Sunday, 18 January 2015

LGBTQ - Segregation vs. Education

I've been wracking my brains for the last few hours about whether or not I ever received any kind of education with regards to sexuality or gender in school. To my knowledge, I'm going to go with a no. I remember being taught biological basics, of course, and I remember being taught that "gay men are not the only people at risk of HIV" and I remember one particularly procrastination filled English class discussing Marlon Brando's bisexuality - I got all the party lines, but I couldn't have told you anything worth knowing when I left school. How scary is that? I left school at eighteen and I couldn't have told you anything worth knowing about non-binary genders, my views on feminism or anything to do with sexuality. It's something I'm ashamed of now, but until I was eighteen LGBTQ meant nothing more to me than a pride parade once a year where we sometimes snuck in vodka, snickled at leaflets and collected free condoms and packets of lube - maybe a few lollipops if we were lucky. It wasn't until I called my own sexuality into question, found a passion for feminism and equality and got down to the nitty gritty with google, various authors, newspaper articles and heavily opinionated speakers that I learned anything past the bare bones of some of the most important issues facing young people everywhere, day in and day out.

So, when I read that Manchester has put forth funding towards opening a school primarily intended for those who are LGBTQ (for arguments sake let's assume that intersex and asexual individuals are also included in that umbrella term) and are struggling in mainstream school, it angered me beyond belief. The school is also open to those with mental health issues, young parents and also young carers and is set to be, "LGBT inclusive - but not exclusive". However, the fact is, schools are already available for people with mental health issues and those who are young parents - this isn't a flagship project for either of those reasons, it's gaining momentum and snowballing fast, mostly down to it's LGBTQ focus. And, don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits of such a school existing.

So, why am I angry? It's simple. £63,000 is a lot of money to throw at testing feasibility - literally just seeing if the project could work. It's a lot of money to put forward on a scheme that may fail, it's a lot of money that will turn into a lot more money if the scheme doesn't fail, it's a lot of money for around 60 students - it's a lot of money. I am sympathetic to bullying, I am. I faced it myself at times in my life, I saw it almost tear apart some of my family members - bullying is atrocious, it ruins lives, it ends lives - but pulling children who fall under the term of LGBTQ out of school and segregating them from society isn't going to solve that. Segregation never created understanding, and that's a fact. It creates a fear in a lack of understanding, it creates an "us vs. them" outlook - segregation does just that, segregates one set of people from another. The problem still exists, the bullying is still there, only now the two parties are being schooled separately.

So where does the money come into it? I'll reiterate; £63,000 is a lot of money. It can be used to test the feasibility of a school that will benefit 60 children at a time, it can be used to pretend a problem isn't there by removing the evidence of it - but that's simply like turning your TV over from the news and pretending that there are no wars happening in the world because you can't see them. There are over 24,000 schools in the UK, and creating one school to help 60 students isn't a responsible use of such huge amounts of money. Giving each of our existing schools £2000 each to start better teaching pupils about LGBTQ issues? That is. Pretending the ignorance isn't happening isn't solving a problem - what we need is not a new school wherein LGBTQ children and teens can feel safe, but rather we need them to feel safe in any school, in their own school. What we need is not a flagship programme, what we need is basic - better education.

What do you think about an LGBTQ school?

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Sexuality 2.0

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