Home' LOTL : August 2004 Contents Or you're in the playground, and you see two kids arguing
in plain view of the teacher. One calls the other 'dyke' or
'poof'. The teacher doesn't intervene. For some reason, it's
'okay' to use queer terms as derogatory in most schools. We've
all been there. We've all seen it happen. Half the time it isn't
even about homosexuality specifically, it's just that gayness is
easy for kids to pick on, and even easier for teachers to ignore.
In fact, I've even been in classes where it's the teacher who
called someone a 'poof' (for getting an answer wrong).
Jacqueline Mikulsky, (BSci, MA. Med) says that the vast
majority of participants in the University of Sydney's Schools and
Sexuality Sur vey 2004 indicated that they heard homophobic
slang on school premises "almost every day" or "several times
per week." And the result of all this? The study so far suggests
that same-sex attracted students whose teachers are positive
about homosexuality are more likely to feel that they belong at
school and, accordingly, less likely to skip school. Students who
indicated that they skipped school often were also likely to
report that they did not 'get along' well with their teachers. Of
the students who said that teachers or staff were present when
they heard homophobic slang at school, almost half said that
the teacher either "never" or "hardly ever" inter vened.
Although only a very small minority number of students
reported seeing physical harassment/bullying at school that
they believed was related to the sexual orientation of the victim,
the problem is that these students were less likely to report
feeling safe at school than the remainder of the sample.
Mikulsky's current study builds on these findings. Her
theory -- that same-sex attracted students who attend a school
where they perceive the climate towards homo/bisexuality to
be negative are likely to have decreased school outcomes -- will
be tested through a sur vey of same-sex attracted high school
Potential participants (you and any same-sex attracted teens
you know!) are invited to take an online sur vey. It takes about
30 minutes to complete, and is anonymous and confidential.
This study is unique in that teens are being recruited from
a number of mainstream sources, making for much more
representative results. To date, no large-scale, national study of
same-sex attracted teens has investigated perceptions of the
school environment and connected it to school outcomes.
The aim is to create a nationwide picture of these issues
with the intent to build a model that can be used by state and
federal level education policy makers. Perhaps if enough of us
get our opinions heard and feelings recorded, we'll be able to
ensure that teachers (and our fellow students) will actually have
to make an effort to stomp out homophobia whenever it
appears, rather than simply allowing it to fester.
There may come a day when a teacher will hear a group of
kids say "that's so gay" about a boring textbook, and will
actually pull them up on this with something like, "Be careful
about the words you use, and think about who you may be
discriminating against. Our school does not tolerate
homophobia." How sweet it would be to see any repeat
offenders in detention!
The sur vey will be open for six months, after which time a
small group of voluntary participants from the sur vey will be
inter viewed to form the basis for case studies. The online sur vey
is available at: http://alex.edfac.usyd.edu.au/ssay/intropage.htm
For more information, or for clarification of any of the reported
results, please contact Jacqueline Mikulsky at (02) 9351 5378
or email ssay.sur firstname.lastname@example.org
YOUR TEACHER READS A QUESTION FROM A
TEXTBOOK WHICH IS DIFFICULT, DUMB OR
HAS A REALLY OBVIOUS ANSWER. KIDS
MUTTER "THAT'S SO GAY!" SOUND FAMILIAR?
READ ON URGES TIFFANY JONES.
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