This presentation put on by URpride was a great learning opportunity for educators. The majority of the presentation involved discussing various terms related to the diverisity of gender and sexuality. After learning more about what each term really meant, we discussed how to help students who self-identify to one or more of these terms in the school setting.
One portion of this presentation that I found very helpful as an educator, is learning that “homosexual” or “homosexuality” is a dated-term to be using to refer to those who self-identify as gay or lesbian. I learned that this term is commonly viewed now as negative, and should not be used within a classroom setting. This term has a negative conotation, as it was (until recently) refferenced as a medical diagnosis of mental illness.
Leo also provided us with a website which I found to be very eye-opening as to the homophobic language that continues to be used in social media today. ‘No Homophobes’ is a website which shows the number of times per day, week, and within the year, that homophobic hashtags have been used on Twitter. For example, it shows that today, “so gay” has been used on Twitter today 2,767 times and couting: just today. It then shows that “so gay” has been hashtagged 10 005 979 times from July 5th, 2012 to November 16th, 2015. Leo suggested possibly using this website in the classroom (with older students) when students may be using homophobic language in the classroom. This could provide the students with a visual of how others are using this lanaguge, and prompt a discussion if they think these tweets are respectful to be putting on social media.
You can view the No Homophobes website, here.
In closing, Leo provided us with 4 tips that safer schools have for students in the queer community, and tips that we as educators should advocate for in our schools.
1) Gay & Straight Alliances: clubs for gay and straight students to become allies, and create a place where students can feel safe
2) Gender Neutral Washrooms
3) Policies which acknowledge gay rights for students
4) Educated teachers, administration & support staff
Overall, this was a very informative seminar which provided information and tips to create educated advocators. If you would like to learn more about what is happening on campus regarding sexual and gender diversity, please check out the UR Pride Centres website!