Taking a stand against homophobia in schools

Whenever I look at my students I am torn,  assaulted by different emotions.  Walking in the corridors I may hear the abusive term “faggot” addressed by one male student to another male student to joke or have fun.  I feel sad, I wonder, what am I doing as a teacher if I can’t make my students understand that words can be loaded weapons? Words of abuse should never be used, least of all used “to have fun”.  Aren’t I right? Abusive words hurt deeply, sometime hurt irrevocably.  How can they be used “just to sound funny”? It is sad, but our society is growing full of paradoxes, so full that they become the norm to some people.  Do I sound pessimistic? Am I turning into a dejected teacher, an educator who has lost her drive and passion?  Hopefully NOT.  I always try to look at the other side of the coin, that is I try to focus on the students who cherish my soul, who fill my heart with new hope.  There are lots of students who are capable of great insight and deep feelings, empathy and understanding.  You are those students.  You decided to focus on a subject most students would never choose.  I know you will stupify me and make me proud of having had the chance of working 5 whole years with you.

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Have you ever witnessed any homophobic attitudes in your school? Have you ever heard of any?  If so, what did you do?

The following video, taken from an interesting website, is my starting point for our project on homosexuality.  I want to start with the issue of homophobia in schools.

Watch the video and jot down on a piece of paper some considerations.  How did you feel after watching it? Do you find this video effective in its message, namely that of taking a stand against bullying homosexuals?

Now watch the following social ad, write down the words associated with a homosexual and think of at least one example to support the statements.

What steps would you take in your school to promote the awareness of the need to tackle the issue of homophobia?  What would your slogan be? What video would you make to sensitise your peers?  Would you celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia? How?

What are the words of abuse used towards homosexuals?

Watch the following video created by students like you.  It raises lots of different issues.  What are they?

 

Lots of famous people have taken a stance against homophobia.  Read their words.  Which statement do you feel closer to?  Why?

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Video by AnnaGiulia Nadin

Video by Xheni Mullahi

This powerpoint presentation by Priska Babuin may be of interest to you all.

Criminalization of homosexuality and State-sponsored homophobia

These are the videos that Priska showed you in class, during her presentation.  I want to share them on this blog just because some people may be interested and find them interesting.

Any artistic form of self-expression can be taken as an example to speak out and speak up against homophobia.  There are many writers that deal with or hinted at homosexuality and film directors that investigate this issue.  Rossana Solari presentation on the film adaptation of “My Beautiful Launderette” by Anif Kureishi is worth reading.

My beautiful Laundrette

Some of you worked on the tragic case of Matthew Shepard, an American student who was beaten, tortured and left to die on the night of October 6, 1998 because he was gay.  It was a case of gay bashing, of hate crime.  Matthew’s parents founded the Matthew Shepard foundation in memory of their son, an LGBT non-profit organization.

The Matthew Shepard story by Corsunov Julia

The Laramie Project is a 2002 drama film written and directed by Moisés Kaufman. Based on the play of the same name, the film tells the story of the aftermath of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. It premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Laramie Project

The Laramie Project 2

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8 risposte a Taking a stand against homophobia in schools

  1. Giulia Girardi scrive:

    Unfortunately i have never witnessed any homophobic attitudes in my school or in my entire life till now. I say “unfortunately” because I would like to see any in order to defend the “victim” and let the bully understand that he is a coward because he know that his “prey” has not weapons to protect himself, therefore he is defenceless and it is easier to hurt him.

    I think the video is effective in its message but for me it is a little bit basic: I know, it is difficult to render the message in a four-minute video, but if I were the director I would make it more credible and dense in meaning. I am not saying that it was superficial and banal, absolutely not, and I would recommend to watch it to my friends, just to grasp the concept. However when I saw that bullies mocking at that poor and defenceless boy I would have entered the screen of my computer and beat them up and then torture them with words that would have emotively injured them. I mean, who were them to judge a homosexual couple?

    MARGINALIZED, RIDICULED, INSULTED, ATTACKED, IMPRISONED, ASSASSINATED, CONDEMNED TO DEATH.
    Unfortunately these adjectives are true: an homosexual person cannot express his/herself through his/her attitudes because that kind of behaviour is not accepted by the others who feel themselves as the normal and perfect ones. An example of this condemnation are the increasing-in-number suicides which homosexuals commit because they feel like chopped and suffocated by a society that do not try to understand, support and defend them.

