Friday, June 09, 2006

The LibDems vs. Homophobic Bullying

The fairly mainstream Liberal Democratic party of the United Kingdom launched an online petition as part of a coordinated campaign to stop homophobic bullying:

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary, Sarah Teather MP said:

"Our petition is calling for all schools to develop measures to tackle homophobic bullying. Taunts and name calling should be challenged immediately so that it’s clear such behaviour won’t be tolerated.

"Liberal Democrats are concerned about all aspects of bullying but are focusing the spotlight on homophobic abuse because it’s currently harder to monitor and stop..."

Liberal Democrat Higher and Further Education Spokesperson, Stephen Williams MP who organised the Education and Skill Select Committee's first ever session on bullying, added...

"If a pupil is bullied because of race, looks or a disability they are likely to at least have supportive parents. This is often not the case for young gay people and it is difficult for them to know which teacher they can confide in.

"Putting a duty on schools will ensure there is someone for the young person to turn to and will send out a message that homophobic abuse should be treated with the same zero tolerance as racist abuse. Schools should be safe places of learning for all children irrespective of their sexuality."

I'm posting this as a follow-up to my June 1 post (and the discussion it provoked) on bullying and raising boys.

I confess that as an American, with all my cultural biases, and even with my politics, I find it amusing that a national political party thinks it can legislate against bullying - on the other hand, it's good that they're doing something. No idea about the context or if this petition will have any traction in the U.K., but my God, here in the USA we're debating a fucking amendment to the Constitution that would explicitly forbid people of the same biological sex from getting married.

Our entire country is run by homophobic bullies!


Anonymous said...

that's for sure. There's even a right wing group, "Concerned Women for America" who have post an alert for right wingers. They have a checklist, a School Risk Audit to see if your child's school is a "conduit for homosexual activism."

Among the things to look for that would indicate this include:

An anti-harassment, anti-bullying or “safe schools” policy that includes thecategory “sexual orientation.”

Programs on tolerance, diversity, “hate” or “bias”

Political science/ history/civics classes on current issues

We can't have kids learning that it's wrong to beat up faggots and sissies now, can we. That's the slippery slope towards forcing first graders into gay bathhouses...

Anyway, I think the point of the LibDem initiative in the UK is not that they think passing a law will itself stop bullying, but rather it provides a way for the government to ensure funding and official support for anti-bullying programs in the schools themselves. Remember, the UK schools are very much centralized, unlike the US system.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're sharing craziness, I just read this gem in Dear Abby -- so happy to report that Abby says the right thing to her millions of readers:

Dear Abby: I have reason to believe that a young many in my family may be gay. (He is 15.) I have been thinking about it lately, and have been wondering if circumcision would cure it. What do you think?

Dear Missouri Grandmother: Homosexuality is not an illness, and therefore there is no need for a 'cure.' I predict that your family will be happier if you accept your relative the way he is, love him, support him, and stop trying to think of ways to cure him.

P.S. Circumcision is a sacred rite of the Jewish religion. If your theory were valid, then there would be no Jewish homosexuals. And yet, among the succesful, gay, Jewish men who are 'out' are Harvey Fierstein, Michael Feinstein, Barney Frank and David Geffen --- to name a few.

End quote. I wonder where Granny got the circumcision thing? Probably in appendix of the Concerned Women for America School Risk Audit!

Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe the Liberal Democratic Party can introduce legislation to Parliament that is designed to tackle homophobic bullying by the US Congress and White House....

Anonymous said...

The current administration would just ignore such a measure. Why would they care what a bunch of foreigners think?

Anonymous said...

i remember about a year or so before columbine the bbc world service reported on a case where a young south asian british schoolboy (12 yo) committed suicide. his suicide note blamed constant, violent racial bullying for his despair. within a couple of months, the UK had instituted racial sensitivity training in all public schools.

around the same time (give or take a few months) a man walked into a school with a rifle and killed several students, the first such incident in UK history. within two months, and despite virulent protests by hunters, the UK had passed a wide-ranging ban on private gun possession.

i have no idea how effective these measures were on a practical level, but their immediacy, and the fact that they were national initiatives undertaken by parliament, sent a loud and clear message, that contrasted especially painfully with the us gov't's non-response to columbine soon after.

i realize that the us is not the uk. i realize that our polity is vastly different. but how can we expect our politicians (our ceo's, even our man on the street) to behave as anything but bullies when our national culture not only tolerates, but condones bullying and rampant violence?

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Amen to that, Claire!

I stand chastened by Chip and Claire about the potential efficacy of the LibDems' petition.

veffari said...

Well, one big root of this problem is a barbaric media content. My opinion after 23 yrs in Gods country. There needs to be a wake-up call for a softer, gentler more intelligent media content, perhaps it has already been replaced by the internet (until prejudist vulgarity takes it over). I only know of 4 good radio stations in the entire country!