Glasgow: A Work in Progress

Glasgow%3A+A+Work+in+Progress

By: Isabella Pikner

December 7, 2020; Edited February 8, 2021

As civil rights continue to be an important topic in our country and across the globe, we cannot forget the LGBTQ+ community. Fairfax County is considered a progressive area, so how accepting is Glasgow Middle School which lies right in the heart of it? The truth is complicated. First and foremost, Glasgow isn’t a homophobic school. In fact, it has resources and policies in place to combat discrimination. The real issue is the quiet homophobia that lurks in the shadows, the one that stems from ignorance, misinformation, and stereotypes. Most importantly, the one that is easily preventable. Glasgow is not an aggressively homophobic school, but it can be isolating to LGBTQ+ students.

Before we can start criticizing Glasgow, let’s look at the policies they have that support the community. For example, regulation 2118, which prohibits sexual harassment, protects LGBTQ+ students from comments about their sexuality. Additionally, in the SR&R booklets it states that discrimination in forms of slurs, bullying, harassment, epithets, stereotyping, and any other demeaning acts are prohibited. If you are facing homophobia or any type of discrimination, talk to your counselor, the GSA, and in more serious cases, your school social worker. If Glasgow and FCPS have these protections in place, then what is the real issue? Is there just no issue then? Well, to put it plainly, no.

First, let’s go to our history classes, shall we? All we ask is to have one unit dedicated to discrimination that we face. Another option could be a lesson on the Stonewall riots, which were essential to LGBTQ+ activism. Either of these could help show the problems we have overcome, to bring awareness to the community as a whole. When asked if they would like a unit dedicated to LGBTQ+ history, the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ+ students said yes. When asked if they feel represented during lessons, half of them said no.

 

Another challenge is gym class. There can’t be that much discrimination in a class all about playing games, right? Wrong. Let’s look at the locker rooms, boys and girls. That’s it. No gender non-conforming, nonbinary places to change for gym class. Though Glasgow does have one gender neutral bathroom, gym teachers have made it clear that we were not to change in the bathrooms. They might make an exception, but then you are faced with a choice: do you out yourself to this stranger, or have dysphoria for the rest of the school year?

Health class is also a problem. When learning about reproductive health, it’s all heteronormative. The curriculum was made for cisgender, heterosexual individuals. A quote collected during interviews was, “I feel like Glasgow does a miserable job at keeping their LGBTQIA+ students comfortable and represented, since in history there is barely any talk of LGBTQ+ history, and in health they only talk about information regarding cis-het people.” The GSA is currently trying to fix it, but it shouldn’t take an after school club to change something that should have been included in the first place.

Finally, let’s talk about social life. A quote that perfectly illustrates the issue some have reads as such, “I get kind of upset, cause it should really be normalized. If a heterosexual person says they have a crush on someone, most people will be like, “Oh!! who?!” Whilst if a LGBTQ+ member says they have a crush on someone, some people will say, ‘Oh.. It’s not me though right? Cause, you know, I’m not like you?’ Of course this isn’t with all people. Just in some occasions, but it just upsets me a little bit.“

Another quote that shows a bad experience in school is, “Sometimes I think we are all assumed, and we have to actually tell people our preferences and pronouns. If people don’t know, it’s ok to ask, but not to go in and say ‘you’re a girl’ or ‘you’re straight.’ It actually hurts a lot.” Another person said, “In sixth grade I had some people make some inappropriate comments about my sexuality and I liked or dated.” You can see that the hate doesn’t come from the teachers or any of the staff, but it comes from well intentioned students who don’t know better, or students who deliberately do this because they haven’t been exposed to proper representation.

In conclusion, though the Glasgow community may not realize what they are doing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. If Glasgow really wants to be a safe place, it needs to have more inclusive lessons, changing rooms, and a better environment overall.