    I would like to make everyone understand that a gay person is not so different or wrong as it is thought. It is part of human nature, the fact to reject something that is abnormal or simply unusual and therefore we always have difficulties in accepting the “different” and it is what limits our minds. I would make a video in which would appear homosexuals among eterosexuals and then ask to the viewers if it is so strange and unacceptable to see this “mixture” of sexual orientations. I think it would be effective enough.
    I wouldn’t celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia because for me it is even more powerful being one and fight against prejudices in my small piece of world than being a huge crowd and support gay’s situation with words only.

    POOF, QUEEN, FAIRY, QUEER, FAG.

    Gay people are infected, they have problems and therefore cannot do their job properly.

    Anne Hathaway.

  2. Lara De Piero scrive:

    It frequently happens to me, while I’m walking in the corridors of our school, to hear boys using the word “faggot” addressing to their friends: I am certain of the fact that they use this word inappropriately, but I am also sure that it’s not a matter of homophobia. What I am trying to say is that they are just shallow guys, who not even know the deep meaning of the word “faggot”. I am not defending them, but I want to highlight the fact that, in my opinion, homophobia is something more intense, more heavy: homophobia is the “antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality” and for this very reason I can say that I have never witnessed a “true” homophobic attitude in my school, but I know that, unfortunately, this happens every single day in our world.

    I think taking a stand against homophobia in schools is a good starting point in order to reduce this “phenomenon”. I believe in the message the video is promoting, but at the same time I think it’s not very powerful because it’s not so easy to convince a person, who is resolutely in his opinion, that his/her way to see things is wrong: if I were the director of this video I would have chosen an homosexual pair as protagonist who behaves as a “normal” couple and I would have shown that they are treated in the same way heterosexuals are and that they to the same things heterosexuals do, in order to make people aware of the fact that there is no difference between us, independently we are homosexuals or heterosexuals. We are just human beings!

    Marginalized, ridiculed, insulted, attacked, imprisoned, assassinated, condemned to death: it’s a beautiful life? Luckily nowadays, at least in our country, homosexual people do not end up in prison and are not sentenced to death anymore, but on the other hand homosexuals are fighting so that their rights are officially recognized and, in order to assert themselves (for example in the protests), they make a fool of themselves, but just as a provocation. Obviously there are homosexuals who display their attitude in an exaggerated way, but mainly you can’t understand he/her is an homosexual. However, always more frequently homosexual people decide to put an end to their life by committing suicide because the society, but even their own families are not supporting them and so they feel different, they feel misunderstood : this aspect is something that should make us, passive observers, reflect and incite us to take a stand against homophobia.

    Homophobia is becoming part of our society, but it’s wrong and we have to free our world of all these prejudices! My slogan would be this statement. As there is the Women’s Day, the Mother’s Day, the Father’s Day and so on, I consider it is fair that there was even the International Day Against Homophobia, or better the Homosexuals’ Day, which celebrate the fact that we are all equal, that there aren’t differences between us and that we have the same rights. We have to assert ourselves, not just being a part of an indifferent crowd.

    The last video shows that our society is affected by discrimination, prejudice, injustice, but the true is that a gay person can love as much as every other person, if not more. I really like the statement of Morgan Freeman because I think the word “homophobia” is a contradiction in terms, namely: it is use to represent an aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people, but if you analyse the deep meaning of the word, you realise that you are the “different person”, you fear the homosexuals (due to the meaning of the word “phobia”) and so you are the only one who is “sick”.

  3. Sara Marini scrive:

    Sara Marini
    I have never seen anyone insulting or acting with hate towards an homosexual, but I know that it happen every day all over the world, even in my school. I mean,I have never seen a direct verbal accuse, but jokes with other guys or somehow behind that particular person. That’s sad i think.
    I mean, making jokes about something that should be considered normal.
    When I heard about it, I honestly refuse to listen any further and I just ask to stop talking in this way.

    The fist video is beautiful, a powerful example of union and cooperation against prejudices (and yes, even silly behaviour). This video moved me, because all of these students and young people are together, trying to knock down the guys that are moking and teasing two other boys just because they love each other.
    I find it very effective because it explane the great power that we have, as society, to fight against injustice.
    Of course i would support the International Day Against Homophobia, maybe giving my support on social networks (facebook, twitter..).
    My slogan would be
    “Fore those who are against homosexuality: yes, I agree with you, there is a shame in our society, but it is not the one that you are talking about…

    I’ve looked in the Wiki page that you showed us in class, and I never thought that there are so many words that can insult homosexual people. That is dreadful.
    The video “Stop Homophobia” raises some important issue. they are:
    prejudice,injustice,discrimination, toward homosexual people.
    Disequality in front of the law, abuse of some kind of words,

    I really like the quotation from “Anne Hataway” because it explains that you are not brave or particulary special because you promote gay rights.
    You are just a human being that fights for something that is natural. I mean, we are talking about love that other people feel, why should we be against it? What if we were in their shoes? It wouldn’t be nice.

