Tag Archives: heterosexism

The Power of a Name

7 Jun

This week in Ontario, Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act) passed. This Bill addresses bullying and includes clear reference to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as types of bullying. Hooray! Naming is powerful in fighting oppression.

One of the aspects of the Bill that has received much attention is that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) will be able to be named as such in schools. As you may have read/heard about, this caused no shortage of debate and disagreement among some school boards, educators and religious leaders.

The bottom line is this: when we name something, we can address it.

A GSA is a club which, by design, helps to address homophobia, biphobia, transphobia (the fear and hatred of LGBTQ people, which can manifest as verbal and physical harassment – bullying – exclusion and physical harm including death) as well as heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that it is the only “normal” sexual orientation), and cis-normativity (the assumption that everyone is cisgender, and that maleness and femaleness is a binary). And the name suggests the mandate. It is a club where queer students and their allies can talk, strategize about how to make their schools safer, and support each other in these endeavours (as well as when incidents of the above occur). They are a safe space in a possibly otherwise hostile environment (in some cases) and a focal point for change even in accepting environments.

While a social justice club can, technically, do the same thing, if we can’t use the word “gay” in the club name, I wonder about the efficacy of dealing with homo/bi/transphobia in that setting – of naming the issues and dealing with them.

Naming something creates the space for it to exist. It validates it. And it’s the first step in addressing a problem because without a name, what are we really talking about?

See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion.



Coffee, anyone?

25 Oct

Seems like the Tim Hortons in Blenheim, Ontario will get more attention than they bargained for this coming Thursday…but not the right kind.

Last week a lesbian couple were asked to leave the premises because their public display of affection was upsetting the customers. The first thing that came to mind: They need some positive-space training.  I have a call to make.

Of course there is a he-said they-said going on about what they were doing, but that’s not what I want to write about today. What’s on my mind is the way we treat situations differently, depending on who is involved.

Does the young heterosexual couple sitting outside Tim Horton’s get a second glance from inside when they hold hands, have their arms around each other, or kiss? Maybe. Are they asked to leave, upon threat of calling the police? Er…hmmm. Seems excessive, doesn’t it? And yet, switch the couple and it’s what happened last week.

Things happen around us all the time. Some things stand out, others we don’t even notice. Was it the PDA or who was doing it that got the customer upset at Tim Horton’s? Was it the PDA, who was doing it, or who complained that caused the ill-advised reaction (“leave within 5 minutes or we’ll call the police”)? Or was it the person handling the complaint that went too far?

Sometimes when you are different, anything you do is seen differently. Cultivating awareness about the lens we are using to see (and judge) things and people is how we stop this, and create more equitable and inclusive spaces.

See more.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker & facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

%d bloggers like this: