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.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Being “Different”

If I’m perfectly honest, for most of my life, I’ve struggled with being different. It’s not easy. Social stigma, fear of being rejected, not able to do certain things, racking my brain to see how things are going to work out in the future it all comes part of the territory.

When I was at a camp, a now – friend of mine told me to see my difference (specifically vision impairment), as a “gift” rather than a burden. I realised I could extend that; not just thinking of my CP and vision impairment as gifts, but also my asexuality. I’m not talking about religious, holier than thou stuff. But I realise now that my differences, including my asexuality, can be used for good.

Anyone who has ever read or glimpsed at this blog know how vocal I am about LGBT+ issues, not in a way to intimidate others with differing views, but I do try to be educational to the wider community of what it’s like to be a GSM (gender, sexuality minority). To a degree, I can relate to the self – hatred that many LGBT+ people constantly face, even though I’m aware of when my empathy ends. I’ve been open recently about my own struggles with accepting who I am (or at least that part of me). It hasn’t been easy, but now, I’m starting to see that I can use those experiences to educate others and raise awareness somewhat to sexual/ gender minorities in general. For the most part, I do use links (whether they work is another matter), and media stories, but I ‘d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any empathy for LGBT+ in general. The recent ‘Gayby Baby’ documentary controversy has hit me harder than what I thought. And I’m very passionate about support and proper education that includes and supports the LGBT+ students, including asexuals.

I get that there would be asexuals who don’t share my experiences or views. I get it. So don’t think I’m not trying to talk for all asexuals. I’m not. I can’t. All I can say is how I feel and why.  If I wasn’t ‘me’, I may not be able to do that.

Empathy Should Go Both Ways

Fact: Most people take sexual feelings/ identity for granted. And they can’t help it, just as we, members of the asexual community can’t help not being able to experience sexual attraction no matter how hard we try or wish it wasn’t so.

Many of us try to gain empathy from non – aces, sometimes with success, sometimes not. But do we understand their viewpoint? if you grow up, for example in an environment where you’re family (brothers/ sisters, parents, family friends, etc), are all straight, then you grow up yourself, starting from purberty, feeling sexual attraction to the opposite sex, you didn’t have to question it, you just were, by nature, you probably lack a level of genuine understanding of what someone who isn’t cisgender and straight go through.

The asexual community has been trying to gain acceptance and understanding from allosexuals, sometimes for a long time. It can be frustrating, I get it. It can be scary, I definitely get that. But like they can’t expect us to know what it’s like to experience sexual attraction (or lack it, at least now), we can’t expect others to immediately empathise with us about our asexuality. Society takes sexuality for granted, largely because people naturally, through no fault of their own, take their sexuality for granted. I’m not saying that we should expect and accept teasing or abuse of any sort, but we should be open – minded and maybe view it from their viewpoint as well.

Think of it this way to; asexual advocacy and visibility has only been very recent. Most of society, education included, hasn’t grappled with it for very long (if it’s started to at all). Yes, some of the ignorance and at times misinformation that the media, for example spouts can be annoying, and even hurtful, frankly. But I want to believe that most people really do have good intentions. Hope that’s not being too naive.

So, I think we should be open to questions, maybe willing to offer sources of information, (e.g. AVEN and other websites), for us bloggers, to keep writing about our experiences and our thoughts, feelings and discoveries, and hopefully, one day, we’ll get to a point where it won’t be necessary any more and we can all just be happy and accept each other and have a huge cuddle party!

Sexual And a Gender Diverse Education & Activism in Schools – What About Asexual Students?

Just before in a blog, I read about an initiative to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in schools and to create a more inclusive environment for LGBT students. I get (and support) the initiative, however, I also fear that some students may feel left out. What about students struggling with their sexuality? What about asexual students (or students who believe they lack sexual attraction). Are they going to be included?

I don’t in any way water down the negative experiences that many LGBT students face, sometimes on a daily basis. They need support and need to feel safe no question, but I also believe that asexual students should be recognised too. It can be isolating at school when you realise (or at least feel like) you don’t belong anywhere. Maybe teachers, School Counsellors, etc could be made more aware of asexuality as an orientation.

Another group that I would like to have acknowledged (if they aren’t already) is students (even in late teens), who are really conflicted with their sexuality. I believe there needs to be more emphasis on the fact that sometimes sexuality isn’t always so black and white (same with gender).

This isn’t about political correctness or a certain “agenda”, I just strongly believe that all students should be supported at school, and that includes students that lack sexual attraction.