Anti-Homophobia Policy “You know there is a problem in our schools when people treat others as lesser people based on who they love, and there is [little to] nothing in place to tell them they can’t.” –SDSS Student
Our Point of View: Intolerance of LGBTQ+ people is a serious issue and dangerous to those who are being harassed/targeted by the marginalization.We suggest a zero-tolerance approach pertaining to the Code of Conduct. Students who harass others for their gender identity/expression or sexuality should face suspension and mandatory education of LGBTQ+ issues, and, as stated above, attempt to correct the wrong that is committed in some form of apology. We believe, though, that education is absolutely crucial when it comes to battling gender and sexuality discrimination, and that in these cases needs to be strictly enforced.
What We Are Looking For: The Original Burnaby School District Policy can be viewed hereThis policy very closely resembles the one we request for our own school district.We agree with most things within the policy, but there are some alterations andadditions we would like to see. This policy does not address how homophobic slurs/harassment would be dealt with. District Code of Conduct states that those who act unacceptably will be faced with consequences that should: Be thoughtful, consistent and fair Seek to prevent a recurrence of the offense Teach acceptable social behaviour rather than be merely punitive And where appropriate Provide means for restitution and restorative actions Involve the offender in determining a corrective plan of action
Why We Need a Strict Policy as Opposed to Being LumpedUnder the “Anti-bullying” Umbrella: Homophobia is so much more than bullying. Homophobia is an attitude. Society places taboos upon and demoralizes those who are already struggling with who they are. As long as this heterosexist frame of mind is prominent, youth will continue to take their own lives.Education about LGBTQ+ issues and homophobia’s effect on youth ofgender and sexual minorities is mandatory if we want to make lives betterand safer for students who are struggling. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at a higher risk of attempting suicide (28% of LGBTQ+ youth vs. only 4% of heterosexual youth) [McCreary 2008].This number is unacceptably high. Why is this? Youth who are struggling with theirgender and sexuality are not proficiently supported by their peers or families. Manyare even too afraid to try to reach out to others. By reducing LGBTQ+ harassment in schools, we eliminate so much of the pressure that causes the tragic deaths and depression in youth.
Is Homophobia a Problem in Delta Schools? Homophobia is often a less obvious form of bullying. It’s swept under the rug all too often; teachers, administration, and even some of the students can be unaware of what’s happening around them.So how can we be sure homophobia is even an issue? Let’s look at what the students have to say. (Note, most students have wished to remain anonymous so we have not included names)“I have friends that have been physically harassed and threatened with things that wouldnot be appropriate to say to ANYONE in ANY circumstance, based purely on uncertainty totheir sexuality. They’ve come out of the closet, then gone right back in because ofhomophobia. I personally am afraid to come out because of these examples.” – SDSSStudent
“My brother gets called a ‘fag’ and ‘gay’ all the time. People threaten to hurthim, but he is too nice to tell on them. He is frightened to leave our houseand go to school. He is not gay.” –SDSS Student “Throughout the entire school there is an implicit undercurrent of homophobia, of glances thrown, cutting tones used and people excluded and then of course there are the concrete instances too...” –SDSS Student “[I am] Feeling pressure from my peers and friends to change myself because they were not comfortable with my uncertainty towards my gender” –SDSS Student
“[I am afraid of] publicly coming out because of fears of being discriminated against and also because of fears of losing friends.” – SDSS Student“I am constantly hearing the words ‘fag’ or ‘gay’ thrown around like funny jokes inthe hallways or even by my friends. It hurts me that they don’t understand howhurtful these words are. I have many friends who have been victims of verbalharassment and I get really upset seeing how upset it makes them. People needto understand just how hurtful these words are and the impact that ‘joking around’with them makes.” –SDSS Student “...people don’t realize that the word ‘gay’ shouldn’t be used in a negative manner. The number of times I have been called gay as an insult, and I have heard others being called/calling others gay can’t be counted.” – SDSS Student
“Intolerance of the LGBTQ+ community is getting out of hand in our school district. Slursin the hallways are not only common, but expected. So many students, myfriends, have felt unsafe in their own school. They have hidden or diminished who theyare, because in their “safe learning environment”, they do not feel safe. I have beenharassed for my androgyny, gender expression and sexuality, as have a great portionof my gender and sexual minority and allied friends. We are purposefully andaccidentally marginalized by heterosexism and homophobia in our peers and teachers.So many of us feel depressed and alone. So many of us can’t even come out to othersto express our fears and unite against them. So many of us are afraid. It is not ourresponsibility to make our environment safe; it is yours.” –SDSS Student “Being gay does not change who I am, and I’m not a freak, so do not freak out if I talk to you, because I’m just trying to be nice.” – SDSS Student
And it’s not only Student’s Who Are Noticing “As a parent of a queer student, I believe it’s crucial and imperative for this policy to be enforced. The kids who are bullied for the colour of their skin, or colour of their hair, or the fact that they have braces still have their parents to accept them and to love them unconditionally when they get home. The difference with queer kids and the reason so many of them are taking their lives is that most of them are too afraid to even come out to their parents, so they don’t have their family to undo the damage their peers have done throughout the day. This policy would ensure that they had a safer place to be who they are and to simply be. I have a two year old and a four year old as well as a queer teen, and I have seriously considered homeschooling as an alternative. My four year old likes the colour pink and playing with “girl” toys. His gender expression is quite ambiguous compared to most kids his age, so to me it’s not a question of if but when he gets bullied. I want the school environment to be safer for my younger children than it has been for my older one. We can’t afford to lose any more young lives.” -Michelle Van Beek, Parent
"One form of homophobia is bullying but homophobia is far more than bullying. It is expressed in many ways." “Students came to me to start the Alliance Club. They make me aware of what is going on. And today, they make us all aware of the importance of an anti-homophobia policy." -Lucie Ferrari, SDSS Alliance Club Sponsor Teacher and Modern Languages and French Immersion Department HeadOur Lives Could be In Your Hands, so What AreYou Going To Do About It?