Homophobia and transphobia still a worry for rainbow youth
More research is required on what works to curb incidents of homophobic and transphobic bulling with schools by and large continuing to remain a mostly unwelcome and hostile environment for young LGBTIQ people, a forum in western Sydney was told this week.
‘Homophobic Bullying: That’s so gay is not ok!’ held at the Parramatta campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) on Wednesday brought together LGBTIQ youth advocates, psychologists and experts on homophobic bullying to hear personal stories, get the facts and find out what can be done about homophobic bullying.
Professor Rhonda Craven, from the Centre for Positive Psychology and Education, highlighted research which showed those that were bullied were more likely to bully others while also calling for a greater focus on encouraging bystanders to take a more proactive stand when they witness homophobic bullying.
Craven said further research was now required on what strategies worked best in reducing homophobic bullying.
Jayde Ellis, the school and education coordinator for anti-discrimination rainbow youth organisation, Wear it Purple, shared her personal story of coming out and highlighted the invisibility of rainbow youth and the associated secrecy that many young LGBTIQ people experienced.
Gay activist and educator, Daniel Witthaus, the author of That’s So Gay, told SX though there were now record numbers of openly LGBTIQ students in schools, the “overwhelming majority” of homophobic language and behaviour continued to go unchallenged, with only the ‘occasional’ teacher challenging and interrupting it.
“Despite dazzling exceptions around the country, most LGBT young people do not feel safe and supported enough to come out in everyday schools. When they do come out, generally it’s in spite of their school environment and not because of it,” he said.
“The fact that it is ‘better these days’ refers mainly to an intention rather than everyday practice. Research evidence highlights that, practically, life for LGBT young people is not better.
“We know that students and teachers will be LGBT-friendly and supportive of young people they know and like, and when it’s convenient. Yet the true sign of progress is how we treat people we don’t necessarily know or like when it’s inconvenient.”
Photo: (L-R) Daniel Witthaus, Rhonda Craven and Jayde Ellis (Supplied: UWS Media)