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Challenging The Silence Essay

2065 words - 9 pages

A key contributor to establishing and maintaining heteronormative environments is the act of passivity by an authority figure. This refers to school staff’s reluctance to acknowledge a heterosexual bias, or to further concede the negative consequences of such a bias on students (Chenneville, Currie & Mayberry, 2011). As a result, heteronormativity is either not recognised, ignored or addressed by school authority. This provides a guide to what is a socially acceptable way to behave for students, with heteronormativity becoming a substrate on which homophobia builds (Chenneville et al., 2011). With increased bullying and marginalisation, LGB students are much less likely to reveal themselves ...view middle of the document...

More research needs to be directed towards how to develop more proficient expertise on handling such situations. However, it may take time to incorporate this into schooling at a university level. A more immediate opportunity for education may be presented in professional development courses. These are often available for teachers to educate themselves on issues such as mental health, culture and religion (Ferfolja, 2007). In spite of their accessibility, a study in New South Wales, Australia found that teachers had very minimal education related to lesbian, bisexual and gay youth issues (Ferfolja, 2007). Around two thirds of teachers surveyed expressed they had no education (Ferfolja, 2007).The minority who acknowledged some, said it was often limited to one session during a day’s professional development (Ferfolja, 2007). LGB youth face complex issues, intertwined with family relationships, stigmatisation from society as well as school environment and one session is not enough to fully illuminate these issues for staff (Ferfolja, 2007). This is yet another example of how a heteronormative environment is being supported and elevated at an institutional level, while non-heterosexuality is being further silenced and ignored (Ferfolja, 2007). Nonetheless, these professional development opportunities can serve to be a valuable platform for education on meeting the needs of LGB.

Educating teachers will have several positive consequences. First, it will equip teachers with the resources and practical ability to intercede in homophobic harassment (Ferfolja, 2007; Bellini & Kitchen, 2012). They will be able to express a no-tolerance environment to sexually orientated victimisation and provide a moment to educate students who are exhibiting such homophobic behaviour on why it’s not appropriate, the consequences of their actions and perhaps stimulate the students to evaluate their prejudices (Buston & Hart, 2001; Ferfolja, 2007; Bellini & Kitchen, 2012). Challenging heterosexist behaviour may not only apply to students but to other staff, similarly offering them the same opportunity to evaluate and change their behaviour. Secondly, they will have knowledge of how to use gender neutral, non-heterosexist language when engaging with students, enabling them to teach in a non-exclusive manner, and help LGB youth recognise it is a safe, open environment in which they can seek guidance (Buston & Hart, 2001; Ferfolja, 2007; Owens & Schneider, 2000). It’s important that students have a safe space to explore their own self-identity, and seek knowledge with the confidence they will not be dismissed or ignored (Owens & Schneider, 2000). Lastly, they will be able to effectively answer questions from students in a non-assumptive approach, and provide them with available resources for further information if necessary (Ferfolja, 2007).

There are a few limitations with educating teachers, particularly if the education is an elective option. It is possible that only...

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