Why we must fight homophobia in our schools | #students | #parents

This was written for my Grade 8 persuasive writing project. I chose this topic because it’s something I feel needs to be addressed. Not only do I hear about transphobia in the media, I watch it happen right in front of me at school and online. These statistics were gathered from the Welcoming Schools Project of The Human Rights Campaign Foundation. (New York, 2015)

According to the Project of Human Rights Foundation, a total of 75 per cent of transgender youth feel unsafe while at school. We focus on safety so much at school, but if safety is our No. 1 priority, then why are we not doing anything to make sure our schools feel accepting to transgender teens? Schools need to be taking more action to be certain that every student feels accepted. We can do this by putting up posters (to show the school supports LGBTQ youth), informing students that there is a certain teacher they can go to if they’re concerned about an issue surrounding LGBTQ, or even a simple presentation on what you can do if you see or hear unsafe words being used against LGBTQ students. By doing this, we can lower suicide attempts, educate students and staff on the importance of inclusiveness and kindness, and make the school safer for everyone.

  • “More than half of transgender male teens, 29.9 of transgender per cent females and 41.8 per cent of nonbinary youth reported attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime” (HRC).

While there can be multiple reasons why these statistics are this way, a part of it has to do with not being respected, whether it’s their pronouns or gender identity. This is something that we’re all able to change. Not knowing if someone respects you for who you are could be very damaging and frightening. Lowering these unfortunate numbers would be such an easy fix, that we could all take a part in, but students need the help of adults/staff members to do this.

  • “Twelve and a half per cent of LGBTQ students regularly heard negative remarks about gender expression from their teachers or other school staff.”

Doesn’t that just boil your blood? We should all be able to trust every staff member with being who we are. One of the ways we can work on making our school more acceptable to everyone could include educating every student and every staff member on the importance of kindness and inclusiveness. As much as schools have been working on kindness and antibullying, we’re entirely avoiding teaching kids how harmful being discriminative can be. It’s like we’re skipping a step on how kindness works. If you were teaching someone how to make chocolate chip cookies, but you didn’t tell them to add chocolate, why would you expect the end result to be a chocolate chip cookie? Leaving an element out will not help us in any way, but if we teach kids how to be respectful of everyone no matter who they are then we would be much more successful in the antibullying and kindness region.

  • “Two thirds of transgender and nonbinary teens/youth have been verbally harassed at school, one in four were physically harassed, and one in ten have been physically assaulted.”

These numbers are drastically high considering how much schools advocate for being a safe place for everybody. Teaching everyone the rights and wrongs of words and actions can make the place we come to for six hours almost every day, a much more positive space. When looking at our own HWDSB website, it states “We want all staff and students to feel safe, supported and accepted.” As much as these words are encouraging, I personally see very few actions taking place, even in my own school. Unfortunately, my school lacks a more complete education about kindness, supportive prompts and talking about topics surrounding the LGBTQ community. This makes it difficult for everyone to feel safe and accepted.

Say we did all work together on this problem, what would the benefits be? Schools would become even safer for everyone. Not only would we be making schools safer, we’d also be helping lower suicide attempts, and teaching students and staff the importance of equality and inclusion.

Macy Plexman attends school in Hamilton.

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