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Full Interview with CL.M.HHS

Amophrast's picture

This is the full text of the interview I conducted via Skype chat with a gay, male-identifying freshman at Haverford High School.

I think the questions flow a bit more smoothly than the first interview

[3:52:02 PM] Amophrast: okay, going to start with my official intro message

[3:54:07 PM] Amophrast: Feel free to talk openly and freely about yourself and your experiences. This information will be published on Serendip, a website that is publicly accessible, but at this point or any point in the future you can choose an alias to go by or request that certain information or excerpts is/are made private. If you do not specify a particular alias, you will be assigned one based on your name, preferred gender (hypen will be used if preferred gender is none), and school. Example, C.F.HHS

[3:54:25 PM] Amophrast: do you have any questions?

[3:54:56 PM] CL.M.HHS: not right now

[3:55:06 PM] Amophrast: alright

[3:56:40 PM] Amophrast: How do you perceive of the environment at Haverford High School?

think of it as kind of a campus climate report, and in terms of LGBTQ issues/individuals. For example, comments on bullying, freedom of gender expression, availability of safe spaces, other issues revolving around LGBTQ youth or individuals involved with LGBTQ issues

[3:58:39 PM] CL.M.HHS: I honestly think that HHS is one of the better schools when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ community. I'm gay myself, and I feel really comfortable being in the school's environment. All of my friends are completely cool with LGBTQ people, and I never see anyone harassing anyone because of their identity or any real signs of homophobia.

[3:59:35 PM] CL.M.HHS: There are always a few people who aren't the most gay-friendly people ever, but if you look at HHS in its entirenty, it's a pretty safe, accepting please.

[3:59:36 PM] CL.M.HHS: place*

[4:00:22 PM] Amophrast: have you witnessed or experience bullying that is targeted towards queer individuals or appropriating slang to non-queer individuals and objects? (i.e. that's so gay, etc)

[4:03:02 PM] CL.M.HHS: well yeah, I've definitely heard that kind of slang in school, but I don't really see it as the most threatening thing ever. I'm sure other people would be much more offended when hearing someone say something like "that's so gay", but I think that's about as far as that kind of language goes in this school. I do get a little uncomfortable when people use words like "faggot" or "queer" meant in a derogatory manner, and I think those words are definitely pushing it, and I do hear those words occasionally.

[4:04:00 PM] CL.M.HHS: And as for bullying, I don't think anyone has the audacity in this school to harass someone for being identified as queer.

[4:05:32 PM] Amophrast: Do you ever see people react to this kind of talk? Either silently, or talking back to the individuals, or talking to others against it?

When you say you don't think anyone has the "audacity" do you mean it's because of the kind of harsh reaction they would get? (that it would seem out of line, they'd get called out on it, etc)

[4:07:57 PM] CL.M.HHS: People only really say those kinds of words among their friends, so it's not like their friends who are also used to saying that kind of stuff are going to react in an offended way. It definitely sticks out to me when someone says "faggot", but I usually wouldn't react to something like that unless it was being used to directly harass someone.

[4:10:04 PM] CL.M.HHS: And when I say that people don't have the "audacity" to use such language frequently, I mean that a lot of people in HHS are really open-minded and, yes, would definitely react as if offended. They know that those aren't acceptable words in such a public and open setting, and I think they would call out on it.

[4:10:33 PM] Amophrast: what do you see as the role of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in HHS?

[4:12:42 PM] CL.M.HHS: I know this sounds a little funny, but I think that one of the reasons that the GSA exists in our school is to prove that it can exist. When students or parents know that there's a GSA in the high school, they automatically see the school as an unprejudiced and accepting school. The same goes for other clubs like the Asian Awareness Club or Best Buddies.

[4:14:40 PM] CL.M.HHS: The GSA also helps students to become more educated about the LGBT community. Every week, we share "gay" news, which is just news relating to the LGBT community or similar topics. The GSA also helps to join people together, both gay and straight, hence the title "Gay-Straight Alliance".

[4:15:57 PM] Amophrast: So would you say that visibility, awareness, and education are the main goals of the GSA?

[4:16:14 PM] CL.M.HHS: Yeah, I guess that sums it up.

[4:16:47 PM] Amophrast: Is there any work or activism that you wish was being done at HHS?

[4:18:04 PM] CL.M.HHS: Not really. I think that for now, the GSA is enough. I don't really think about it either, really.

