A recent survey of LGBTQ students in public schools uncovered some disturbing trends identified in disciplinary interventions doled out by principals, assistant principals of discipline, school board disciplinary hearings and other entities authorized to punish kids who break rules in school.
LGBTQ kids are suspended, expelled or in some way sanctioned more often than straight kids. You can read all about it in a new publication by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network) entitled “Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out and the School -to – Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth”.
There are many reasons why LGBTQ children are tormented at school and punished more often than straight kids. However, the visceral reaction people will have upon learning these statistics comes from a deep inner knowing that many people in positions of authority identify with the aggressor.
If legislators and religious institutions support discrimination against people whose expression is different from the norm, then the schools will teach that world view. Of course, normal children will organize their reality around the psychological imperative to mirror and emulate what they see. Children learn what they live.
This train of thought leads down a dark, angry and painful path. It means that bullying by children and adolescents is taught by the adults around them. It means that adults in children’s lives cause them to cut on themselves or to kill themselves. It means that violence is caused by people who mirror a reality of dominance and exclusion that was modeled for them when they were children.
Many parents, educators and churchgoers will read this and get angry. They will point out why and how this doesn’t apply to the way they treat children. But they would be missing the point: children watch what you do. They listen to what you say.
Children make extremely complex and sophisticated observations of the life around them. They have an intuitive ability to recognize the truth. Adults process their observations differently from children. They internalize a worldview that hurts and in doing so perpetrate tremendous violence. The ensuing pattern of attack and defense reverberates throughout their families, their schools, their churches and their legislatures.
When people act from this pattern of attack and defense, it’s easy to see. They pass laws forbidding transgendered children from using the “right” bathroom. They tell their congregations that LGBTQ people don’t deserve to get married. They assault, attack, kill them because they are not straight.
But most violence is perpetrated much more subtly and by people who identify themselves as good, caring and loving. And perhaps they are. If a transgendered child were to become sick to their stomach, many people who unconsciously perpetrate violence would honestly care and rush them to the bathroom. They might say, “Trans kids are God’s children, too.” And they think they mean it.
But when people have to work to maintain a worldview that hurts, they become distracted from their own intuitive awareness of what they’re doing. If they hear that small voice of caring and love for children who are different, they experience an anxiety when they think about what will happen if they listen to it.
If they don’t listen, they actually become more anxious. They identify the truth of why they’re anxious. So they act with unconscious cruelty.
Most educators genuinely love and value the work they do. Other educators aren’t as inspired, but they need a job, and they try. And there are some educators bristling with intolerance and prejudice. At least they are recognizable and easier to challenge.
The real damage comes from the good people who are nevertheless abiding by the dominance and aggression acculturated within their communities. These people don’t speak up. They don’t see. They don’t rock the boat. They are bothered by the behavior of obviously prejudiced others and feel helpless to address it, so they don’t.
Unless they have an epiphany. An epiphany is a game changer–an enlightenment and change in consciousness. Sometimes an epiphany is triggered by new information–by seeing something you didn’t know existed. The new information rips into the general consensus of what’s real like an earthquake. Other times, the information processes much more slowly, but is always characterized by sudden shifts in awareness. These can be quite upsetting.
GLSEN is bearing witness to this insidious paradigm. Their newest publication tells us that what is happening to LGBTQ school children is being perpetrated by educators as much as it is by bullies.
The only reason I am aware of this information is because I looked for it. Most people who identify with the majority won’t look. So they have to hear it and see it. Again. And again. And again.
Robin Shelton is an ally on a learning curve to the LGBTQ Community. She practices psychotherapy privately in Chesapeake. Her clinical orientation is Transpersonal in Nature and is informed by extensive clinical supervision and practice with multiple populations. Her life long study of Astrology and fascination with the Numinous and all things Quantum inspire her to speak up for the rights of the LGBTQ Community and for the rights of Animals to live for themselves. She likes to push the envelope way outside the box.