Intersectional Dialogue while Combating LGBT-Phobia in Schools

Intersectional Dialogue while Combating LGBT-Phobia in Schools

Yago Vieira de Oliveira Almeida (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2209-6.ch002
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The presence of culture of violence in the school environment, manifested from the language, physical and social spheres is widely recognized by organizations, which has among its goals encouraging quality education to all, especially to young people. Therefore, LGBT bullying has gained a growing awareness by civil society, especially with regard to its negative outcomes to the formation of youth, forming a psychological and social legacy that has serious consequences for the establishment of a society ruled by the sustainable development principles. Therefore, this chapter aims to discuss possible mechanisms to combat LGBT-phobia, especially based on bullying, in order to create a culture of peace in schools. Criticizing, investigating, discussing and relativizing are crucial alternative methods in order to build a healthy school environment and potentially transformative.
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The presence of LGBT bullying in schools is a problem continually reproduced through interpersonal relations, either by children as supply agents to oppressive features embedded in a culture of hate, or even the teachers who are not prepared to deal with this issue. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students (LGBT) and those questioning their sexual orientation are often at great risk for negative outcomes like depression, suicidality, drug use, and school difficulty (Mufoz-Plaza, 2002).

The questioning of expressions of hatred in schools, a place that presumably provides an appropriate educational environment, expresses the need for consistent research on the negative outcomes experienced during the formation of youth, a key player in building a sustainable society. The systematic oppression perpetrated by children and adolescents in their full growth phase provides the naturalization of prejudice among citizens, both by those who practice it and those who suffer, resulting in psychological and social problems that revolve around the victim-blaming issue.

Incitement to hatred based on sex, race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity are some examples that can result in bullying. Bullying is not a new problem for schools, since it has been present for a long time. A research published at American Psychologist, a renowned scientific magazine, provides an overview based on 40 years of study, for example. This is not new. However, only in recent years its importance has been recognized. We speak of a specific phenomenon of school violence, which affects schools around the world regardless of national borders, geography or politics (Debarbieux, 2003). Defining bullying is no small task, especially if we seek a definition which is agreed on among researchers of the phenomenon. Nonetheless, despite the many proposed definitions, we can affirm that most share a common characteristic: bullying is identified as a specific conduct of aggressive behavior (Espelage & Swearer, 2003).

According to Johan Galtung, a great scholar of peace during the twentieth century, violence is not confined to the sphere of physical violence, but encompasses structural oppression that permeates verbal and moral abuse, usually played out in school environment. (Galtung, 1990) Although bullying can affect all learners, those viewed as different from the majority are most likely to be targeted. Learners whose sexuality is perceived to differ, or whose gender identity or behavior differs from their biological sex, are especially vulnerable. Bullying on the basis of perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is a specific type of bullying and is defined as LGBT bullying (UNESCO, 2012).

The constant projection of patriarchal symbolisms in collective meanings, allowed through the internalization of social norms, enables the creation of mechanisms of exclusion to citizens who are not perceived as compatible with societies’ supposed behavior patterns. We can usefully define patriarchy as a set of social relations between men and women, which have a material base, and which, though hierarchy, establish or create independence and solidarity among men that enable them to dominate women. (Jagger & Rosenberg, 1984). What many overlook is the fact that this same system also focuses on the relationship with the LGBT population, often affected by the masculinity patterns’ symptoms inserted on patriarchy. Expressing it simply, the development and assignment of characteristics thought to be intrinsic to the female sphere - such as sensitivity - to a boy, for example, leads to negative reactions from those who embody the oppressive logic made possible by the naturalization of the prejudice culture. Who can be regarded to be responsible for this? The parents? The school sector? Or the child itself? The existence of oppression remains exactly in the interdependence of multiple actors from a holistic perspective.

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