Thursday, 5 July 2012

Homophobic Bullying: Doing Nothing isn't Fixing Anything

When we talk about homophobic bullying that hurts our youth so much there’s always a lot of distractions – there’s the “no let’s tackle all bullying” and the “why are you focused on GBLT kids” distraction, there’s the “religious freedom” wail, there’s the “indoctrination hiss” and, inevitably, there’s the earnest and tearful “but what can we do?”

Because, y’know we’re all utterly helpless before this, how can we stop this? It’s so tragic but there’s nothing we can do! This is usually followed by plaintive worries that teachers can do nothing, worries about the effectiveness of laws and disparagement about even offering support to the victims.

99% of GBLT kids in Britain hear homophobic language in schools. 99%. No that’s not an exaggeration or made up figure – and anyone listening would realise that is true.

23% have tried to commit suicide. 56% actively self-harm.

More of the typical “oh how tragic but what can we do?” right?

Well, how about this:

25% of pupils, a third in faith schools, say that teachers NEVER challenged homophobic language.

And that matters – let me quote directly:

In schools where teaching staff never challenge homophobic remarks, the rate of homophobic bullying is far higher than in schools where such language is always challenged at 71 per cent compared to 43 per cent.

See, just not sitting back and letting the straight kids abuse GBLT kids vastly decreases. Hey, teachers, school boards, headteachers, you want to open your mouths occasionally and not let slurs rules the playground?

So “but what can we do?!” The answer is, frankly, “the bare bloody minimum, you lazy, pathetic, whining bastards.” You’ve tried “ignore it and hope it goes away” now, how about, just maybe you decide to do something? Revolutionary I know!

And I disagree with the quote in the article. Schools are not “fail to challenge [homophobic bullying] effectively.” To fail would imply they tried. I don’t fail to finish the marathon when I sit on my arse playing Mass Effect, and a school doesn’t fail to combat homophobic bullying. They wilfully choose not to.