Some People Aren’t Straight, Get Over It!

Earlier this week, Catholic school. St. Francis Xavier College, in Berwick, Melbourne, made headlines when it was alleged that the Principal set up an assembly and demanded the children in Years Eight and Nine tear out pages of a health text book that dealt with losing your virginity, how to negotiate sex, same – sex relationships and sexual orientation. The Principal, Vincent Feeney, originally argued that the discussion about sexual relationships and sexual orientation should be discussed in Religion classes, not Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. He later admitted that the move was heavy – handed.

Earlier in the year, everyone (in Australia at least), would’ve heard about the controversy about Safe Schools, a program that talked about tackling homophobia and transphobia in schools. I do think they went too far, especially the program aimed at pre – school aged children. There have also been criticisms and concerns from experts about the accuracy of the information being presented; the number of people who are LGBT+ and the video case studies. I get all that.

 

Here’s the thing. Sex ed has been around years. We had it when I went to school from Years Seven to Ten. Anyone remember the “putting a condom on banana”? Yeah, I do. Relationships were talked about, especially in Year 10 (I remember that vividly), and… no one complained. Not to my knowledge anyway.

So what’s everyone up in arms about now?

Short answer: LGBTQ+ people are starting to be discussed. The gay/ straight dichotomy is finally busted. Now bisexuals, asexuals, etc are starting to be discussed. Frankly, a part of me wishes I was in school now! I thin it’s great; providing the information is accurate and age appropriate, that the LGBT+ community in all it’s forms is starting to become visible. My hope that one day, we’d hear about students being aware of asexuality is coming true.

Here’s the thing. Like I’ve said, I think some of the criticisms aimed at programs like Safe Schools are called for. There were inaccuracies and from what I’ve read, it lacked support for students who experience same – sex relationships/ encounters early in life, but end up identifying as straight. That aside, I can’t help but think that the reason why people are so up in arms is because heteronormativity is no longer pretended to be everyone’s orientation. It’s bringing the LGBTQ+ out of the closet, so to speak and people don’t like it. Yet, for a small amount of people, it’s reality. Why can’t it be discussed in schools? Why can’t LGBTQ+ students feel included? It’s reality. Only for a small amount of people, but still, it’s there.

 

Some people aren’t straight, get over it!

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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.

Invisible Orientation: An Introduction into Asexuality Review: Part 2 Ctd

Back again. Continuing reviews on Part 2 (I know, it’s long).

The part I’m talking about is titled “Society, Discrimination and Queer Communities”. In it, Julie Sondra Decker discusses the asexuals’ link to the LGBT communities and discrimination that asexual people themselves face. Homophobia, in particular is very well known and exposed in the media. Studies from respected health organisations, such as “Youth Beyond Blue” in Australia, point out that LGBT youth are statistically more vulnerable to both physical and verbal abuse due to their orienatation, perceived orientation or gender identity. I don’t deny that. However, as Decker pointed out, asexuals have faced their own battles.

One of the biggest issues facing asexuals is invisibility and not being taken seriously. I think this is a valid point. I’ve wrote before here that asexuality should be discussed in schools when talking about sexuality in PDHPE classes. Students NEED to know that it’s OK not to be interested in sex!

Another issue that was specifically mentioned in the book, and a reason why asexuals may want to link with LGBT communities, is the fact that there is a lack of asexual – specific support groups, informatoin sessions, or meetups. I’ve only read about a couple on Facebook myself, mainly in the US. Maybe this is due to a lack of awareness, but also, like I was saying before, a lack of known persecution against asexual people. The main reason wny, for example, gay clubs were formed from the 1970’s onwards, was so gay people could mingle and hang out without a fear of being attacked, or, before the 1970’s in many cases, even persecuted by law enforcement (it may be obvious, but I”m talking about people in the West. I do acknowledge that in many cases, legal prosecution of gay people is still a serious issue).

A number of asexual people identify themselves as allies to the LGBT community. Some LGBT communities are open to welcoming asexual – identified people, however, some are hesitant to welcoming them within their circles because they deem the asexual community as having “heterosexual privilege” , especially those who identify who identify as aromantic or heteroromantic. To some degree, I can see how it can be perceived. Heteroromantic and aromantic people, naturally, are not being criticised or being persecuted for being same – sex attracted, like LGB people. However, like Decker argued, it’s not the same as being straight. And even LGBT asexuals (those who are homoromantic, bi – romantic, transgender, poly/ panromantic etc), can face dismissiveness from the LGBT communities. As a blogger was quoted as saying:

I find it painfully ironic that in  queer spaces I am still told that my sexual orientation  is just a disorder, eihter physical or psychological, that I ‘just haven’t met the right person yet’, taht I”m going through a phase. that I can be cured. I hardly consider a space where people are feel comfortable saying those things to another person a ‘safe space’ for anyone (and yes, they so those things to a polypan ace […] and those same things are said to trans aces and homoromantic aces and biromantic aces too}.

I just want to point something out, in regard to the last quote. Many people, myself included, have a habit of lumping LGBT people together as if they’re all one in the same. However, it’s not always harmonious in these communities either. I’ve lost count, for example, of how many blog posts I’ve read about the alienation that bisexual people can face from the gay community. They are either not believed, or they are negatively stereotyped, (e.g. they can’t be in a monogamous relationship and remain faithful). Transgender people, too, face alienation from the gay community. Earlier this year, Australian model/ DJ, Ruby Rose made a video on YouTube in which she strongly criticised  transphobia within the gay community. So negative attitudes are not exclusive to asexual people.

There is a misconception, too, that asexual people share in “straight privilege. As i’ve argued before, even ‘passing’ as straight has it’s own strugggles (read about it in my post here). Also, just to be clear, asexual people are NOT straight and asexuality is NOT the same as celibacy. Asexuality IS a separate orientation characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. Celibacy, on the other hand, is a choice, and that choice can be reversed most of the time. Asexuality, however, can’t be reversed. It may change, yes, but not by conscious choice. . They are part of a sexual minority. Hetero – romantic asexuals, for instance, are not straight because they are not SEXUALLY attracted to people of the opposite sex. In fact, Decker pointed out in the video, that hetero – romantic asexual couples (even married couples) can be denied adoption rights or have their marriage made annuled because of lack of sex, which, to me, is quite ridiculous.

Asexual people can face some employment and housing discrimination too, particularly in the US. In 2012, MacInnis and Hudson noted that asexual people face negative attitudes in mainstream society and even in legal matters (property, etc). These prejudices were seen as more prevalent against asexuals than LGB and heterosexuals. In the video on Asexual discrimination (which I showed in this post), Decker explained that at the time the video was being made, US states, New York and Vermont explicitly prohibited discrimination agianst asexual people on the basis of their orientation, like LGB people. She also pointed out that last year when she made the video, Texas had a bill that, if succesfully passed, would also prohibit discrimination against asexuals. Does anyone know whether this actually passed?

With all this in mind, do we need to align ourselves with the LGBT? Not necessarily. Each person to their own view on that one. But what I believe it does show is that there is problems with discrimination faced by the asexual community. Does it happen to everyone? Not necessarily. But it DOES happen.

So, that’s all for today in this post. Yes, asexual people do face their own challenges, not necessarily “worse” than other minorities, but it’s not something that should be ignored either. And I do applaud people, including members of the LGBT, (like bloggers hessianwithteeth), that do acknowledge and respect the asexual community. From me to all of you, I say ‘thank you’.