  4. Xheni Mullahi 5^H scrive:

    I have never witnessed scenes of bulling someone because of his/her sexual orientations
    at school, the only ones that I heard are the ones on Tv or on the web.
    1) The first video I think is not “original”, because I have seen that scene where people
    create a “team” in favor of any kind of discrimination, in this case they give the hand to each other, in other they just stand up to show that they are against or in favor of something.
    So I think that is not so effective is like a copy and paste of other film scenes!
    2) MARGINELIZED: Gay people are mariginalized because their a minority so the majority wins them.
    RIDICULED: They are ridiculed for their behaviours , they are used is some tv-shows just for making people laugh and to have more audience.
    INSULTED: They don’t respect the laws of nature, so they do not deserve respect from the other.
    ATTACKED: Everything they say is absurd, that’s why theay are always criticised.
    IMPRISONED: Gay can affect children, the only solution is to imprison them.
    ASSASINATED: Not all the Hitlers are dead, someone believes that killing them thay can save humanity! (the same for condamned to death).
    3)Is not easy to find a way to promote awareness in the issue of Homophobia, I think that our school is not close to students, I mean if you have a problem you can not rely on the school. The school should give some hours to dedicate for this issue where students discuss and find videos, documents and photos inherent with the argument. In future our ” Area di Progetto” could be a document for the futures “grigolettiani”.
    My Slogan should be: “It’s my life, I decide how It should be like”.
    I would make a video comparing holocaust to some Homophobic scenes shooted in our days.
    I would take part to the International day against homophobia supporting people who are discriminate because the more we are the better it is, even if I am eterosexual I can bear homophobic attitudes!
    The are so many words that you can create a dictionary, the most popular is “faggot” and it is the cleanest one, I don’t want to write them because they are not part of “my words”!
    The last video deals with the issue of:
    ° Gay are sick so they can affect other people
    ° People lose their job becuse their sexuality
    ° Gay marriage that in some countries are not legal, so the partner can’t decide for the other partner when is in hospital because actually they are not considered married!
    °The power of the words, sometimes just a word can depress somebody, so we have to pay attentions when we abuse “words”.

    I like the slogan of Morgan Freeman because If only people mind their own business the word Hoomphobia would not even exist!

  5. Pitton Elisa scrive:

    I’ve never seen anyone being bullied for being homosexual in my school, but I know that has happened and it is still happening. A girl that attended my school some years ago told me that she had a classmate who seems in his behaviour “a little bit gay” and, for this reason, he was continually teased (or, for example, his classmates obliged him to change clothes in the bathroom before the PE lessons and so on). She didn’t agree with the others and she defend him but obviously not everybody saw the thing in the same way.
    I would not accept this type of scenes, I would become so angry and be so disgusted by these people that probably I wouldn’t be able to calm down and pretend that nothing happened, because everybody has the right to be what he/she really is.

    I find the video not too original, but easy to understand and clear in his point. For me, it is especially useful if being seen in middle school/first years of high school to give an idea to students of how they could change things taking a stand against homophobia and to make them understand how important is that everybody do his own part. And this is could be so simple!

    MARGINALIZED, RIDICULED, INSULTED, ATTACKED, IMPRISONED, ASSASSINATED, CONDEMNED TO DEATH
    We are not equal before the law. That’s the truth. Even nowadays homosexuals are fighting for their rights. They fight in order to have some respect and be treated as normal human beings. They fight because they don’t want to hide or feel ashamed anymore. They are fighting for the future generations. They don’t feel tired and they don’t give up.

    I think I would “oblige”students to see this type of videos and take publicly a stand against or in favour homophobia explaining why. It is easier to realize that you are considering something wrong when you say it out loud and when you have to support your statement.
    My slogan would be something as : “Life is too short and beautiful to waste it on pretending to be what you’re not”
    I don’t know if it is necessary “ A day against Homophobia”. The Homophobia shouldn’t exist and people should remember it every single day of every year, not just during a feast.

    I like what Daniel Radcliffe said : “You don’t have to be gay to be a supporter, you just have to be human”. In my opinion there’s no need to explain this statement, let your heart do it.

