"All people are not heterosexual. Heterosexuality is not superior and is not the norm by which all other sexual orientation and gender identities are measured." --Burnaby, B.C. Schools Draft Policy #5.45

Friday, May 13, 2011

University of Winnipeg Study

Researchers at the University of Winnipeg published the results of a comprehensive study (three years long, nationwide, several thousand kids) of the social environment in schools for sexual minority youth.  

The study's authors say it far better than I can.  What they describe sounds exactly like my own experience in a US high school in the 1980s.  (Nothing's changed in 25 years.) Two things in particular stood out:

1. "One in four [LGBT] students said they could not talk to one person in their lives about LGBTQ issues, period, let alone confide that they are LGBTQ themselves."  (Emphasis mine.)

2. "Apart from the personal attack targeting particular LGBTQ students or students perceived to be LGBTQ, there’s the generalized kind. We found what you might expect—students hear “that’s gay” and “faggot” and “lezbo” every day at school, mostly from other students. It’s the air they breathe, the sea of language they swim in. Most students go along with it—some of the LGBTQ students even use this language sometimes, and not in a fun way. The vast majority of LGBTQ students find it upsetting, as you might expect. It’s not just the one-shot, offhand “that sweater’s gay!” that produces this level of distress. It’s the day-in, day-out saturation of school culture with such language that undermines the spirits of LGBTQ kids. It’s hearing a word that applies to a core aspect of your identity used as a synonym for “stupid” 50 times a day. As educators, sometimes we tell ourselves, “It’s not serious. Kids don’t even mean homosexual. They just mean stupid.” “Just” stupid? How would we like hearing “teacher” or “parent” used as a synonym for “stupid” 50 times a day."  (Emphasis mine again.)

See for yourself, here.  

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