Queer students and educational disadvantage

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Yesterday I submitted a short piece of assessment for my course, a 1500 word research essay.  The subject was social inclusion and inequity in school and we were required to focus on one particular aspect to write on – one disadvantaged group, you might say.  Indeed, the suggestions were along the lines of gender and schooling, ethnicity and schooling and social class and schooling etc.

My first thought, naturally, was what about sexuality and schooling damn it?  So I was pretty much resolved to tackle something like homophobia.  Being the champion procrastinator that I am the essay was left to the last minute.  I raced to the library, picked some books that looked like they might help, tracked down a few PDF journal articles, built my reference list – still with no clear idea what I was precisely writing about.  And then when I started to skim the references looking for quotes…

Incensed.  Absolutely incensed.  All of these peer reviewed articles and academic texts on equity and disadvantage, not to mention a government report, and none of them so much as mentioned sexual diversity as an indicator of disadvantage.  So I found some more articles and another book, and what I wrote turned out to be an essay about why queer and same-sex attracted students should be recognised as a disadvantaged group and priority given to them to redress the inequity that currently exists in the education system.

But I wonder what the wider queer community would say about that?  Would there be an outcry at being categorised as disadvantaged?  It’s such a touchy subject.  No one within a minority likes to think about themselves or anyone within their community as marginalised, and yet that’s exactly what’s happening to many same-sex attracted students, and they are suffering for it.  There are studies that have shown that the hidden curriculum of heteronormativity and heterosexism is alienating queer identifying students.  They are experiencing a sense of isolation from and mistrust of the school, and this is impacting on their academic performance.  It is also compromising their opportunities in terms of transitioning to higher education, and in turn limiting their career opportunities.  This is a very serious problem.

I wonder if I’ve actually seen this in action too.  Many years back I worked in a couple of call centres, and I noticed a disproportionate number of queer identifying people there.  At this time I thought it was awesome, but looking back I wonder if that was due to similar circumstances, whether those people were in jobs requiring low qualifications because they did not go on to post-secondary education.  Something to ponder.

I know what my family is worth

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Now I know this happened on Monday, and people have tweeted, facebooked and generally shared this all over the place already, but I just love it SO VERY MUCH.  I might not always agree with the Finance Minister’s stance on everything, but on Q and A on Monday night she nailed it.  She nailed it so hard I’ve barely been able to wipe the smile off my face since.

It’s so amazingly awesome to have a respected, eloquent, intelligent member of parliament get up in front of the public spotlight and just REPRESENT.  There’s no equivocation, no hesitation.  You’re just wrong Joe Hockey.

Thank you, Tony Jones, for allowing Penny Wong to close out the show with such a perfect line.  “I know what my family is worth.”

Freire

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I am about to embark upon Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  I’m feeling a little daunted.  I mean, I’m a big old lesbian lefty with aspirations to be this totally awesome activist teacher, but Freire‘s vocabulary alone is enough to make me wince.  What even is dialogical?  Not to mention conscientização.

I went to a symposium recently, an unconference as they called it, run by the Popular Education Network Australia.  It was titled Freire Reloaded, and it was so inspiring and amazing and everyone was quoting Freire and discussing ways to take what Freire was saying forty odd years ago and make it a little more applicable today…  and I just felt like a little kid at their dad’s work.  Or like a year seven student sitting in a year twelve class.  I could understand the words but I felt like I was missing the vital core points.

Thus my latest trip to the university library yielded me an old, much loved copy of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and I’m looking forward to diving in.  In all my free time.  When I’m not trying to write papers and work on projects.

I’ll keep you abreast of my progress.

Six-year old wisdom for the Prime Minister

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This says it all really.  Written by the six-year old daughter of our friends to Julia Gillard.  She is an amazing little person, and this…  is beyond beautiful.

But it got me to thinking.  I wonder how many six year old children of fundamentalist Christian families write similar letters (from the opposing viewpoint, naturally)?  Do they write letters?  Are they forced to write letters?

I know I’m completely biased but this unprompted and from the heart missive must be so much more meaningful than anything that comes from ignorance and brainwashing.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I’m hoping this might actually make it into JG’s hands.  Stella Young is meeting with the PM this evening and has tweeted that perhaps she should show it to her.  I hope so.  How can you argue with that letter?

Equality matters.

Killing in the name of

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Human beings are problematic, are they not? So much celebration over the death of Gaddafi, and yet is it really right to celebrate death? Wasn’t there enough murder and death in Libya already, without adding to that and then cheering? Yes, it’s amazing and wonderful for Libya that they are now free of an oppressive dictatorship, but…
Celebration of death leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Where is the real pro-life sentiment? The irony of the ‘pro-life at all costs’ movement is that they advocate suffering and pain and sometimes death in the pursuit of their supposed high moral ground. They’re often the ones that support the death penalty, the ones that cheer at the death of Bin Laden. The ones that would let the uninsured die rather than support state medical services. The ones that turn a blind eye to perpetrators of hate crimes against gays and transgender people.
I call bullshit.
Where does that leave me? I would say that I am pro-life because I do not believe in the taking of life. Yet I am fiercely pro-choice. A woman’s body, a woman’s right to decide. Are they mutually exclusive? I don’t believe so, but I’m not sure I could articulate why.

Freedom of speech

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Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of noise in comments about left-wing activists being just as bad as the right-wing zealots.  Really?  Really.  Their theory seems to be that by complaining about the bilge the (predominantly Christian) zealots spew freely out, we are therefore denying them the right of free speech, which they think means we are oppressing them.

Lying awake here tonight I was thinking about this. I saw more examples of this phenomenon on twitter this evening following Q and A with that stellar specimen of humanity, Jim Wallace.  I didn’t actually watch the show tonight for fear of high blood pressure and nightmares at being subjected to Wallace and his Australian Christian Lobby prejudice.  I didn’t even follow the hashtag, it was enough to watch the developments in my own feed.

I’ve come to the conclusion that those people are full of shit.  Freedom of speech should not equate to freedom of hate or freedom of discrimination.  Those on the left don’t go around complaining about Christians practicing their religion or living their lives, they only arc up when those people start using their religion as an excuse to segregate, to discriminate, to hurt people in the name of god.  And they do hurt people.  They may not be out there physically assaulting gays (but there are those who do, let’s all remember Matthew Shepard) but every time someone like Jim Wallace gets on national tv and says gays should not marry, gays will never be good parents…  that hurts people.  That even kills people.  Because young gay kids hear this at school, hear it in their communities and even in their own homes, and when it all seems too much they are so much more likely to commit suicide.

So I say to you it is bullshit.  I allow no freedom to your speech if your speech is hateful and hurtful.  I believe all people should be allowed to live equally and freely, just as it states in the Human Rights Charter.  In Liss’ perfect utopian bubble world nobody starves, nobody dies from lack of medical attention and everybody is free to live their life and practice their religion as long as they do not harm anyone or foist their beliefs on anyone.  Live and let live.  Keep it simple, stupid.  I will not tell you how to live your life if you do not interfere with mine or my family’s.

Respect seems to be such a precious commodity these days, in extremely short supply.