Sample Book Review On Get That Freak: Homophobia And Transphobia In High Schools
Authors, Haskett and Burtch provide an insight into the lives of 16 gay adolescent youth who share their experiences about life in their Canadian high schools where homophobia and transphobia are still challenges facing teens throughout the country. The book successfully displays the need for change in the school administrations and teachers to help the movement towards accepting the LGBTQ teens without bullying, criticizing, or ridiculing the student. Although the turmoil from the negativity the teens have faced is evident, proof that positive reinforcement and support by the teachers and administrations have profound success on the psyche of the students is bullied for their sexual preference or gender identification.
Sixteen interviews were conducted by the authors to understand the position and experiences of teens that have identified themselves as ‘different’ from the typical heterosexual male or female peer. As bullying in schools has gained attention over the past several years, the focus of the bullying in terms of the LGTBQ teens has not been largely addressed. Unfortunately, a large majority of bullied students fall into the category of becoming victims of harassment because of their sexual preference of gender identity. The issues of bullying become so serious that many teens resort to taking their own lives because of the shame and ridicule that they face daily. Often the adults in these schools overlook the insults and harassment of these LGBTQ teens, creating a hopeless situation for these kids.
The book makes an excellent point of drawing attention to the importance of school administration to shift their attitudes and positions on the way LGBTQ youth are treated. Allowing teachers to condone behavior that is hurtful and lacking sensitivity to these teens is more damaging than educators may realize. Education is something that all children, teen, and young adults should have equal access to without fear of persecution for who they are. If the educational system does not take a stand for proper training of their teachers and staff, the ignorance of these hurtful acts will continue. In the 21st century it would no longer be acceptable for teachers to overlook or laugh at racially charged slurs and the same consideration must be made toward the LGBTQ student body. One can understand that this movement is fairly new in terms of becoming a culturally acceptable lifestyle, but as the truth makes its way to the forefront, the educational system is responsible for expanding and exploring the reality of life outside the heterosexual world.
An interesting identification made by the authors about the term ‘phobia’ in the use of anti-LGBTQ views is a valuable distinction that is made in the book. Calling the hatred of individuals who do not fit into the cultural mold of a heterosexual male or female a ‘phobia’ detracts the situation into an excusable condition that one faces. For example, claustrophobia, which is a fear of closed in, small spaces is a condition that causes one have anxiety or a panic attack. Comparing the choice to judge another’s sexuality or identity is not an appropriate term for those who are vehemently against the LGBTQ community. Small shifts in the national and world culture on the associations that have been formulated in regard to this segmentation of individuals is what will help progress the world to becoming more accepting of everyone as
normal. Currently many still think of those who are gay or transgender and unsure as a group of people considered dysfunctional or mentally sick. Religious groups also play a large role in the stance they take as they condemn homosexuality as a sin. The issue is complex and books like, Get That Freak: Homophobia and Transphobia in High Schools are crucial to educating the world of expanding the horizon as the world begins to acknowledge that differences do not make people bad.
Parents of students put a lot of trust into the hands of the schools and educators who play a large role in the lives of their children. Realizing that teachers are not keeping children from the harm of the bullying, which is a traumatic incident that they experience, known to have resulted in numerous cases of gay teens committing suicide, is alarming when one steps away from personal prejudices over the issue. No teacher would accept the a regular case of sexual harassment to occur in their presence on a daily basis, so why is harassment because of one’s sexual preference or identity treated differently? The nation must take an honest look at the stance of our citizens and move forward from there. Canada has been a nation to accept the early onset of gay marriage, so it is time that the Canadian school systems take a stand to become pioneers in a movement to reform equal rights for students.
It is easy to assume that the authors hope that reading about the experiences of these young LGBTQ individuals creates an incentive for the adults who have a responsibility for the future generations to live in a more accepting world; a world where a child is not forced to the darkness that would drive him or her to the brink of terminating their own lives. Reading the interviews was hard as you see that what may be a simple demeaning of an individual passed on ignorant beliefs could cause another so much pain. The dialogue opened up the reader to step into the world of these teens that are clearly suffering and suicidal over problems that society should work toward overcoming.
The biggest lesson that provides most valuable about the book, aside from the harsh reality that the reader is able to understand about the teens, is the hopeful option that is possible with change. Many of the students interviewed mention that enormous difference it made when they had support within the school. For example, when a homosexual teacher at the school encourages the organization of a club where LGBTQ teens can meet and feel comfortable with themselves. When schools encourage the organization of clubs that honor the LGBTQ teens to celebrate their individuality, it sends a positive message to the rest of the school community. The result of this openness may begin to create a social change in attitude towards bullying these students.
Numerous situations that held as an argument for the positive affects by of teacher and student support reported by the students who were interviewed was important to note from the book. Despite the hardships, when these students had any support that was openly and shamelessly provided to them by teacher and students who would not stand for the disrespect aimed at them because of their sexual identity or sexual preference, it gave the students the confidence to stand prouder than they would have otherwise. It is so important that the book showed the pain and hope that the students express during their interviews so that the reader can properly understand the subject as one that must be addressed in the Canadian society, and especially in the school systems responsible for our the youth of the nation.
Any measure of action that is taken in defense of the LGBTQ students is obviously worth it to these teens. A common theme and message reverberated in the interviews that support and acceptance are crucial for their well-being as individuals who are struggling to fit into a heterosexist society. Many steps have helped evolve the nation and the world to see LGBTQ as normal an equal people in the world, just alike men and women are supposed to be treated equally, and all races and ethnicities. Unfortunately equality across the board is not a reality in the world today, but books and movements to educate will be integral in the mission to make a change for all people to feel accepted and comfortable to pursue life as they desire.
As I conclude the essay, I must say that the book was well written, and made several impactful points about the challenges the LGBTQ adolescents face in the schools, and how educators play a large part in helping change that reality. The only weakness I noted from the book was the lack of transgender individuals that was used in the interviewing of these students. The overall quality of information and knowledge that the authors provide is material that school systems should encourage the educators of schools throughout the nation to read. Maybe if teachers and those individuals responsible for providing a nurturing environment for the youth to obtain their education are given the opportunity to understand the way these teens feel, they may feel more urgency in shifting their own behaviors toward them.