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Families Valued: Preventing Homophobia and Gender Stereotypes in our Schools


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Homophobia Can Be Devastating for Queer Youth: So What Can Schools Do About It? Presented by Steve Mulligan, Vancouver School Board, at the 5th Annual Gay Men's Health Summit held in Vancouver, BC on November 9th and 10th, 2009.

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Families Valued: Preventing Homophobia and Gender Stereotypes in our Schools

  1. 1. Families Valued: Preventing Homophobia and Gender Stereotypes in Our Schools Steve Mulligan VSB Anti-homophobia and Diversity Consultant
  2. 2. TRUE OR FALSE? “Homophobic language is the most commonly heard form of verbal bullying in secondary schools, and is the least responded to by adults and youth.” <ul><li>Warwick, I., Aggleton, P., and Douglas, N. (2001). Playing it safe: Addressing the emotional and physical health of lesbian and gay pupils in the UK. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 129-140. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Teachers Have the Power to Build Understanding! <ul><li>“ Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. ” Charlotte Bronte </li></ul>
  4. 5. Recent Research <ul><li>Highlights of the 2008 SR Survey for VSB secondary schools: </li></ul><ul><li>11% of students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or unsure which is unchanged. </li></ul><ul><li>More acceptance of diversity as a composite (race, LGBT, ability, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Adult responsiveness increased for all grades </li></ul><ul><li>Perceived victimization and perpetration based on sexual orientation is up, but still low. </li></ul><ul><li>Gay males highest by far at initiating social responsibility initiatives. </li></ul><ul><li>33.6% of students reported being called gay, fag, lesbian, or similar, and of these 85% identify as straight. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Importance of Adult Support for LGB Youth at School <ul><li>68% of lesbian or gay youth who reported a lack of adult support at school never or almost never felt safe at school. </li></ul><ul><li>In contrast, 76% of lesbian/gay youth who perceived that adults at school were supportive reported feeling safe most or all of the time at school. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Policy and Documentation <ul><li>VSB policy and experience very positive. </li></ul><ul><li>VSB, BCTF, BCSTA, Vancouver Principals and VPs Associations, DPAC all support this work. </li></ul><ul><li>BC Ministry of Education: </li></ul><ul><li>- “Diversity in BC Schools: A Framework” </li></ul><ul><li>- “Safe Caring and Orderly Schools” </li></ul><ul><li>- “Making Space”- Social Justice teacher guide </li></ul><ul><li>- Codes of Conduct </li></ul><ul><li>- Social Responsibility Performance Standards </li></ul><ul><li>- Curriculum opportunities mainly in SS, HCE, Law, and Social Justice 12 </li></ul>
  7. 8. Vancouver School Board LGBT Policy Commits to: <ul><li>A safe and positive learning environment for LGBTQ students & employees </li></ul><ul><li>Staff training, Pro-D & Counselling support </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection in curriculum and resources </li></ul><ul><li>Raise awareness and understanding of LGBT lives </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate to students, staff and community that some kids live in LGBT families & are positively recognized and included as such </li></ul><ul><li>Parent and LGBT community involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Ask all schools to appoint a “Safe Contact” </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage and support GSA’s in high schools </li></ul>
  8. 9. Teacher Consultant Role: <ul><li>Chair the Pride Advisory Committee. </li></ul><ul><li>Support GSA clubs and GSA network. </li></ul><ul><li>Support Elementary Safe Contacts, counsellors, principals and other staff. </li></ul><ul><li>Development/procurement of materials for students and families in multiple languages. </li></ul><ul><li>Review, purchase LGBT resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops for principals, counsellors, teachers, and other school staff. </li></ul><ul><li>Work with and promote community organizations like Gab Youth Services “Pridespeaks” and Out In Schools, including provincial PSA competition. </li></ul>
  9. 11. Want to know more? <ul><li>VSB: Steve Mulligan, (604)713-5180 </li></ul><ul><li>BCTF: James Chamberlain, (604)871-1842 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Gay & Lesbian Educators of BC: and [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>“ Challenging Homophobia Binder” </li></ul><ul><li>Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network </li></ul><ul><li> – US National Education Org </li></ul>