Safe Schools Program

 

Trigger Warning: brief mention of sexual assault, bullying and harassment. 

I was going to make this post about the stink about the Safe Schools Program, but I want to change direction. (I think the Safe Schools Program did have some good points from what I’ve read on it by the way).

I want to talk about the word that LGBTQ+ critics use all the time, including in this latest row – agenda. “Teachers should teach not push a political “agenda”. This sort of statement really agitates me. Why are we an “agenda”? What is our “agenda”? What is the “agenda” for the whole LGBTQ+ community? For LGBTQ+ students to not be verbally or physically assaulted perhaps. Or not be sick with worry that if you do open up about your questions about your identity, or when you open up about your confirmed identity, you won’t be rejected by friends, family, or, quite frankly, school staff? )These fears are real, by the way. I want to talk about that a bit more later.)

Do you want to know what my agenda, as an asexual person is?

  • For people to be properly informed about what asexuality is
  • For young people to be able to be given correct information about asexuality so that they hopefully won’t spend years wondering what is “wrong” with them
  • For female asexuals (in particular), to not be heckled into dating when they don’t want, or worse, indecently assaulted and/ or raped because of their identity and expression of not wanting a sexual partner
  • For asexuals, both single and in relationships, to not be asked rude or intrusive questions about their genitals, their behaviour in private (e.g. masturbation etc)
  • For asexuals to not be left out of education programs and teachers will be informed enough to support asexual students, as well as (other) members of the LGBTQ+

 

On ABC’s “The Drum”, Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz lamented that all bullying should be condemned and that there is no need for a separate one for LGBTQ+ students and… say, children being bullied because they have red hair. There is a difference with the two. Let me explain.

All bullying should be condemned. And it most often is. BUT, being bullied based on sexuality or gender identity (or perceived of the two), can be harder for victims to speak up about, due to the moral weight often put on LGBTQ+ issues. There is a real fear of being rejected or ignored, not just peers, but, quite frankly, staff as well. I know it sounds silly, and yes, often these fears are unfounded, but the fear is no less real.

Secondly, it’s important that teachers are properly informed about what it means to be LGBTQ, asexual or other minority in a bid to help such students. When I was at school (I graduated in 2008), asexuality was barely talked about, and even though the support I received was great and I’m forever grateful, I was exposed to two key misconceptions when I queried whether I might be asexual: that asexuality doesn’t exist or that asexuality does exist, but is only a phase. Both are not true, at least for the most part (some people may identify as asexual only to identify as something else later on. Some asexual people, though, always and always will lack sexual attraction).

The program says it’s aim is to help teachers support “same – sex attracted and gender diverse students”. I hope this includes students who may think they are romantically attracted to the same – sex, not necessarily sexually attracted. I hope it’ll also extend to teachers being able to help students who are questioning their sexuality/ gender identity beyond Years 7 and 8. This is one of my main criticism of the Safe Schools Program. What about students in 9, 10, 11 and 12? Sure, most students know who they are in terms of sexuality/ gender identity from an early age (about 15), but not all. My struggles with my identity didn’t happen until I was 16.

Contrary to what the opponents have said I have read NOTHING about chest – binding, penis tucking or age inappropriate sexual content. If anyone wants to prove me wrong providing a DIRECT QUOTE from the CURRICULUM ITSELF, I’d love to hear it, because maybe I missed something.

So, that’s what I think about the Safe Schools Program. It may not be perfect, maybe it could be modified, but I do think overall it is needed.

 

 

 

 

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Discrimination vs. Bullying

This is the last time (hopefully) I’m going post about the Adam Goodes booing controversy. A part of the debate has been about whether it was discrimination and how it was handled by the AFL and the media. On whether the booing was based on racism is only something that Goodes himself would know. Whatever Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Rita Panahi or even Mia Freedman or Jonathan Green, it wouldn’t affect anything. I’m going to share a personal story that is not based on race, but I think relevant. When I was in high school; Year 10 and 12, I had three different people ask whethe r I was gay. I’ll never forget what I felt after each time. I felt like I was ‘kicked in the guts’. Actually, sometimes I wonder whether that would’ve been less painful. It may sound dramatic, but that’s how I felt. Was it homophobia? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. But it hurt. Really hurt. One of the controversies has been over the then 13 – year – old girl who shouted a racial insult at Goodes and how she was treated. Again, I can see the dilemma. One of the people that made the comment about my sexuality was younger than me, probably only one of two years older than what the girl was who called out the racial slur at Goodes. I was faced with the dilemma. Yes, this girl was younger than me. That didn’t change the fact that it made me feel like total crap all over again.

Not or everyone may have felt the same way. I’ve heard on TV interview with fashion designer Alex Perry and a YouTube clip with Joan Jett; both who have had speculations and rumours about their sexuality, both seemingly unfazed. That doesn’t take away the fact that it affected me quite a bit.

What i explained here sounds minuscule compared to many other people, I get that. Also, I’m not pretending that I’m speaking on Goodes’ behalf. I can’t. I just wanted to bring my perspective and my experiences to the debate.

Aphobia

Queer As Cat – “Aphobia Exists”

TRIGGER WARNING: This post mentions sexual and other violence as well as discrimination and bullying. Proceed with caution if this is triggering for you. 

I first saw this image on Facebook today and it got me thinking about Aphobia and how it could be defined.  When I saw this image and read the text within it, frankly, I think most of the content was bordering on politically correct. I think we should be aware of and steer away from pettiness and unnecessary victim mentality and the demonising of others. So, what is Aphobia and how should it be defined?

Sexual and gender minorities, including asexuals, do face persecution and discrimination worldwide. I have read that asexual people can find themselves more vulnerable to being sexually assaulted in the foeprm of ‘corrective’ rape. Sexual orientation (or perceived sexual orientation), is still a major subject of bullying in schools. Teenagers are often kicked out of home when they disclose their sexuality to their families, leaving them more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence.

For asexual people specifically, one of the biggest obstacles that asexual people face (from what I have read), is not being believed. Some have also been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation (usually homophobic – being “accused” of being gay). The last one can and does hurt. I have also heard of asexual people being discriminated against in housing based on their sexual orientation.

In my opinion, the paragraph above lists some examples of what should be listed as Aphobia. I think we should cut people at least a little bit of slack for not understanding what asexuality is and ask sometimes, bizarre questions. If we get asked an inappropriate question, then we should just (gently) say we won’t answer the question. Dare I say it, in reality, most people probably don’t mean to be malicious in those circumstances.

 

If we genuinely want to bring visibility and acceptance to sexual people, we can’t constantly have a victim mentality or make a habit of condemning people unfairly. Not everyone is going to be against us because of who we are. For the moment, like I’ve said before, I think we have to be open to questions since asexuality is not well – known yet (we’re getting there, I think).

Another thing – we need to stop creating factions amongst ourselves. I have seen some pretty heated debates on social media and certain people not made to feel welcome in groups and certain people have been unfairly shut up. This can’t happen. Sure, we will have disagreements, even heated ones, but we need unity. We need to be able to discuss topics with respect and let people find out who they are without ridicule and ostracism. Let’s stand together and aim to educate, not ridicule or demonise others.