LGBTQ students: facts and rights

In the past, members of the LGBTQ community were maltreated and burdened by the expectations of western society. In many places, this is still happening, and there are a great deal of misconceptions surrounding this topic. Schools are beginning to catch up with the rise of freedoms in North America, allowing previously marginalized groups of students to be treated with dignity and respect. Although this is an improvement, there are still a lot of changes that need to be made, not only in schools, but across the globe.

Rights

In New Brunswick, LGBTQ students have a handful of rights. According to the province’s policies, (703, 322, NBTA 598-3 and E-9) students in New Brunswick have rights and freedoms that are crucial for the progression of each individual and in society.

Behaviors such as bullying, intimidation and harassment are seen as unacceptable, as well as disrespectful language or gestures. Education is required to be inclusive and based on each individual’s best interests. Educators have several responsibilities in this regard, such as the duty to educate themselves and reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors. They should help eliminate homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in working and learning environments. They should also work together to allow for a safe environment for all students.

According to the NBIAA, transgender people are required to participate in the sports team that corresponds with their gender identity. They have the right to self-identification and freedom of expression, to be treated fairly, equitably and with dignity, inclusion, freedom from harassment and violence, and ways to get help should they need it without the fear of repercussion. They have the right to safe restroom facilities and the right to use a washroom that best corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of the student’s sex assigned at birth. Schools should also have flexible, gender neutral dress codes, and must use a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.

Thoughts in the school

While briefly interviewing students, I came across numerous views on this topic. Most knew people from the LGBTQ community. Despite this, they knew very little about the topic. My sources would prefer to remain anonymous, and for good reason too. The issues LGBTQ students have to deal with are controversial and divisive. There is a general lack of understanding between people who aren’t part of the community, however it’s essential that they voice their opinions and thoughts so that we can better help their understanding.

The two extremes of answers I got were equally disheartening and hopeful. The following are several statements I received from my sources. I would have omitted the more offensive ones, but I feel that the ignorance surrounding this topic needs to be addressed. I will let the readers decide on these statements for themselves.

“It’s come a long way, but they still need to improve.”

“I don’t really want to judge, but there doesn’t need to be 20 genders.”

“You’re just confused.”

“I feel like the school is accepting.”

“Gender is too stereotyped.”

“I know people who are (gay).”

“LHDXYZ whatever.”

“Excuse to tolerate some f***** in a dress.”

“It’s come a long way in the past few years we’ve been here.”

“The Chinese made a program in schools to brainwash kids into being confused about their gender. It corresponds with their communist agenda.”

Image result for lgbt history

LGBTQ people in history

From Alexander the Great and Julie d’Aubigny to Freddie Mercury, LGBTQ figures have long existed throughout history. Two-Spirited people are a unique phenomenon among Native Americans, long before modern times, and ancient civilizations have had same-sex relations for centuries. In India and southern Asia, Hijras are an official government-recognized third gender.

Justice KS Radhakrishnan declared transgender to be the third gender in Indian law in April 2014, in a case brought by the National Legal Services Authority.

“Seldom, our society realises or cares to realise the trauma, agony and pain which the members of Transgender community undergo, nor appreciates the innate feelings of the members of the Transgender community, especially of those whose mind and body disown their biological sex. Our society often ridicules and abuses the Transgender community and in public places like railway stations, bus stands, schools, workplaces, malls, theatres, hospitals, they are sidelined and treated as untouchables, forgetting the fact that the moral failure lies in the society’s unwillingness to contain or embrace different gender identities and expressions, a mindset which we have to change.”

If there’s one thing to be sure of, it’s that these ideas are not new.

Resources

To access direct mental health services related to suicidal ideation contact any of the following New Brunswick community mental health centres, but please ensure that these centres are LGBTQ inclusive or have access to LGBTQ inclusive services.

Bathurst 506-547-2038             Miramichi 506-778-6111

Campbellton 506-789-2440      Moncton 506-856-2444

Caraquet 506-726-2030           Richibucto 506-523-7620

Edmundston 506-735-2070    St. Stephen 506-466-7380

Fredericton 506-453-2132      Saint John 506-658-3737

Grand Falls 506-475-2440      Sussex 506-432-2090

Kedgwick 506-284-3431          Woodstock 506-325-4419

Kids Help Phone:  1-800-668-6868

PSAC 

Moncton PFLAG Canada – www.pflagcanada.ca

SIDA/AIDS Moncton 80 Weldon Street Moncton, NB E1C 5V8 T: (506) 859-9616 F: (506) 855-4726 sidaidsm@nbnet.nb.ca www.sida-aidsmoncton.com

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