Safe Schools Is… Well… Safe

The review has happened and, the Safe Schools Program is safe, despite fierce opposition from the Right of the Liberal Party. The reviewers from University of Western Australia Emeritus’ Professor Bill Louden, has found that, while the program needs modifications, the Safe Schools as a whole should not be scrapped or de funded.

I get changes were needed. When I looked at various websites to see the what was in it and what everyone was getting worked up about, I didn’t agree with everything that was in it, but overall, I thought it was good.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, teachers, Guidance Counsellors and other staff NEED correct information on ways to support LGBTQ+ students. One of the reasons why I was (and am) a supporter of this is because the program goes beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. I think it’ll be a useful resource for teachers and other staff who’s students don’t identify as cis – gender, something that was barely talked about when I was at school.

Let me back – pedal just a bit and talk about the high school I went to. It was a great school. The staff were great. I had great support throughout all my trials and tribulations. But sex – education, in particular was very black and white. There was no real discussion about questioning sexuality. There was only two mentions of asexuality… both misconceptions. This is NOT damning the school! I want to make that perfectly clear. It just shows that back between 2005 and 2007 for me, it was very black and white, and, while very, very supportive, none of the KNEW about asexuality and some had a very “well, if your not gay (or haven’t worked it out by 15), then you must be straight” mentality. I’m not begrudging that, I want to make that clear again. I just think that with this resource, the teachers and even Guidance Counsellors may not be so out of their depth when trying to assist someone who is questioning their sexuality or doesn’t identify as gay or straight by the time their fifteen.

 

Another thing that wasn’t talked about was the different types of attraction and how romantic attraction doesn’t always go hand – in – hand with sexual orientation. It would’ve explained a lot. If teachers through professional development can learn that sexual orientation and romantic orientation are not always linked and that there are other forms of attraction, then I think it’ll help them help the students, particularly those who are confused with their sexuality.

I’m glad it’s staying, I really am. People need to know that people are different and that not everyone fits a neat box. Students need to know that they will be supported, without question, by teachers and other staff (most would, I’m sure, I’m not trying tu suggest they won’t). A little reassurance and access to information will go a long way for staff who support students and I truly think it’ll give reassurance to a lot of students themselves.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Sexual Orientation vs Gender Identity

I’m baaaack! And I did have a great week.

i was scrolling a blog before and couldn’t help but think that some people don’t understand the difference and the link between gender identity and sexual identity and orientation. In context, the comment I read (I have a habit of scrolling through comments when I read blogs) and when this particular com entire mentioned the term ‘asexual’, I couldn’t work out if this person actually understood what being asexual was or whether the person thought it was something to do with gender. So here goes.

Physical sex is essentially ‘what’s between the legs’ and/ or what one is assigned at birth.

Gender identity is how one identifies, either male (cis), female (cis), transgender, etc. Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t identify as cis gender. These include: male to female (MTF), female to male (FTM), a gender, gender neautral (nutrois), gender queer, gender fluid and bi – gender.

Sexual orientation: pattern of sexual attraction which usually starts at puberty. This is not the same as behaviour (even though most people do act on their attractions). It isn’t the same as romantic orientation, although for most people, itdoes go hand – in – hand with one’s sexual orientation.

For those who are new to the concept of asexuality, it’s a SEXUAL ORIENTATION (or lack of one, if you prefer). It is NOT a gender identity. People who identify as asexual are cis gender (like myself), or can fit under the Trans umbrella. One necessarily anything to do with the other. Sure, if someone who is Trans, they could ‘turn’ asexual after transition, but there area lot that don’t.

Now, your sexual and romantic orientation is going to be affected by how you identify gender wise. For example a straight man is generally a cis male who is sexually (and usually romantically) attracted to cis women. From what I can understand, if a Trans woman is attracted to women, then, she’ll identify as a lesbian like a cis – woman would.

Now, I admit that what I’ve just written is overly simplistic. I just wanted to point out that there is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, and I’ll repeat, asexuality is a sexual orientation (or non orientation). It is not a gender.

