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Kamloops school administration clueless about homophobia

May 07, 2013 - 8:40 AM

"IF HE DIDN'T ACT SO GAY, THERE WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM"

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students have been bullied and even assaulted in Kamloops schools and school administration does not know how to deal with it, according to a local teachers' association.

Now local teachers are fighting back and looking to protect their students with a policy that would provide clear standards for administration on how to deal with cases of homophobic bullying and harassment in School District 73.

South Kamloops Secondary school teacher Don Wilson created a report on behalf of the Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association asking the board of education to adopt a policy to protect all students. He says the push to get a policy in place comes after instances of bullying turned to violence and while administration had the best of intentions, they did not know how to deal with the issue.

“The administration perspective seemed to me to be (that) the victim invited the harassment and intimidation because he was so 'campy.' If he didn't act so gay, there wouldn't be a problem,” Wilson says. “There was more discomfort than appropriate action. As a teacher, I found it all quite confusing, and my second-guessing the administration was not at all appreciated.”

Wilson, a member of the teachers' association's social justice committee, says if a policy defines homophobia and gives a process for addressing it, teachers and administration will be better equipped to handle a situation when it arises.

“We need to understand why harassment and violence occurs and provide guidance for dealing with it in restorative ways.”

Wilson and the teachers' association believe a policy clearly outlining what homophobic harassment is and how to deal with it will go a long way to helping students feel safer in our schools.

“Research has shown that the mere knowledge that an anti-homophobia policy is in place is correlated with a perception of school safety and inclusiveness.”

The perceived lack of support for sexual minorities in SD73 has resulted in some students attempting suicide as well, Wilson says.

In at least one Kamloops secondary school a gay straight alliance has been discontinued because student leaders are either not willing to support the group or are afraid to. Five of the seven secondary schools currently have or have recently had an alliance in Kamloops, making the district one of the more open in the province. Twenty of the 60 school districts in the province do have a specific policy about homophobic harassment.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call (250)819-3723.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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