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Author Topic: From Marlborough?  (Read 61 times)

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Offline Daily News

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From Marlborough?
« on: 22 Sep 11, 03:12:pm »
Gay, lesbian, bisexual trans and intersex people who went to school in Marlborough are being asked to share their experiences from the schoolyard and the classroom, in a campaign driven by the local police Diversity Liaison Officer to push local schools to wake up to the reality of life for queer teenagers.

On top of her job in the Blenheim CIB, Detective Kirsten Norton also volunteers as the Marlborough DLO, a role where she acts as something of a mediator and even something of an interpreter between the glbti community and the police, as well as between glbti police officers and other staff.

Part of her role is assisting with the development of strategies for glbti victims of crime and on the back of a meeting with the sexual health co-ordinator at Wairau Hospital one of the key issues raised was the particularly 'unsafe' school environment for students who are attempting to come to terms with their sexuality or gender, or who have been 'labelled' by other students as being so - with no input from them.

"Recently there was an article in the Marlborough Express relating to Luke Hinkley, an ex Marlborough Boys’ College Student and a letter to the editor from the mother of a former student who struggled immensely during his time at MBC. Both highlight the real issues still present within our schools," Detective Norton has written in an email calling for former students to come forward.

"The general issue is that generally our schools refuse to acknowledge that students are struggling with this issue and therefore tolerate behaviour from other students which is having a very negative effect on these students."

Detective Norton says from her perspective, like any organisation, this needs to come from the top and unless the message really gets through to the teachers and counsellors then any positive gains will come and go from year to year.

"Clearly there are a number of teachers that really just don't get it and are happy to adopt a head in the sand approach or else they would not turn a blind eye to the behaviour going on around them - from name calling to physical bullying to assaults," she says.

"Schools should be actively supporting safe areas/support groups within the school.

"Occasionally these things come to a head and schools have to deal with 'diversity issues' but I suspect they can discount it personally by, in a way, laying some blame at the student involved rather than acknowledging the wider issue which is the culture within the school."

Detective Nolan says some groundwork needs to be laid to try and make schools see what they can't or won't see.

"But the current students affected are not in a position to say it for fear of intimidation, so a bit of a change in strategy," she says, explaining that's why she is trying to spread the word to as many present and past students, or their parents, in the hope they will write letters outlining their own experiences at their school in Marlborough.

In particular she is asking people to cover the following topics:
1. Years at school and what school.
2. Where they were at in their school years in acknowledging their sexuality/gender?
3. What school was like for them in relation to this?
4. If they were "out" how was this treated by the school/teachers/students i.e. did they try and keep it under wraps, was it acknowledged, or the opposite?
5. How did their school experiences/attitudes affect their behaviour at school/how long they stayed/choices they made at school?
6. How important was the attitude/treatment received by teachers regardless of whether they were out or considering it - ie what messages were being sent and how did this affect them?
7. How has their experiences at school affected life from here on in eg wanted to complete a school year but felt couldn’t stay, leaving Blenheim, counselling, work choices, since?
8. A snap shot of life now eg occupation, orientation etc

"Obviously this will have greater impact if the students are able to sign their name and identify themselves because this in itself will help break down stereotypes but this is not necessary if people are uncomfortable identifying themselves, the important thing is to make it real and personal rather than just stats," Detective Nolan says.

She is happy to receive and collate the responses, in any format whether it be email, a letter or another.

"The intention is to create a real life document that we can take into the schools to show teachers etc that even in Marlborough what they do and how they react does matter and although these students feel safer remaining invisible at the moment in our schools they still exist and they still hurt," she continues.

"There are some really successful ex- Marlborough students out there that can add real value to this, there are also some students that haven't made it and I think that the opportunity for parents of all students to write as well.

"It is also an opportunity for those who have struggled in the past to both be acknowledged but also help those that are struggling now."

Postal address at the Police Station is Detective NORTON, Blenheim Police Station, PO Box 342 Blenheim, or Detective Norton can be emailed at KNI555@police.govt.nz, or contacted through the Blenheim Police Station.

Offline gayarchitect

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Re: From Marlborough?
« Reply #1 on: 23 Sep 11, 11:30:am »
hmm.. Maybe they should say from the South Island.

hmm... Not sure what the response will be.

I certainly have an opinion, hmm I remember the Head of the Art Department telling the class that one of the art teachers teaching at the school was not gay.

But he clearly was, I saw evidence of this :)

hmm If they don't let teachers to be out, it's certainly tough for the students.

All Boys schools hmmm...