10 Things You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns — Everyday Feminism

This is an interesting and, at least I thought, an insightful look into addressing transgender people. Good, and frankly, hard – hitting read.

Charissa's Grace Notes

10 Things You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns — Everyday Feminism.

Constance…immediately pass this on to every stubborn person who is important to you.  It is that good, and it does give the basic and true message communicated by those who refuse to use proper pronouns.

I know in my life?  So unfortunate, but the people that I love, was willing to sacrifice for and even die a bit for, well, they did not feel the same way about me and they engaged in terrible acts of betrayal.

So, weirdly, it set me free.

Now?  Well, thanks to them, and my wonderful horrible very own haters who come as dementors, I have toughened up…and here is the truth:

When you gender-shame me with improper pronouns and hate filled speech, you identify yourself as a hater, and make the whole thing easy for me.  I can save…

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Minorities

I get tired of hearing the sentiment that the “minorities” are getting “special rights and are essentially “taking over the joint” if you like. Look, I don’t agree with militancy which essentially ends up in reverse discriminatino in my view. Yes, we need one set of expectations for all.

However, we have to be real here. People DO face discrimination. People DO get mistreated because they’re “different”(I’ve wrote that in the past Asexuailty and Discrimination. What If…. etc). I feel so passionately about this. People are discriminated against, bullied, harrassed, sometimes physically or emotionally/ verbally abused because of who they are. That includes gender, gender identity, sexuality (or perceived sexuailty), ethnic background, etc. Children are being bullied on these grounds, as well as disability.

Minorities need to feel as safe as anyone else. And, as I have argued in the past, here that identity, including the parts that makes a person a “minority” can’t immediately be eliminated, if at all. I think I’m not the only one to think that if it was that easy, we would’ve clicked our fingers and became a part of the majority a long time ago (I know there were times where I’ve thought that).

 

 

 

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of people saying that they are oppressed when there are people who are a heck of a lot worse off than what they are (at least socially). There are people who are more “privileged” than others. There are people who don’t face the full brunt of discrimination that others do. Pardon me for being stereotypical here, but that includes (in Australia anyway), Anglo – Saxon (largely), able – bodied, cisgender, heterosexual and Christian/ atheist or agnostic (from what i can tell). People who don’t fit those boxes are at risk of discrimination or worse. I just wish people would really get that. Here are a few links tht document discrimination both statistics and stories:

http://http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/bondi-racist-bus-attack-jewish-schools-on-alert-after-eight-males-threaten-to-cut-schoolchildrens-throats-five-teenagers-arrested/story-fni0cx4q-1227015860427

News that close to 30 Muslim women have been attacked in Australia in recent times makes me ashamed and sad. It does not matter what a minority extremist Muslim group is doing overseas, nothing justifies this behaviour against innocent Muslims.

(Excerpt from Letter from Jade McKay, Brunswick West HS Your Say, p. 24, Herald Sun, Wednesday 15 October 2014)

http://http://www.beyondblue.org.au/resources/for-me/lesbian-gay-bi-trans-and-intersex-lgbti-people/factors-affecting-lgbti-people

 

 

Take note, I don’t, I repeat I DON’T condone any bullying, even those who fit the majority. Some abuse faced by journalists and bloggers and others who don’t fit the above categories have faced some pretty harsh treatment which I hate and condemn just as much. We need to be equal about this. Nobody deserves to be mistreated, bullied, etc for who they are period. My argument is that I believe that we can’t completely ignore the fact that there are some people who are at least, more at risk, if you like, of not gaining all that is to offer and people are discriminated against on the basis of certain aspects of their identity. However, it’s also important to point out that there are people willing to speak out against discrimination as well.

I don’t want this to start a pity part for anybody, to be honest. Reverse discriminatio, false accusations, etc are not going to help anybody. We have to be willing to work with others, educate others and respect others like the way we want to be respected. I just get tired of what I consider to be the watering down of what other people realy go through.