My name is Kiana Chouinard, and I’m a GSA student leader at an Edmonton public high school.
I’m here because every single day I’m surrounded by this issue, and
s a widely ignored one -
especially in schools. Many teachers do nothing, because they don’t know how to respond, orbecause they believe the language isn’t used with homophobic intent. People can’t assume
theproblem will stop on its own. It seems like its only getting worse as time goes on.What makes
phrases like “that’s so gay”
such negative word ? Even if not deliberately
commenting on somebody’s
actual or perceived sexual orientation, it still implies that being gayis bad, something to be ashamed of. In school
s that don’t
actively combat this language
assaulted with daily reminders of how terrible being gay is, how awful it is to be a dyke or calleda faggot. Even when people
use the word to describe objects, it’s still offensive. “Wow, tha
tshirt is so gay, what a dyke
.” Think about if you ever took a sentence like that, but replaced the
homophobic slurs with racist ones. Would you get away with it? More importantly, would you
say it? No, of course not, because that’s
not polite.The boys who sit behind me in class are a never ending fountain of homophobic language.
Every time I hear them call something gay, or call each other fags, I can’t focus
on anything else.
I know I’m not the
only one who notices, or is bothered by it. The fact is that a lot of teachers
don’t do anything to combat
these words, which
sends a powerful message that it’s okay todiscriminate. It’s
okay to discriminate against
. Homophobic language affects notonly queer youth, but straight youth as well. Harassment and bullying of any kind erode the
safety of school communities for everyone. And when students don’t feel safe, they can’t
effectively learn and participate fully in their schools.
Bullying isn’t just a rite of passage,
and it can’t be dismissed.
When the effects of homophobic
bullying aren’t fully realized,
the horrific results can go unnoticed.
I’m here because w
henfriends talk to me about things they see happening, it scares me. Being surrounded by thecasual use of homophobic slurs tell a sexual or gender minority youth that they are not fullywelcomed in their school or family. This language tells them that a huge part of their identity iswrong. We are all ent
itled to more respect than that. It’s not okay to use this kind of language,
even online. Typing out a quick comment and hitting enter seems meaningless, but think aboutthe effects it can have. Students should not have to search for an escape by turning to drugs,alcohol, self harm, or suicide.Posts like "JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!" to the 14 year old fromBuffalo were probably posted without much thought. But when Jamey Rodemeyer committedsuicide last year, the bullies had to face just how big of an impact they had. Carl Joseph Hoover-Walker of Springfield was called gay daily by bullies at school. Even after his mom talked to the