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[00:00:00] This recording was made at the second the Asia Pacific Outgames human rights conference, held in Wellington, New Zealand in March 2011. [00:00:08] I'm into like, hang, I'm from Wellington. And at the conference as part of my Union, the PPT I am a secondary school teacher. And I've been given employment related educational leave to attend, which is a great thing. So this, the this conference here is part of that at the Human Rights conference as part of the app games as also part of the is the asset work of the conference, if combined it [00:00:34] Yeah. Can you describe for me the kind of current state of queer and gender issues and secondary schools in New Zealand [00:00:46] and I think that it's a really hard job for young people to Who are you know, who are at that age where they're coming to grips with the sexuality and so of all kinds and so it's but it's extra hard for young girl is being able to have the confidence to come out at school feel like they've got the support of of teachers and other students. Gay is a really common put down in schools. It's synonymous with stupid or dumb, why, and that's a really had weird to be bandied about. So I think that that for one makes it quite hard. I think that I'm a very lucky I work in a school, which has really gay friendly, and it's not just the gay teachers who pull up kids for using homophobic language, but we have a staff we have straight, straight teachers will will do that as well. But I know that that's not the same and all secondary schools. Yeah. [00:01:42] So we do you think that the word gay as a put down came from when did that kind of come into existence? [00:01:47] I'm not really sure. I mean, young people's language changes really fast. And it's hard is an odd to keep up with it. I don't know where it became synonymous, but kids have the same that doesn't mean homosexual anymore. So it doesn't have that connotation. But it's really important for gay and lesbian teachers in straight cases to explain that, that weird echoes, and it doesn't mean that and that's what some people claim is their identity. So it's extremely painful. And I try and talk to kids about it. I say, well, it's like saying, a year if I can reteach, you know, it's some people's identity, it's still end there. Although they might not think that there's any one guy in the class. Valentina is a statistic and maybe it's a sister auntie and uncle or cousin a neighbor and next door really painful weird for young elephant for anybody to hear as a as a pop down. [00:02:44] So what words do they use to describe homosexuals? [00:02:48] puffed Vega? Um, boy? Yeah, I mean, it's not. And I'd say that, um, I think that homophobic words against me know probably prevalent, I think lesbians, and more invisible or less threatening or something like that. So, yeah, there's lots of ways I'm dead. I'm 3038. I can't keep up with kids language all the time. [00:03:14] Now, you're saying that your school is quite gay friendly? How does that play out is that in terms of teaching, or just teachers pulling up kids for using things like the word gay? [00:03:25] Yep. And it's not in terms of teaching. And that's one thing that I've been thinking quite a lot about at this conference. I've talked to people, older people who we've talked about our histories, and the way in which out young, gay and lesbian people were unaware of their histories, teachers at my school, I spoke to a young man and said, you know, that was really painful for some people, because Did you know that it was illegal to be gay and New Zealand until the mid 1980s. And students don't know that. And I was recounting the story to a young staff member in the staff room, and they didn't know either. So I ever since that lots of our history is is not being told to our young people. And one of the notes I wrote myself yesterday was, I'm going to approach the Social Studies Department and ask them [00:04:11] to do [00:04:13] a unit ask them if they could create a unit of work, and I guess it doesn't, if they don't feel comfortable with it, you know, this is the social days we can get gay and lesbian people but about reform or about minority or about something we are we still getting our history told, because I think I really feel like that we're losing that a little bit for our young people. [00:04:33] So in your school environment at the moment, is gender or Queer Studies taught in any area of the curriculum? Not? Not. [00:04:43] So I'm an English teacher. So I guess I have an opportunity to present poets and artists who, and I make a point of saying, you know, this person was gay. But no, no, we're not. [00:04:55] No, we're not even in the health for [00:04:57] Oh, ok. So the health curriculum. Yep. So this sexuality education as part of x? Yeah. But I think that's putting it away somewhere and saying this. Yeah. And it needs I want it to be everywhere, you know, why shouldn't it permeate through all of our curriculum? And I think it otherwise it puts it in a box. This is just to do with six, and it isn't just another six. [00:05:22] So do you have any students? [00:05:25] Yes, we've had two, two boys. on two separate years, he took male partners to the ball. So that was pretty exciting. We, most of the all of the teachers that's go out. I spent quite a lot of time supporting a young woman last year who was in the process of coming out. But we don't we don't have any kind of rainbow nickel out of school group or anything like that. That Yeah, yeah, there are. Yep. [00:05:57] What was your reaction to the the guys taking the boyfriends to the ball? [00:06:02] It was