Stories of School LGBTQIA+ Education
To start this off, I am a uni student. I am a straight, 20-year-old woman, an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, and an avid supporter of equality. Around me I have friends, family, and work colleagues who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, so it’s easy to say I have learnt a lot and my education continues to grow.
Primary school; we never learnt about any of that. It wasn’t even approached. Apart from me having two male hairdressers who were in love: I got told that “they love each other very dearly like mummy and daddy do” and I thought nothing of it. They were just two guys who loved each other. Then we got to Year 5. My teacher was gay. He was the most amazing teacher ever: he rode a motorbike, was enthusiastic when teaching, and the most understanding of teachers. But he had only taught younger kids until that year… my year. I remember one day my teacher left the classroom in tears because of some of the people in my class. They had been teasing him for being gay. Year 5 boys, being hurtful and mean to their teacher just for being gay. It was frightening to see, and heart breaking. I couldn’t help but feel awful and disgusted that these were kids that I knew, and was in class with. He said at the end of the year, “I’m never teaching anyone other than kindergarteners after this year.” Our class ruined older primary school students for him…
High school was an interesting experience. Finishing high school before the panorama (pandemic) was different to now! But we went to school, we learnt PE, and finished school. Do you know something that I don’t remember? Learning about different sexualities, different ways people identify, what LGBTQIA+ means. We learnt nothing of the sort. It was simple: there are males and females, and their genitalia. People can be gay sometimes. This is how you have safe sex.
Now, that was good and all. Except for when we were forced to turn to the internet alone to find out what we needed about sexuality, gender, and diverse experiences. Not our school teachers – the ones that were bringing us up into the world and preparing us for life – yeah no, there was nothing of the sort. It was even worse when there was a polyamorous couple in our year who were bullied tremendously because they were different. No one had ever seen that sort of relationship represented in school before. People were highly confused and very set on their views, which were often nasty and degrading.
That was a few years ago.
So I’m out of high school now, a big uni girl, and I’ve learnt so much about everything! Pronouns, being more respectful, how to ask questions about certain topics, and, no matter what, do not judge. I was never judgemental, but I was previously in a friend group of very judgemental people. Moving outside of them, and doing my own research, made me open my eyes to being kind and respectful.
But it seems like the school system has stayed the same. My boyfriend has a little sister who I’ve known for half her life now! I’ve watched her grow and develop into a lovely young woman who knows who she is and what she stands for. About six months to a year ago she came out as bisexual to her family, and they took it amazingly.
She goes to the same school that I went to and has “beef” with the PE department. Most afternoons she gets back from school and tells us about her day, usually an update on the PE fiasco. It started when they were given the task to record their BMI, weigh themselves for three days, and record their caloric intake to see if they were ‘getting bigger or smaller’! Year 9’s, this was given to. Then, the teacher told her that girls ‘need to be skinny’. That was just the start of the downfall. It continued. Her class was given information about the LGBTQIA+ community in the form of statistics, which outlined that if you’re anything but straight you’re more likely to be reckless, a drug addict, and mentally unstable?! Without context, this implied that “if you’re anything but straight, you’re doomed,” basically.
Learning about this was heart-breaking. The school tried to bring in LGBTQIA+ community education and went in the total wrong direction – to the point that my boyfriend’s sister has been speaking to the PE department and principal about the misinformation and misguidance in the education she is receiving.
I hope that her, her generation, as well as the generations before and after her, actually help out and make the schools change their education practices and teach students about LGBTQIA+ identities.
I would like to leave on a nice note by stating that my Year 5 teacher married the love of his life and became the first Australian gay couple to marry. Pride!
Hey! My name is Ivy-Rose! I’m the student life columnist and contributor for the Opus mag! I love writing about life as a student, the societal expectations, and experiences that help us grow and shape us to who we are today – as individuals and a collective! When I’m not contributing to Opus, I’m helping out local charity organisations SHIBUI Services and What Were You Wearing as well as creating content!