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is not Golden
By Susan Holmes
old adage can certainly be applied to some situations, as we all
know, but not for GLBTTY [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered,
Two Spirited Youth (aboriginal term)]. Silence only reinforces
homophobia (fear of those individuals who are homosexuals). It
is extremely important; therefore, to examine all the ways in
which homophobia exerts an influence on our communities and society
as a whole. A good way to start is to reflect on how homophobia
expresses itself and for this purpose it would be useful to examine
the issues in our school community.
students often feel invisible in their schools. Their invisibility
is usually reinforced by heterosexism. Heterosexism is a privilege.
Perhaps this term is best understood as the ability to freely
date the person you wish without being teased or harassed. It
is the ability to be affectionate in public without threat or
punishment. It is the freedom from not having to question your
normalcy, sexually and cultural. It is the sense of security provided
in being able to be employed in a profession without fear of being
fired. It is seeing yourself and your sexual identity reinforced
in the media through advertising and information. It is working
without being identified by your sexuality ( i.e. you could be
a farmer, teacher, etc. without being labeled as a heterosexual
farmer, or heterosexual teacher… ) It is receiving social
acceptance by neighbours, colleagues, and new friends. It is the
ability to freely express pain when a relationship ends and have
other people recognize the validity of that pain.
What do statistics reveal?
Gay and Lesbian youth are two to three times more likely to attempt
suicide than heterosexual young people. 30% of youth-completed
suicides are committed by Lesbian and Gay youth annually and suicide
is their leading cause of death. Canada has one of the highest
youth suicide rates in the world…the cognitive, emotional
and social isolation, and the ongoing external and internal homophobia
and resulting lack of support may lead homosexual oriented adolescents
to perceive suicide as their only way out.
Drop-Out: 28% of Gay and Lesbian high school students in a national
study were seen to have dropped out of school because of harassment
resulting from the sexual orientation (Remafedi, G., Pediatrics,
326- 330) In another study by the same researchers it was determined
that 26% of GBLT youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts
over their sexual identities.
Attitudes: 97% of students in public high schools report regularly
hearing homophobic remarks from their peers. 45% of Gay males
and 20% of Lesbians report having experienced verbal harassment
and or physical violence. (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)
In a study of depression and GLBT youth researchers found depression
strikes homosexual youth four to five times more often than their
non-gay peers. (Hammelman, TL, 1990) Studies also show increased
drug and alcohol use.
Edward Island studies indicate that many GLBTTY leave the province
in search of a community which often means moving to larger centers
such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
adds up to a pretty grim picture for GLBT youth. Drawing attention
to these hardships makes sense. In order to root out the problems
of bigotry and oppression, a community requires education in order
to become empowered to confront the damaging effects of homophobia.
Knowledge, therefore, becomes the first step in changing attitudes
and beliefs. Here in Prince Edward Island the Human Rights code
was amended to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in 1998.
you can do?
the Myths and get the facts about BGLTT people. For an example:
There is a widely held perception or myth that: The Majority of
Pedophiles are Gay. In reality sexual abuse of children occurs
primarily within the family. Over 95 % of abuse that is reported
is perpetrated by a male relative. A child is over 100 times more
likely to be sexually molested by a heterosexual relative than
by a homosexual. Most sexual abuse of children, which occurs outside
the family structure, is committed by pedophiles who DO NOT distinguish
between males or females. Girls are twice as likely to be victims.
information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or The Stonewall Forum at
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