pretty low key. And I think that's really fantastic. I think I mean, the game has been taped as a really excited, we were more excited than ever announced for of late. But um, yeah, there wasn't there wasn't a negative response at all, as far as as far as I could work it out. [00:06:15] Yeah. Have you seen a change in student reactions over the time that you've been teaching in terms of how they deal with queer or gender issues. [00:06:23] And this is my 16th year of teaching, I started teaching in us a small secondary school in a small town. And I didn't have apart from that homophobic stuff. I didn't have any sense of any positivity around that at school. But I think that the, at the same time as the language still being quite nice if there is a quite a bit more of an acceptance a bit more of a, a, or whatever kind of attitude. So I don't think so. Yeah. [00:06:54] Do you have any other examples of things that have happened at your school to do with gender or sexuality [00:07:01] in terms of staff, and every year, we there's a professional development session on harassment and bullying in school, and we quite often co ops there into something about homophobia. So our staff, well used to having at least one afternoon a week, we're a year sorry, we're we raised that we raised the issue and move points and things out. It's a it's a really comfortable school for me just to be who I am. We have family dinners with all the gay and lesbian stuff. Go to the deputy principals house on see you for dinner. So yeah, [00:07:40] so any, is there any homophobia within the teaching staff itself? [00:07:44] Not that I'm aware of at my school? Nope. But I've experienced it at other schools. Yeah, I taught in an all boys so you can just go for a while. And that was horrendous. That was really awful. [00:07:56] Yeah. Could you give me some examples? [00:08:00] teachers would use those slurs towards kids, and no one would pull them up on it. [00:08:09] Yeah, it was hard. It was hard. [00:08:11] So how do you change them? Oh, [00:08:16] I'm, I'm active and out. And so I think that as an athlete, being in the staff room, I was, and I'm pretty open about talking about stuff. So I think that in terms of trying to trying to change the staffs mind, I answered any ridiculous question they wanted to ask me, you know, what does being student be that kind of really, you know, an imaginative stuff. But in terms of getting it out there for for the boys. It's a massive cultural structural mindset shift that one woman couldn't take on. [00:08:54] Can you talk a wee bit about your current school? And just the whole idea of visibility? Why is that important? I guess [00:09:03] what the way my school [00:09:08] manages it isn't kind of in it. arson proud and shouty kind of way. It's just a quiet, kind of low key. You know, we all deal with this when it comes up. homophobic language isn't tolerated and NASSCO that in the sense of we don't have there's no sense of kind of celebration or Yeah, I really like the kind of just the ordinariness of it. I think that that's, I see that as a kind of a movement and movement along a spectrum that we've [00:09:43] got to and it's it's kind of nice. [00:09:48] So this conference, what do you what would you want to take out of it? [00:09:53] I've taken out of it, lots of personal stuff around stuff that I didn't know around trends, people I've taken out of it, that I want to, I want to go and do some talking to people in departments, let's go and try and get more gay lesbian talk across the curriculum. I want to think about our collective agreement and what their offers in terms of chains, chains, people that were that was a really big kind of learning thing for me, it wasn't something I'd come across or you know, had an experience of and so that was a big piece of piece of learning. I feel fucking lucky that I live here, you know, because some people's lives and other parts of the world are really shit and other schools here and other schools are really shit. And I felt really lucky. [00:10:42] If someone was listening to this in 50 years time, and you had to say something to them? What would that be? [00:10:49] I think it I think it is about knowing your history and being grateful and proud of the hard work that those who have come before you've done and I feel that I mean, in 2011 I've got lots and lots of people to be really thankful for that I can be as out and as confident in my school as I can be and in my world and my life as I can be. And I'm ya know, your history, I know the hard slog that was done for for you on your behalf so that you can be as at and proud and who you want to be. [00:11:22] What do you think the biggest issues facing queer and gender communities in New Zealand? [00:11:28] Um, and this is kind of personal or Yeah, kind of my own experience I think I've been thinking quite a lot about we know I came out and Palmerston North, which is a small town in the in the bottom of the North Island and we we had quite a big a strong kind of group there and we ran our own nightclub. And we struggled with the effects this that our young people in the community didn't need us as much anymore they could go strip clubs and they thought okay, there's I think maybe for for us older ones, letting that happen and accepting that and not facing it and doing what's what the young people want us to do rather than what we needed or what we think they should do. So we need to chill and relax and and move with we are young people are going and do what listen to them. Ask them what they want from us our days in yeah and do what they need.
This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.