KKC Sex and Gender Alliance: “I notice an overwhelming amount of homophobia and transphobia in my class’

About three-quarters of secondary schools in the Netherlands have a GSA, a gender and gender alliance. It is a place where students of all kinds of sexual orientation, gender identities, gender expressions and gender characteristics come together to support and increase acceptance of LGBT people. Keizer Karel College also has a GSA and approximately 30-40 students have joined the fight for a safer school climate. Something that, according to the members, is “highly wanted”.

In a remote room in the KKC emergency building, students from the GSA flock at about eleven o’clock to a meeting about the organization of the annual GSA big party. It’s a special party for GSA members and it promises to be a frenzy with teachers dressed as transvestites for a real drag show.

One of the students is Daniel*, the pronouns (pronoun) “I love everything.” “For me, GSA is a safe place. Many people are not happy at home. Parents take their sexual feelings taboo. Or they kiss, but don’t talk about it. At GSA, you can be with other people like you. And where you can express yourself.”

“I don’t understand why you should care that I don’t like boys”

Syre, member of the GSA

GSA at Keizer Karel College has been around since 2015. Around 2011 there were a number of students who formed a LGBTQ group and sent a letter to the former university president. In it they expressed their concerns about the LGBT community and school culture at that moment. A few years later, a letter writer’s sister pushed herself forward to take on the assignment with another gay student. That sister also chose a high school boy’s name and later went into transition. “We consider them to be the founders of GSA,” says Jerloff Pelag, a biology teacher at KKC and supervisor of GSA. “They registered us in 2015 with the COC, the LGBTQ community interest group, as a school with the GSA.”

No unnecessary luxury

With that said, the GSA was an official fact. According to Gerloff, it is not a superfluous luxury. “We have a GSA suite of apps and things go viral every now and then. Recently, a class was really harassed and the child in question came out of the class in fear and sadness. These things happen now and then. Then later, often in the evening, this is reported on the app and from It’s so nice that we can support each other.”

GSA students have a lot of examples of accidents. So are Syre*, the pronouns ‘I don’t care’. “On June 1, I was carrying a big rainbow flag to the other building with two other members of the GSA. My colleagues saw it. Then I had to scroll through hundreds of anti-gay and satirical posts on the class group app. I’m now under the term lesbian, because that’s how I feel I’m more comfortable with him now. I don’t understand why you should care that I don’t like boys.”

The Science of Lesbian Pride.

Alex is in seventh grade and is transgender, he says. “I noticed a shocking amount of homophobia and transphobia in my class. Then I called myself born and engaged in misinformation (addressing someone or talking about the person and using words that don’t match their gender identity). It makes me feel bad. It’s really weird to feel In this way. It seems that I should not. I should identify myself as a girl and not change my gender.” Alex is perfectly acceptable at home. “They sometimes have a problem with my pronouns.”

Daniel faces a lot of acceptance in his class. But at the beginning of the year, he faced death threats via his open Instagram account. However, he keeps his account open. “I wouldn’t say I’ve asked people. But I’ve also seen people talking about who they were in the past. Then my story can make other kids comfortable. Maybe I can make an impact somewhere.”

self-acceptance

What plays a bigger role than acceptance of the environment is self-acceptance. This is not an easy thing for young LGBTQ people and is something that people suffer widely from. Daniel: Sometimes I lie in bed crying because I want to be like everyone else. The standard of being a girl and falling in love with men. I liked it very much. I have to accept myself. It’s okay to like girls and not always feel like a girl. This is very difficult for me.”

“I even tried to be a girl again. But that didn’t work out”

Alex, GSA member and transgender

Also for Max, the pronoun “all”, was a massive search for himself. “I’ve been through many crises, who I really am, and what people want from me. I’m out now. I often have the feeling that when I say what I want right now, I’m selfish. Because people say it complicates everything. I feel like you’re a burden to people “.

