Former Teacher Gives Seminars To Help End Homophobia In Schools; Shares Her Story Of Being Openly Lesbian

July 20, 2009

[St John's Newfoundland, Canada] Susan Rose experienced plenty of discrimination in junior high school. After all, she was a gay teacher. And after quitting her job in 2006 because of the negativity she experienced, she says she realized the gay kids in school were probably also having a tough time - but they didn't have the option of leaving. National statistics show that 75 per cent of lesbian, gay or bi-sexual kids feel unsafe at school, while 95 per cent of transgender youth say the same. "How many adults in the workplace would go to work if they felt unsafe in the work environment? None of us would," Rose says. Rose is working with advocacy and human rights group EGALE (Equality For Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) on a survey of youth in this province about homophobia in schools. And while Rose had been lobbying for gay rights issues for years prior to coming out to her colleagues, she says, she wanted to get involved with the education committee at EGALE. "Adults have the right to marry in Canadian society, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered) adults have the right to be out in their workplace, to be out at their places of worship. Yet the school system, in many school boards across Canada, you're not allowed to discuss homosexuality. And if homosexuality is brought up by the student, that student is referred to the guidance councillor." Rose has heard about students being beaten, spit on and mistreated in schools in this province. She even tells the story about one gay boy who had to sit through a class where the teacher would tell homophobic jokes. "One guidance councillor said to me, 'Well there's none here, but you can do your presentation anyway,'" Rose says of her west coast seminar tour She says the councillor did admit her ignorance later, after realizing there were several LGBT students in her school.

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