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Homophobia and Transphobia

— By 25 July 2011
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HOMOPHOBIA
Used to describe a whole range of negative feelings or behaviours towards anyone who is same sex attracted. Homophobia can also affect people who others think are same sex attracted, as well as those who have family members or friends who are same sex attracted.

In schools, the most common form of homophobia is the use of homophobic language. This can be name-calling, homophobic “jokes”, rumours and abusive words, such as ‘fag’ or ‘dyke’. Even phrases like “that’s so gay” which compare sexuality to words like ‘crap’ are homophobic and can have a really negative effect that might not seem obvious to everyone.

Homophobic behaviour can also include abusive threats or actual physical violence, sexual harassment and deliberately excluding someone because of their sexuality.

TRANSPHOBIA
Used to describe a whole range of negative feelings or behaviours towards anyone who is transgender or gender diverse. Transphobia, and fixed ideas about gender, can affect a lot of people, including those that have transgender friends or family members.

Transgender and gender diverse students often find school a challenging place to express their gender identity. You may have heard transphobic language like ‘tranny’, or other comments such as “you act like a girl” or “why do you have a boy’s haircut” that can have a really negative impact.

Transphobia can also include specific restrictions on the way that students are allowed to express their gender; things like which uniform you’re allowed to wear or toilets you can use at school. All of these things can seriously affect the physical and mental wellbeing of transgender and gender diverse students, as well as their ability to engage in school.

Transphobia and homophobia can happen face to face, at school, online or even by text. All transphobia and homophobia is bullying, goes against school policies and can potentially be illegal. Nobody should have to tolerate any form of transphobia or homophobia, ever.

THE RESEARCH
75% of same sex attracted or gender diverse young people in Australia experience some form of homophobic or transphobic abuse.
61% of same sex attracted or gender diverse young people in Australia experience verbal homophobic or transphobic abuse.
19% of same sex attracted or gender diverse young people in Australia experience physical homophobic abuse.
80% of these homophobic and transphobic incidents take place in schools.

This is pretty bad, but we also know that;
10% or more people in Australia are same sex attracted. This means that if your school has 1000 students, there are likely more than 100 who are same sex attracted.
1.7% or more people in Australia are intersex. This means there are likely to be several intersex students in a school of 1000.
5% or more people in Australia are transgender or gender diverse. This means that if your school has 1000 students, there are likely more than 50 who are transgender and/or gender diverse.

So, you aren’t alone! A lot of the time people just don’t think about being homophobic or transphobic and have never been called out on it. Some don’t even realise that a simple phrase like “that’s so gay” or a comment such as “you walk like a girl” can cause hurt to another person.

WHY CHALLENGE HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA?
It might seem like an odd question to ask – but it’s important to know the answer for when people ask you. Nobody likes bullying, right? We all have the right to be free from bullying and discrimination. The law states that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status at school is illegal

Not only that, but homophobia and transphobia can have very real consequences for people’s physical, emotional, and mental health and wellbeing. For many who have been on the receiving end of homophobic or transphobic bullying, it can lead to negative feelings, skipping classes, and not being able to do their best at school.

We know that there can also be some pretty serious health outcomes for young people who are affected by homophobia - things like unwanted pregnancy, being more likely to catch a sexually transmissible infection, taking drugs, self-harming and even suicide.

Fixed ideas about what it means to be a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ can have really negative effects on transgender, intersex and gender diverse young people and young people with intersex traits. Having to deal with transphobia can lead to a lot of the same outcomes as homophobia.

Homophobia and transphobia have an effect on everyone, particularly in schools. You or your friends might be same sex attracted or gender diverse, or someone in your family, or one of your teachers. Like sexuality and gender identity, being intersex is not always visible and negative comments can be hurtful. Nobody should made to feel bad about being different or uncomfortable trying to be themselves.

At the end of the day though, we can all agree that bullying, harassment, and being made to feel unsafe is never OK, especially at school.

We created this guide to give you ideas on how to create change in your school. We want to give you information on what you have a right to do, and help make sure that what you decide to do has a real impact. Hopefully by the end you will feel more confident and ready to stand up and stand out.

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