Monday, May 2, 2011

Talking Point #3- GLSEN

Shared Differences Examines LGBT Students of Color Experiences in School (Connections)

     In surfing through the GLESN website, I found many different articles and examples of media that effected me in many ways.  I chose this article/report to share with the rest of you because I felt it spoke very loudly on not only the discrimination of sexual orientation and gender expression, but also the included discrimination of race and different ethnic backgrounds.  It is bad enough people all over the world are judged and treated differently because of their "difference" in attraction to people of the same gender instead of opposite, or attraction to both genders, and even the "difference" in their representation of the gender they are "supposed" to be.  On top of the harassment, judgment, torture, etc resulting in these "differences," they also have to deal with it in regards to their race or ethnic background.  Think of how difficult and miserable your life would be if you personally had to deal with this on a daily basis as a teen, a young adult, a student, a coworker, a grown adult, or wherever you fall at this point in your life.

     This report documents experiences of over 2,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gender middle and high school students of color who were African American or Black, Latino/a, Asian or Pacific Islander, Native American, and multiracial.  Many of their responses included how the unfortunate events that occur bring them down emotionally and greatly discourage their hopes for their schools ever becoming a better place.  Numerous students were extremely hurt by simply one word (the one word varies from different examples) that too many people use so loosely, whether it be directly or indirectly, such as "fag" or "fairy" in regards to someone being gay.  A reference to the words of GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard, she talks about the importance of understanding how each students' experiences differ based on their race, ethnicity, and other personal characteristics.  A few of the key findings included are:
   -- 4 out of 5 LGBT students, within each racial/ethnic group, reported verbal harassment in school because of sexual orientation and about 2/3 because of gender expression.  At least 1/3 of each group reported physical violence in school because of sexual orientation.
   -- About 1/4 of African American/Black and Asian/Pacific Islander had missed class or days of school because they felt unsafe.  Latino/a, Native American, and multiracial students were even more likely to be absent for safety reasons-about a third or more skipped class at least once or missed at least one day of school for safety reasons.
   -- Less than half of the students of color who had been harassed or assaulted in school in the past year said that they ever reported the incident to school staff.  For those students that did report incidents, less than half believed that the staff resulting response was at all effective.
These are just a few of the numerous shocking facts of this report and in my opinion they are nauseating.  The idea of these students and the countless amount of other students, or people of the general population, being mistreated in such ways is disgusting.  I could go on for pages or days about everything I feel is wrong about this, and I feel that the media and our minimal positive exposure to to these issues from childhood has a huge part to do with how society reacts today.  Throughout the semester and all of our readings, I think the two authors that strongly relate to this report and my opinions are Lisa Delpit with "The Silences Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children," and Linda Christensen with "Enlearning the Myths That Bind Us."

     In regards to Delpit's piece, she discusses the rules and codes of power in society and the exposure and information students receive from their teachers, or should receive.  Although in my given article from the GLSEN website does not refer to social class or other examples Delpit uses, it does involve race and the ideas of sexual orientation and gender expression.  The statistics and all of the information we receive from the Shared Differences article, I saw as examples that could tie into the rules and codes of power Delpit displays.  The discrimination and mistreatment of students illustrated in the article are partly results of the difference in race and ethnicity from the predominantly white society, in which Delpit describes in her discussion of the "culture of power."  Just like we talked about in class using S.C.W.A.A.M.P., being white and straight with a known definite gender is dominant in society, and differing from these characteristics gives you less "power" in the world we live in.  You as an individual being "different," are less valued and put down for being who you are.  Your person and style of living goes against the rules and codes of power, or the "culture of power."

    Christensen's piece is much shorter of a reading, but I feel delivers just as strong of a message.  All of the discrimination and judgment of differences in society originated from somewhere.  It may have started by word of mouth and the influence of others around you and the environment you grew up in, but unfortunately now there are numerous more sources where these misconceptions and negatively portrayed issues are displayed.  The media, no matter what type of media (magazine, news, television programs, movies, billboards, etc.) have a great influence on today's society and the opinions we have.  Thankfully there are a large amount of people that don't agree with the portrayal and displays of racism and sexual orientation, but there are too many that do follow in what majority of the media says.  Christensen talks about Disney movies and the roles of females, and princess', along with the race and gender of the dominant roles in films, story books, and television programs.  The portrayal of LGBT and race/ethnicity in all types of media is often negatively or incorrectly displayed, effecting the views of people all over the world.  In result of such a strong influence, LGBT and/or people of different a different race/ethnicity suffer from all the given examples.  If the digital world does not change the way they illustrate the lives of people out of the "social norm," such behavior will only continue and could even ruin the lives of many people.

A video I found of a boy talking about being gay and the stereotypes of being gay...thought it was pretty interesting!!!

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