Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homophobia as a Punishment?

So this was going around Tumblr today:
[Image description: two older teen boys sitting in chairs holding hands and covering their faces in shame with the other hand. Other teens stand around, staring, laughing, and/or on their phones. Caption reads: "These two guys at my school got into a fight after 1st hour and they were either to get suspended for 9 days or sit in the school courtyard holding hands all day during class. You can see what they decided."]

While Buzzfeed is selling this as the way to "achieve world peace," I'm not so sure that this is a positive thing. One of the people I follow, riotrite, explained how this actually displays homophobia. He said,
Do you think the people standing around them weren’t calling them faggots the whole day? What do you think a young queer person would think walking past that? Because what I would think is “my school thinks being publicly humiliated for holding another boy’s hand is an appropriate and hilarious punishment, and that means they do not give the tiniest of shits about me.”
I couldn't agree more. This isn't just a cute little punishment, it's sending a message of shame and ridicule surrounding two guys holding hands. It's made that act a punishment. I remember a few teachers in high school who would joke about using this punishment on field trips. When boys were acting out, they would threaten to make them hold hands with their buddy. But seeing as that was 10+ years ago, I had really hope that things would change...apparently they haven't.

This might be a good time to plug one of my favorite nonprofits, GLSEN, because they are an organizaiotn working to make things better for queer students. As they say at their site, GLSEN "strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression." And by the way, between now and Saturday, they are up to for voting to possibly win $1M from the Chase Giving Community. Check them out, and if you get a chance, vote for them!

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