Well no, I'm nothing *like* Justin Beiber, please stop accusing me of it
July 13, 2010 2:38 AM Subscribe
How can I stop a group of young boys who I have a leadership role over from making homophobic comments, in a way that will make them ACTUALLY stop, not just when I'm around?
posted by Quadlex to Human Relations (69 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am in a Scout and Guide Show, a musical/skit performance that is on every two years. This is my 5th year, and since I'm 25 (A Rover, not a leader... Still a youth role, technically), I've been there since I was 14 and I'm mostly reliable, I've been given the role of Patrol Leader. My job is to keep my patrol organized, to make sure they're safe and working as a team. I also need to set a good example for them, both as people and for show purposes... It's what Scouting's about, after all.
So, my patrol (Including me) are all male, and all 13-14, with the exception of one 11 year old. They've not hit puberty yet and still sure of themselves in the way young children are. While we were getting to know each other, one of them mentioned Justin Beiber, and all of them immediately cried out "GAAAAAY!". Followed by "He's SO gay." and "If you like his music, YOU'RE GAY and you like HIM!" Standard schoolyard fluff, right?
Except... It's kinda not. It's not OK for them to be equating gay with bad casually, even if that's not their thought process. Just like it's not OK to say that somethings totally Christian (And thus bad) or totally Black (And thus bad) or totally republican (And thus bad)... It's all judgment, whether they literally mean their pejorative or not. As Scouts, they shouldn't be using discriminatory language. As kids, likewise.
I want to convince them not to use gay as a pejorative term. It was trotted out several more times during the rehearsal and I've got no doubt it will be trotted out several times more. It doesn't offend me except in the abstract way that discrimination always offends me. But, Scouts is supposed to be a safe environment. As a (say) 16 year old boy coming to terms with being gay, hearing insults like this at a supposed safe place is NOT OK. I know firsthand the effects on the psyche that it has, and when I was 16 Scouts was the only place that didn't care.
There's a few ways I can think of to do this: Firstly, ask them what they mean... Do they literally think that having to do homework makes you like boys? Is there something wrong with liking boys? Does it make you a bad person, or less good then someone who likes girls?
Secondly, I can just tell them off. Although "Guys, knock it off, that's inappropriate language" is effective, it's unlikely to cause a change in behavior when I'm not around.
Thirdly, I can tell them I'm gay, and I find it offensive. I believe that combined with the first, this will be most effective, but I'm used to leading a team of geeks developing software, not a group of boys putting on a show. I want them to actually stop using the word because THEY think it's not appropriate, not because an external authority has a problem with it. Coming out to them isn't a problem... Scouts Australia specifically does NOT discriminate, and there's basically no-one over the age of 16 who doesn't know I'm gay in the show.
(I've already read the other homophobia threads... I have no control over these boys outside the Scouting context, and they're not a relative, and they're quite young, so I'm not sure the advice is applicable)