The Impact of Homophobia on Canadian Classrooms
The article entitled Study finds startling new data on homophobia in Canadian classrooms provides a lot of insight to the difficulty that students’ of different sexual orientations face on a day-to-day basis throughout Canadian classrooms. The article presents information to suggest that there are two main issues that are dominating the Canadian classroom with regards to certain students’ differences in sexual orientation. The first issue stems directly from the students and is more challenging to conquer and that is the student bodies assumed perception of another student’s sexual orientation. As educators the article suggests that this issue is the hardest to overcome, simply because it is one thing to educate the student body on the diversity that can exist with regards to one’s sexual orientation, and another thing entirely to change their attitudes. For examples the article outlines that, “provinces and school divisions develop and implement specific anti-homophobia programs in the curriculum and in safe schools policies, and provide teachers with professional development on issues of sexual orientation” (Martin, 2011). This is one idea that is portrayed throughout the article and exists as the dominant theme that the issue of homophobia in schools has existed in the past and continues to exist today regardless of many educators’ best efforts.
Aside from the student level of involvement in the sexual discrimination of students, there is also a more subtle discrimination that was found to exist and stem from the teachers and educators themselves. Although it would be nice to assume that in any given setting, a students sexual orientation would be of absolutely no concern to the educator, the survey of 3700 students (as detailed in the attached article) provided some evidence that suggested that although teachers were not verbally involved in the harassment of the students of different sexual orientations, that their lack of interference has begun a whole other type of discrimination in itself. The article explains the role of the educator throughout this experience as a passive role. The article states that the teachers do not directly become allies to the students that are being discriminated against because they refrain from intervening when they overhear any homophobic or transphobic comments made by other students. The article also states that, in some extreme cases, some students that completed the survey recorded that at times the teacher has even indirectly uttered some offensive comments of their own.
One of the most fundamental messages that the article attempts to portray is a figure that details the increasing population of non-heterosexual students that outwardly identified themselves in this recent survey. The article states that 14% of the students that were surveyed have openly admitted to being not exclusively heterosexual. This figure is very close to one in seven students that were surveyed. More importantly, keeping that 14% figure in mind, almost 70% of the students had admitted to hearing comments like, “that’s so gay” or other slanderous comments in an average day at school. The ending of the article sums up the impact of homophobic statements in the education setting. The article says that in schools that have implemented programs to counter the verbal and physical harassment towards non-heterosexual students has decreased immensely but the impact will live on as constantly embedded into the lives of these students. The fact that these students feel unsafe in an education environment can completely hinder the physical and social development of students throughout their schooling years and the article does a great job at portraying the impact of both teachers and fellow students.
I believe that taking the critical stance of progressive is the only option when it comes to this issue in education. If there is an increasing number of non-heterosexual students, encompassing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer under that umbrella, then there is no option but to reach out to those students and make sure that they not only feel welcome in their school environment but more importantly feel safe in their everyday schooling. The social and emotional development of the students could be hindered greatly by sexual discrimination and could also prevent students from reaching their full potential. Students may feel uncomfortable about being completely open about their sexuality to their peers because they could fear that if they reach out to their fellow students that they will be judged in their everyday studies; this could directly effect the student’s ability to succeed in school and affect their intellectual development as well. In my opinion, educators need to be the ones to take the most progressive role when it comes to the non-heterosexual students in their schools. Even though Canada is a very diverse and free nation there is still many cases of sexual discrimination. It is clearly evident that the non-heterosexual students are the ones being marginalized by the way the school system is currently developed. The article has proven that the discrimination does not only come from the students themselves, but either directly of indirectly, the teachers and fellow educators. This is where I believe the issue subtly begins to flourish. As stated above, the numbers of non-heterosexual students is constantly rising, which can only be viewed as a testament to the welcoming nature of Canada. The only way for these students to be able to develop to their intellectual and emotional potential is through rigorous efforts that need to be made by educators and school systems to promote the idea of sexual equity within schools.
Bringing balance to the issue of sexual discrimination in schools is not a process that will happen overnight, and what schools are doing is not enough to explain the equity that exists between non-heterosexual students and heterosexual students. One major shift that could be done to make the shift to understanding could be to educate students from a younger age so they are exposed to all areas of sexuality, which would enable to students to leap to a further aspect of understanding and they would potentially allow them to not fear the difference that exists in every individual in the world. This is all well and good in theory but in terms of reality I believe that this is a plausible solution to bring balance to this issue. The issue of sexual discrimination has been ongoing for years and I do believe that Canadian schools have made some efforts to better the conditions of the schooling but our work is far from complete.