Lesbian mums hurt by use of school children saying ‘that’s so gay’
LESBIAN mothers and their children are experiencing discrimination in Adelaide schools, prompting a researcher to call for a crackdown on the use of the term “that’s so gay” by students.
Flinders University social work researcher Dr Damien Riggs surveyed 23 lesbian mothers, parenting 85 children between them, and found a significant number felt they had been excluded by their child’s school at some point because of their sexual orientation.
Dr Riggs also found children frequently used the word “gay” as a negative descriptor and teachers did not always consider it an issue that required attention.
“The term ‘that’s so gay’ really needs to be cracked down on in schools,” Dr Riggs said.
“Young people use the expression all the time without realising the impact of their words.”
Dr Riggs said the findings highlighted the need for more teacher training about homophobia and discrimination and a more concerted effort by the Education Department to use the school curriculum to recognise a range of family forms.
“These things aren’t particularly hard to implement but they are very meaningful to this population of mothers and their children,” he said.
The research also found:
LESBIAN mothers felt pressure to come out, often to correct misconceptions such as when other parents assumed the two women were sisters.
OTHER parents often asked lesbian mothers ‘which one are you’, even if the family had been at the school for years, indicating those mothers were still seen as belonging to the `lesbian category’ instead of as individual parents.
MALE children of lesbian parents were more likely to feel stigmatised than girls.
FAMILIES at more privileged schools were less likely to experience discrimination.
SCHOOLS address discrimination through classes or assemblies but these discussions often are not directly connected to sexual discrimination.