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Author Topic: Tolerance Club
moonlight bouncing off water
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I'm very excited because the first meeting of my school's brand new tolerance club was today and the vibe in the room was very warm and welcoming. We're still figuring out what exactly we want the club to accomplish, but it's basically a safe space in the school for everyone and anyone. There are GSA elements of the club and a focus is for sure on combating homophobia but just as big a focus one combating other forms of prejudice.

An idea for getting the word out about the club at our school is during an assembly, one person will be speaking to the audience about the club and will give us a key word after which we are all supposed to get up and say "I'm fill-in-the-blank". So stuff like "I was bullied" or "I'm gay" etc. This is supposed to take the other students by surprise and the we're all supposed to walk up on stage and talk about the club. I told the others in the club that I probably wouldn't feel comfortable doing that, but I kind of want to. See what I would say is that "I'm bisexual" or "I'm queer". But I don't really know how safe I would feel doing that surrounded by 300 students when less than 20 of them were doing the same. It's a really scary prospect and I don't know if I should do it. At the same time, I really want to and I want to be out about my sexuality (I mentioned it when speaking on a microphone in front of a tenth of the school last year, so I don't see why I am having a problem with it now).

I guess what I'm asking is, does it seem like this is an emotionally safe thing to do? Is it a good idea? What are your guy's thoughts. The assembly is on Wednesday so I would appreciate some feedback before then if possible.

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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Hi, moonlight. This sounds like a cool club!

I wonder if it would help to do things like list your reasons for doing it, for not doing it, how you think you might feel if you do or don't do it, what you think is likely to happen if you do and don't do it, your best- and worst-case scenarios, and how likely they might be? Would it help, too, to identify what it is exactly that's scary about it? Sometimes something is scary for a very real reason, and sometimes it's more that it's something that's a big step and matters very much to us.

How queer-friendly is your school generally, in the general atmosphere, the students, the staff, and in official support from the administration and decision-makers (eg, not shutting queer people up, and supporting them if/when a homophobic comment is made)?

It might help to remember, too, that this kind of declaration isn't a one-chance-only thing. If this doesn't feel right to you, or you don't do it for any reason, there will be other times and ways you can declare your orientation. There's no pressure with this, it's purely about whether this method and circumstance seems a good choice for you. If it does, you can grab it out of free choice, and if it doesn't, you can pass it up without regret.

One thing that I think I'm hearing from what you write above is that you want to be out about your orientation, but you're not sure if this is the right method for you or one you feel comfortable with. Does that sound anything like what you're thinking?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
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Hey Redskies, thanks for your reply!

I think it seems scary because I'm not quite sure how supportive my school would be and I am a bit afraid of homophobic backlash. Our school is in a rural area and has far too many people who use their religion as an excuse for intolerance, but at the same time our school is accepting enough that sexual orientation is listed in the code of conduct as one of the things that one must respect people regardless of.

Turns out that the people who all thought this was a good idea before though don't want to do it themselves as they believe their voices aren't loud enough, so I have made up my mind that I won't be one of a very small handful of people doing this, that would just be kind of rediculous to me.


I have something else I've been thinking about though: while in theory I like the idea of living without labels and of not coming out to every person that one meets, I feel like I've hidden my sexual orientation from the group.

Some of them know because they are part of that one tenth of the school I mentioned it in front of, so I guess it's not like they all think I'm straight, but I just feel like I've built my own mini-closet in that group and I want to get out of it without making a big deal of it. See, we were introducing ourselves and saying why we wanted to be a part of the club and one other person said that they are bisexual and so they want to help eliminate homophobia, etc. And I didn't. I didn't lie, my answer to that was true, but vague and one of the major reasons I joined the group is that I am queer and I get how incredibly difficult it is to be gay at my school, how oppressive it can feel and how it is not even taken into consideration that perhaps one person in the school could possibly be anything but cisgender and heterosexual.

So I guess what I'm asking is how can I prevent this omission from growing into a closet?

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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You're welcome, moonlight [Smile] I'm glad you've found your answer about what you want to do.

I, too, still feel very knotty about the second thing you're asking. I'm not sure I have any answers - maybe other folk do?

Sometimes I think that the concept of a closet doesn't work very well for bi/pan/queer folk, because it seems a bit binary based. Maybe it doesn't work all that well for lesbian/gay folk, either. I think that the problem is that people shouldn't make assumptions about others' orientation. We shouldn't be "straight unless declared otherwise". But still, it's queer folk who end up with the practical problem. I often feel like I'm stuck in a closet when people assume me straight, but then I think, hold on, What closet, it's not like I'm pretending anything! My principles still lie very much with "no-one's orientation is anyone's business, and people shouldn't assume", but I'm feeling more and more that practically, this approach doesn't work too well. Like we end up stuck in a closet that other people made and put us in.

In terms of your options, I think it partly depends on how the group runs. If it's a group where you regularly talk about why you're all there and what you want to achieve, it's fairly likely that an occasion will come up pretty soon where it just feels natural to you to bring it up. Or perhaps the group talks about the groups of students who may be marginalised and need support or advocacy, and if you talk about queer people you could clearly but without fan-fare self-include? Another option is perhaps to show up with some identity marker, like a bi-pride or rainbow pin? That can make our identity present but without a big announcement.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
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I agree with everything you said and it does make me feel better to think about it as other people putting up the closet, not me. And yeah I don't really love the closet metaphor but it is how it feels right now.

As per a rainbow pin or something similar I don't have anything like that, or know where to get it but it is a good idea.

It's frustrating that I want people to understand where I'm coming from when I talk about being marginalized, feeling the effects of prejudice and that homophobia and biphobia and invisibility because they really, really resonate with me because I have experienced their effects. And as you said I don't want to include myself with fanfare, but at the same time I'm afraid that if I don't people may miss what I'm getting at.

Sigh. I don't think that there is an answer as to how to go about this. I think, though, before I invest too much energy in hypotheticals, I just need to wait until next week to see what the meeting is like.

[ 10-30-2012, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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I think that waiting to see how it pans out, rather than stressing massively right now, sounds an excellent idea.

For the rest of it: yep. So much yes.

If you were interested in pins and whatnot, there are usually a variety of things available on the internet, fairly cheaply. I wouldn't know what companies/sites to suggest for Canada; honestly, I just googled - started with "rainbow bracelet", "rainbow earrings" and went from there, really - and wandered around a few links, and checked the companies' security/privacy/returns/customer service policies. (I have to say, I'm particularly fond of my "Your fence is sitting on me" badge [Smile] )

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
Peer Ambassador
Member # 44338

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quote:
Originally posted by Redskies:
I have to say, I'm particularly fond of my "Your fence is sitting on me" badge [Smile]

That sounds like an awesome pin and has a very funny mental image.

Well that assembly is today, and it turns out no one is doing the stand up and say I'm something-or-other thing anyway. I shall see how the assembly goes.

[ 10-31-2012, 06:13 AM: Message edited by: moonlight bouncing off water ]

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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