What s a Just Teacher to Do? Homophobia in the Hallways of Canadian Schools

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1 What s a Just Teacher to Do? Homophobia in the Hallways of Canadian Schools Just Teachers Conference MSIP/MTS/MERN/COSL May 2012 Catherine Taylor, Ph.D., Professor & Director of Academic Programs, Faculty of Education The University of Winnipeg

2 We re just teachers. Apologetic Fatalistic Self-protective 2

3 3

4 We re just teachers what can we do about homophobia? Homophobia? Just gay people care about that. They re just kidding when they say that s gay. Don t worry about it. That s just for sex ed class. That s just the way it is. 4

5 The Heterosexual Matrix Sex Gender Expression Sexual Orientation Male Masculine Feminine Females Female Feminine Masculine Males The Heterosexual Matrix 5

6 LGBTQ LGB = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual T = Transgender + Transsexual and Intersex + Two Spirit Q = Queer + Questioning Sexual and Gender Diversity 6

7 It gets better Sexual and Gender Diversity 7

8 It gets better It Gets Better 8

9 Altona Ally Cards Context 9

10 Altona Ally Cards Context 10

11 First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian High Schools How do diversely situated Canadian students experience the climate of their high schools concerning sexual orientation and gender expression? What kinds of interventions are associated with better or worse climates? Research Questions

12 Combined Open-Access & In-School Data LGB Trans Heterosexual 26% 71% 3% Sample : n = 3607 participants

13 Six Lessons 1 Schools are unsafe and disrespectful for LGBTQ students 2 Youth are being harassed and getting hurt 3 Diversity = at risk 4 Equal rights (except for you) 5 Homophobia is wide but not always deep 6 Most students are distressed by it Six Lessons Learned

14 Hostile Discourse last 12 months Daily Weekly Monthly Never 70.4% 21.5% 6.2% Expression: "That's so gay" 47.5% 31.9% 15.3% Remarks: "faggot", "queer", "lezbo", "dyke" Lesson One: Schools Are Disrespectful and Unsafe

15 Unsafe Spaces last 12 months 79.1% 69.7% Transgender LGBQ Heterosexual 46.5% At least one space unsafe for LGBTQ students Lesson One: Schools Are Disrespectful and Unsafe

16 Experiences of Harassment last 12 months 60% of Trans, 46% LGB, and 8% H students had rumours or lies spread about their sexual orientation at school. 63% of Trans, 49% of LGB, and 8% H students were verbally harassed about their sexual orientation. 74% of Trans, 55% LGB, and 25% H students were verbally harassed about their gender expression. 37% of Trans students, 21% LGB students, 10% H students were physically harassed/assaulted due to gender expression. Trans > LGB > Heterosexual Lesson Two: Youth are being hurt

17 Impacts Feel unsafe at school 78.0% 62.8% 15.2% I can t be myself at school Transgender 45.0% LGBQ 43.0% 16.0% Heterosexual Sometimes I feel very depressed about school % 55.7% 28.2% Lesson Two: Youth Are Being Hurt

18 Lesson Three: Diversity = Danger The more marginalized you are, the less safe and respected you are: Trans > LGB > Heterosexual Sexual Minority Girls > Sexual Minority Boys Aboriginal LGBTQ > Caucasian LGBTQ LGBTQ Youth of colour > LGBTQ Caucasian Youth Youth with LGBTQ Parents > Youth with Heterosexual Parents Lesson Three: Diversity = Danger

19 Human Rights & Hallway Pedagogy A: Everyone is equal in this country. + B: LGBTQ people are fags, homos, dykes. Gay means stupid. = C: Everyone but you, fag. Lesson Four: Equal Rights (Except for You)

20 Lesson Five: Homophobia is Widespread But Not Always Deeply Rooted Not that hard to shift school culture. Modest changes significant improvements. Lesson Five: The Problem Is Wide But Not Deep

21 Lesson Five: The Problem Is Wide But Not Deep Institutional Responses Harassment Reporting Procedure Policy No Policy 58.4% 76.3% 59.0% 58.1% 71.4% 67.6% 49.1% 25.3% 33.6% 31.2% School Community Supportive School Climate Improving Report Incidents to Teachers/Staff Teachers/Staff Intervened Effectively "I feel like a real part of my school"

22 Institutional Responses GSAs My school community is supportive 65.2% 75.0% I can be Out with some of my peers 67.5% My school climate is improving 26.4% 53.1% 81.5% No GSA GSA Lesson Five: The Problem Is Wide But Not Deep

23 Lesson Six: Heterosexual Students Aren t Enjoying This Either. 58% Lesson Six: Most students are distressed by this

24 58% Why are all these heterosexual students upset by homophobic comments? Targets Family or friend Empathy Shame Depressing Implications Damage Solidarity Time for adults to do our part Lesson Six: Most students are distressed by this

25 Why now? Because Children and youth are suffering now LGBTQ youth are coming out earlier Youth culture has become hypersexualized and hyper-gendered Human rights shouldn t depend on other people s approval The unconditional love they show should be reciprocated. 6. And because, at last, we can. Six Reasons Why We Need to Make It Better Now 25

26 The least we can do... Intervene every single time. Reframe the event: Make it clear that homophobia is a human rights issue. Where to start 26

27 LGBTQ-inclusive education is... not sex ed, except in Sex Ed class It is... Every class where human rights and relationships are discussed Every class where the teacher uses pronouns or examples Inclusive Education 27

28 ... not just for high school because K-8 Children have LGBTQ parents Many trans children know at age 5 or 6 Some children know they re gay or lesbian by age 10 Childhood homophobia undermines adolescent wellbeing Homophobia hurts everyone involved Inclusive Education 28

29 Jessie Klein, The Bully Society... Keeping discussions about gender and sexuality out of schools reinforces isolation and cements our schools bully society.... Students need discussions with adults about sexuality. They need help creating friendships based on trust rather than social climbing and clawing. Inclusive Education 29

30 Un-Inclusive schools as conversion therapy: Silence in classrooms + Homophobia in hallways = Scared straight? Un-Inclusive Schools as Conversion Therapy

31 They [the policies] were all geared toward the promotion of the homosexual or gay lifestyle. My question is, would you also want to present the resources for those people who seek counselling to remove themselves from that lifestyle? True education would give both, and let the student decide. (Winnipeg Free Press, 9 Nov 2011) Un-Inclusive Schools as Conversion Therapy

32 Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm. American Psychological Association Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation Homophobic Schools as Conversion Therapy 2009

33 APA findings re: conversion therapy Success = heterosexual orientation identity NOT heterosexual orientation Un-Inclusive Schools as Conversion Therapy

34 Just Teachers in Action in Manitoba - Teachers in River East-Transcona, defying the quasi-official HAM rule - Manitoba Teachers Society, partner on the Every Teacher project - MTS banner-bearers, Winnipeg Gay Pride - Ally card posters, Altona - Gimli High teacher Rob Jantz, In the Locker - Many Winnipeg teachers, LGBT and H What s a Just Teacher to Do? 34

35 Just Teachers in Action What s a Just Teacher to Do? 35

36 Angiplipgaiyot (Making the Snow House Bigger)

37 Final report: Resources: MyGSA.ca Catherine Taylor, Ph.D., Professor & Director of Academic Programs, Faculty of Education University of Winnipeg

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