Ask anyone and I’m sure they’ll have a story about how bullying has affected them. Whether they were the victim, bystander, or the bully themselves, bullying is part of school culture that teachers can’t seem to eradicate. Bullying is harmful no matter what form it comes in – e.i. physical, verbal, sexual, or cyber. There is one group of students who suffer the outcasting and life threatening bullying that seems to escape the radars of adults and authority, LGBTQ+ youth.
Many times, homophobia and transphobia come hand in hand with bullying against sexual minority groups. It is this phobic and less than tolerant behaviour that is hard to speak about when the topic of LGBTQ+ youth is rarely recognized in society. In the reading “Deepening the Discussion About Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan” it states that, “anywhere between 5-11 percent of people are non-heterosexual or questioning their sexual orientation (PHAC, 2011; EGALE Canada, 2011).” I learned that this sexual minority group is often categorized as too small to address.
After doing some research I came across an article about GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance) in relation to the government. In April of 2015 a bill was proposed that aimed at anti-bullying for LGBTQ+ youth. I learned that currently in Saskatchewan schools, if a school is to create a GSA, a student who desires one must step forward and create the group. Putting the onus on kids and teens, who already feel singled out, ostracized, and bullied, to face the barriers of creating a club that features the hottest issues of diversity is just plain wrong. This bill would mandate that schools provide students with a GSA. This attempt to address bullying of LGBTQ+ youth was garnered as unnecessary.
This reactive way of thinking that the Saskatchewan Government holds onto is similarly displayed in pop-culture. In the article “TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-Bullying Campaigns Miss the Mark” I learned that often times, “homophobia is regarded as a personal problem rather than an institutional one that poisons school environments and leaves children emotionally and physically unsafe.” Although I love the show Glee, which was the example used in this amazing article, it is very true that the battles against homophobic bullying were minimized to appear as if it is a problem on a person to person basis rather than addressing the issues of the entire system.
Glee sheds light on the bullying that happens to the everyday high schoolers. Despite it’s cliche premise and stereotypical cliques the audience is able to look past this and see bullying as a real issue in schools. That’s it. A school issue that can be left in the past after graduation. In the article “TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-Bullying Campaigns Miss the Mark” the issues of this thinking are addressed. If you picture the typical acts of bullying, you often think of students being shoved in lockers, fights after school with a circle of onlookers, and name calling that aims to break down the integrity of the victim. This is more than just bullying, it is a violation of human rights and is indeed considered physical or sexual harassment. Downplaying this harmful behaviour as high school bullying results in nothing good for the rest of society.
If this kind of behaviour is appropriate in school then what is stopping people from interacting this way outside of school and after graduation?
Why does this sexually minoritized group of students continue to be ignored despite the recognition of a problem?