“I have a lot of problems with self-acceptance because of accepting others,” Alex says. “Then I just built my self-acceptance and then… bam! People said I’m a girl and I’m just following this trend. That’s why I tried to be a girl again. But that didn’t work. Because of my issues with self-acceptance, I prefer not to talk to people who do not accept it. Talking to older GSA employees helps me with admission.”

straight ally

However, not everyone in the GSA belongs to the LGBTQ community. Lisa (17) has worked with the Public Services Agency for 1.5 years and is a direct ally and a direct ally. “I just want to support my friends. I am honest about myself, but many of my friends are something else.” For Lisa, it is especially important to increase acceptance within the school. Because he also finds this “significantly bad”. Stories of children shouting names and swearing at stolen rainbow flags. Very childish how to deal with it. This is a shame, but fortunately many people accept it.”

Lisa is particularly upset by the school’s reaction to this. “The school doesn’t do much about it. Someone recently went to the mentor, he was a coward about it. Not much happened. But what can you do about it?”

Don’t say gay

According to Gerloff, the community at the school is growing. And he’s very happy with that. “There was nothing. GSA didn’t come out of nowhere. There was a need, because if you feel different, there is nowhere to go. This leads to serious psychological complaints, depression, depression and suicide. Statistics show that rates of suicide among LGBT people are many times higher. “.

“I think it’s only natural to look at everything in a straightforward manner.”

Milo, GSA member

Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea to let kids connect with these kinds of topics at this age. There is a common belief that it would actually cause LGBT people to feel emotional. An international example of this is the “No Less Gay Law” from Florida, United States. There, teachers in public schools are no longer allowed to provide information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

When asking students if they would feel the same way if they did not receive information, students are clear. “It’s not talked about, but you think about it faster,” says Mia*, her/her pronouns. Adds Milo*, the pronoun he/die: “I think it’s normal to look at everything in a straightforward way. Like wearing clothes. Boys should wear pants. There are double standards, women are allowed to wear pants, so why can’t men wear skirts?”

cage around

For Alex as a transgender, the feelings were clearly just there, even without education. “But then I’d stay in the closet. Then I’d think: That’s scary, let’s ignore it. In a corner around a cage. We’re burning the key.”

Yes, GSA definitely contributes to the youth coming out of the closet. Gerloff is totally convinced. “When someone says something during meetings or indicates that they spoke to their parents at home, the GSA members clap a lot. Then something really happened in the group. I can imagine that if you saw it happen as a student and you weren’t ready yet, it gives you strength. “.

(* fictitious name, real name known to editors)

Reactie school:

De schoolleiding vindt het een verrijking voor de school dat er een GSA is en ondersteunt de GSA daarom van harte bij alle acties. 

Het KKC wordt in het algemeen ervaren als een veilige school door leerlingen. We doen er ook veel aan om dit te realiseren aangezien het ook een van de kernwaarden van onze school is. Dat de leerlingen van de GSA zich niet altijd even veilig voelen in de school, vindt de schoolleiding natuurlijk niet prettig om te lezen. In ons leerlingenstatuut en in onze schoolregels hebben wij hier zaken over opgenomen, maar wij willen natuurlijk niet alleen een papieren werkelijkheid. Wij proberen die veiligheid te vergroten door als schoolleiding de GSA in alle opzichten te steunen en op de plekken waar wij invloed kunnen uitoefenen, dit ook te doen. 

Onze ervaring is dat wij als school snel en duidelijk optreden bij pesterijen of discriminatie in de school. Als leerlingen ervaren dat er niks met hun klachten wordt gedaan, hopen we dat zij de weg weten te vinden naar ons of naar andere personen in de school om dit aanhangig te maken. Wij geven voorlichting en werken aan bewustwording via de (mentor)lessen en workshops voor medewerkers, waarin leerlingen van de GSA een duidelijke rol nemen. 

Wij hebben recent de vraag gekregen vanuit de GSA om in onze schriftelijke uitingen rekening te houden met de gekozen naam en de pronouns van een leerling. Wij zetten ons ervoor in om dit te regelen in de schriftelijke communicatie. Wij hebben (nog) geen beleid gemaakt op hoe docenten om moeten gaan met gekozen namen van leerlingen. Ook onze docenten moeten nog leren omgaan met deze wensen en zo'n proces kost tijd.

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