I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine yesterday and we began a conversation about Gay-Straight Alliances, groups that are forming in schools. We both focused on the positive nature of such organizations, seeing that there are so many suicides by gay teenagers and how such groups can be extremely supportive.
This acquaintance and I work in a hospice for people who are HIV-positive. Not all of them are gay but many are and they have faced stigmas and misinformation all of their lives. Which made our conversation all the more intense.
As a supply teacher, I go into all kinds of schools. Although the treatment of homosexuals by staff and students has improved over the years, there is still a lot of work to be done.
I never hear the N-word raised in hostility in schools any more. This is a bonus. Unfortunately, the F-word, Faggot, still gets bandied about, sometimes in anger, sometimes in jest.
About three years ago, I was in a grade 8 classroom and I told the students that the F-word was becoming the new N-word.
After the fact, I realized I had overstepped my boundaries. After all, it’s not my job as a substitute teacher to come into a classroom and start preaching politics.
The black students in the room took offence and I almost had a riot on my hands. They argued that “they were born black but that gay people choose to be gay,” a common misconception that many people still have.
No wonder some ignorant people still think that using the F-word is less harsh than using the N-word. As adults, we need to guide them in their thoughts.
Just this past week, I was in another grade 8 classroom and a male student called another one faggot.
When I confronted him about this, he simply said, “Well, he made me angry.”
I spoke about his right to be angry with someone but not to resort to homophobic language to express himself.
He didn’t seem to get it.
Come on people, do you get it? If so, educate others because homophobic teenagers often become homophobic adults.
Then, this week, there was also the incident in which one grade 8 student started calling himself a slut because he thought this was humorous.
That’s another topic for a blog.