[4:19:34 PM] Amophrast: For you, what is the most effective form of advertising or encouragement to acknowledge the sorts of issues you mentioned? (gay news, education, etc) Statistics? Anecdotes? Posters? Or should it remain within the meetings of the GSA?

[4:24:11 PM] CL.M.HHS: I think it should be advertised or be encouraged to acknowledged just as much as any other issues out there, like AIDS, breast cancer, etc. I don't see the point of giving more attention to awareness of diseases that rarely affect the high school population than to a topic that would affect about 10% of the high school population. Just in general, things like statistics affect or view of the LGBT community, and anecdotes definitely draw our attention to real-life situations. And overall, encouraging people to be educated about the LGBT community gives people a voice who are gay, bi, transgender, etc.

[4:26:14 PM] Amophrast: Do you feel that you have had access to sufficient resources regarding gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, etc? And have these resources been through the GSA or on your own, the internet, etc?

[4:26:33 PM] Amophrast: This can also apply if you have heard others wondering where to find such information and so on

[4:29:22 PM] CL.M.HHS: Well, the internet is always a powerful tool, and there's such much you can learn just by typing something in google or watching a youtube clip. One of the reasons I'm so comfortable with being gay is knowing that there are others just like me, even in my own school who are just as comfortable with who they are. I also hear about people who have it a lot worse because their friends or family didn't accept who they are. I get some of this information from the GSA, but most of it I found out just on my own.

[4:30:11 PM] Amophrast: If you could implement or request any specific programs or workshops at HHS, what would they be?

[4:30:40 PM] CL.M.HHS: that are related to LGBT stuff?

[4:31:37 PM] Amophrast: yes, or if there are others feel free to comment on them

[4:35:40 PM] CL.M.HHS: Once again, I think it's already great that HHS has a GSA, and there, everything revolves around LGBT topics and issues. But I think that LGBT topics should definitely be talked about in health class. I haven't taken a high school health course yet, but the classes already cover fitness, relationships, drugs, STDs, etc. Why not throw some gay education into there? I was surprised when my 8th grade health class didn't talk about it, so I would definitely expect it to be at least somewhat talked about in high school.

[4:37:58 PM] Amophrast: what kinds of specific issues do you think should be addressed? sexual orientation (encompassing asexuality, trans*, fluidity, etc)? safety (HIV, testing, dental dams, etc)?

[4:38:40 PM] Amophrast: Practical information? (i do not recall if the sex-education is abstinence only or not)

[4:43:40 PM] CL.M.HHS: Well, part of health class is sex ed, and if what's talked about in class relates to only straight people, where do gay or bi people get their sex education? It also makes gay or bi individuals feel left out of the curriculum. Also, there are probably people in school who are confused about their sexual orientation or aren't completely comfortable with it. Not discussing gay topics in health class (or any class for that matter) would only make them feel less comfortable with their identity.

[4:45:26 PM] CL.M.HHS: I also think that transgender people or people who don't identity with one of the two genders are just starting to be acknowledged by society. Why not talk about them? In 8th grade, I think our teacher did talk about hermaphrodites, because they were biologically a mix of the two sexes, but she didn't really seem to talk about transgenders (or whatever term is more appropriate).

[4:46:51 PM] Amophrast: do you think HHS is different from the middle school in terms of queer issues?

[4:50:10 PM] CL.M.HHS: The main difference is just the fact that people in HHS are older and more mature. I think that in 7th or 8th grade, kids start to really think about gay people in a more serious way, and definitely what it really means to be gay, straight, or bi. By the time they're in high school, they treat queer issues like any other important issue (except for those few kids who haven't really accepted the LGBT community).

[4:50:51 PM] CL.M.HHS: Overall, maybe kids in HMS are just a litlte too young to think about queer issues in the way that high schoolers would.

[4:53:28 PM] Amophrast: do you think the more comprehensive sex-ed/health classes and discussions you suggested should start in middle school or high school? Or only to specific age groups? (ex, 8th graders but not 6th and 7th graders)

[4:56:31 PM] CL.M.HHS: Some of the people in our GSA actually thought about starting gay education in middle school. I partially agreed with this, but 6th grade is definitely way too young to formally expose kids to these kinds of subjects. How could you expect them to take that kind of stuff maturely? 7th grade seems kind of on the fence to me, but 8th grade for sure is old enough. If they're mature enough to learn about the male and female reproduction systems, they should be mature enough learn about queer issues.