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Educational problems

Thu 7 Jun 2012 In: Comment View at NDHA

How will the government's current educational policy problems affect the welfare of LGBT students? Antigay and transphobic bullying are core issues that affect younger members of our communities. This bullying may result in physical injury, or more insidious, longer-term psychological damage. Not all secondary school students have access to LGBT student organisations like Rainbow Youth and Schools Out. Not all schools have detailed and systemic anti-bullying policies, beyond detention, suspension or expulsion. With reduced school staffing due to funding cutbacks, and larger class sizes, teachers may be decreasingly able to provide individualised pastoral care to students in need after experiencing antigay or transphobic schoolyard violence, verbal intimidation or other such activities. They may also be decreasingly able to provide early intervention to change perpetrators bullying behaviour, and in faith-based schools, there may be ideological barriers to LGBT students coming out and acknowledging that there is a problem and it isn't their 'fault,' lest they be penalised. Consequences for LGBT bullying abuse victims may include stunted educational attainment, early exit from school without academic or pre-vocational training qualifications, or at worst, self-harm or suicide. But what causes bullying? As with so many other social problems, abusive and dysfunctional parenting probably has most to do with creating behaviour and attitudes conducive to the emergence of bullying. Abusive, alcoholic, drug-addicted or otherwise dysfunctional senior family or whanau members create negative role models that encourage perpetrators to prefer aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse of others to negotiation, consensus seeking and compliance with the requests of school stakeholders. Unfortunately, given the Richardson/Shipley social service cuts of the nineties and harsher criminal justice policies since then, it is highly probable that these problems have accquired an intergenerational dimension. Furthermore, Key administration social service and voluntary organisation funding cuts are worsening the problem through the dogma of fiscal expediency, without regard for the long term consequences, present or future. In short, current government policies and priorities are placing LGBT youth at risk of low educational attainment, premature educational exit and blighted future employment prospects through their shortsightedness. Parents of LGBT school students, LGBT teachers, LGBT student support groups, straight allies and LGBT educational researchers need to get out there and make their voices heard. Recommended: Schools Out: Rainbow Youth: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: Outline and Gayline: Craig Young - 7th June 2012    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Thursday, 7th June 2012 - 9:51am

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