own heart. I run a youth group for lgbt young people and have had to listen to their many stories of homophobic bullying, physical violence not just verbal bullying, and how the teachers turned a blind eye to it!!
I would love to be able to go into both primary and high schools to work with both children/young people and staff on the issues of homophobia. Unfortunately I also need to earn a living and cannot find anyone to fund such a venture, maybe we should get together and start our own organisation to educate the educators and educatees. What do you think??
Shar, flick me an email at email@example.com