  6. Sara Pavan scrive:

    I am glad to say that I have never witnessed any homophobic attitudes in my school and this makes me proud of my school mates, because it means that there are lots of tolerant open-minded people around! This thought gives me hope and should also gives hope to those people who are discriminated for their sexual orientation, because I think that what hits them the most, is the losing of hope. With what I have just said, I surely do not want to say that there are not any homophobic attitudes, because, unfurtunately, we heard about them every day in the news and we daily read something about this issue in the paper. Homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people are victims of bulling, stalcking, insulting, beating and I find it terrible. It is vital that we, as students, and everybody else take a stand against homophobia.
    By the way, I have heard lots of people refearing to someone or something as “gay”, but I do not think that it is really meant to be a word of abuse: most of the time it is said as a joke refeared to a friend, because the person who sais it may be ignorant or naive, so the term is used in a superficial way (obviously people should think a little bit more before speaking, because somebody could be offended).
    If I can add a personal thought, I would like to say that for some people it is still difficult to accept homosexuality as an ordinary thing and that does not mean that they are against or that they discriminate homosexual people. It is just that someone is deep-rooted in tradiction and in culture and it is also due to the fact that they have never really get in touch with an homosexual person. If it were so, they would have recognize that there are no differences between an hetero and a gay person.

    The video that hit me the most was the first one, because we can see how difficult ordinary life can be for an homosexual, and I know it for a personal experience of a dear friend of mine. I felt extremely happy when everybody stands up, challenging the school-bullies; it is a very strong powerful and meaningful message, because it stands for the world’s slowly exchangeing from pretending not to see, to tolerance.
    I would like to conclude with the quotation that I liked the most, the one by Anne Hathaway: “There are people who’ve said that I’m being brave for being openly supportive of gay marriage, gay adoption… With all due respect, I humbly dissent. I am not being brave, I’m a decent human being… Love, is a human experience, not a political statement”.

    Sara Pavan

  7. Lisa scrive:

    Fortunately in our school I have not heard of any homophobic attitude, but I remembered that when I was at “scuola media” there were people who had fun making jokes on other students. It happened even in my class, because there were some immature people who found as an entertainment the fact of mocking students with a particular behaviour. Often they were not “sexually” different, but maybe shy and this increased their desire of isolation.
    I think that the video choosen was very effective and interesting, not only verosimile/real. Unfortunately this things are widely diffused and causes a lot of problems on people who are injured. It is really important to denounce this facts and it is even foundamental making young people understand the importance of helping people who meets thirselfs in difficult situations. If you really want to take a stance against homofobia, you cannot only be in favour or tollerant, but you must face the problem actively. Otherwise people will continue to be bulled. This video was a strong example.
    After seeing the video I felt a little bit guilty, because I have the impression of having nothing to do for these people. At the same time I thought that not to be intollerant and being interested in their problems can just be a good start.
    I think that school is the perfect reality to expose and awareness students and their families, but it is important to be effective adopting the right way to do it. In my opinion it could be useful the creation of slogans hanging on the walls, expecially in some celebrations like the International Day Against Homofobia. I think it can be interesting to use films about this argument to support the project. I have seen the neu film”The life of Adèle”, which has won the cannes’ festival and than “Brokeback mountain” too. They are really exciting and involving and I adore them; I obviousely recommend it to my peers. There is a huge world of offensive words used agaist homosexuals. The most popular is the term “faggot” or “gay”, for male and “lesbian”or “dyke” for females. They are only some of the large quantity of nicknames given to these people.
    I think the one of Daniel Radcliffe results very effective and that it is closer to my thoughts.

  8. Alessia B. 5^H scrive:

    Alessia B. 5^HI have never personally witnessed any homophobic attitude in my school or anywhere else but I know there are many people who are against homosexuals and make fun of them simply because they are “different” and emarginated from everyone else, which makes them easy prey for the bullies. If I knew there were people against homosexuality in my schools, I would probably hold a conference on this subject, in order to raise the students’ awareness. As a slogan, I would probably pick up Morgan Freeman’s quotation or Anne Hathaway’s one, since I really liked them and I think they are the most powerful ones. By using strong words and expressing strong judgements against homophobic people, they make them feel ashamed and I hope they can make them reflect about their behaviour, attitude towards other people and, most of all, about the words they use against other people. Then I would like to have them see the first video about the two boys holding hands to make them understand that they (homophobic people) are the wrong ones, they are the different ones and thus should not discriminate gay people, because that doesn’t make you look “cool” or stronger, it just makes you look stupider than you already are.
    Then, if there were homophobic people in my school, I would also celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, for the same reasons as before.

    There are many abusive words used against homosexuals but the most common ones are probably FAGGOT, QUEER, DYKE and so on…
    Even if I think sometimes people use words without even realizing (as calling your friend “bitch” as a joke, only to show your “love”) we should think about the way these words might affect the people around us and how, by using them without really thinking about it, we are the ones directly spreading these stereotypes and we are unconsciously offending them.

    The last video raises many different issues such as, to mention some of them, the way we use words (abusive words), the importance of legalizing gay marriage and the way our culture affects our way of thinking and affects children.