I have a very close friend who is gender binary (or genderqueer), and they refer to themself as "they" or "their". It is sometimes very difficult to do this, as "they" is typically used as a plural pronoun. When I read the article, the author used the pronouns "ze" and "hir" to describe Erica. So, I did some research to see what the difference between these pronouns is. Turns out, there is no difference, and the only thing that determines which pronouns can be used is personal preference. I found an article online from The Washington Post attached to a video, and they both do a very good job to explain genderqueerness. Jacob, the person in the video, identifies themself as "they" and "their", but the article explains that others use "ze" and "hir" to identify themselves. As Jacob says, they doesn't have to be a man or a woman, they're just happy being Jacob.
Unfortunately, not all transgender people feel as comfortable in their own bodies as Jacob does. There have been a lot of teen suicides due to LGBT issues. One of the most viral ones was the story of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender female who committed suicide. In her suicide note, Leelah thanks her friends for supporting her, but condemns her family for refusing to accept her or help her. They had taken her to Christian therapists to help her with her depression, but these therapists did nothing but hurt her, as they condemned her just as her parents did. Leela did state in her suicide note that her school was mostly supportive, but it is clear that they did not do enough. Leelah writes in her suicide note, "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was. They're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something." Leelah brings up one of the issues that August talks about in her article. Schools need to stop ignoring the LGBT community and start to include them in their lessons. As August says, "Good intentions are not enough; trying to see all students the same is not enough. Being a fair-minded individual is not enough. We argue that educators must publicly commit to creating classroom climates of individuality and respect with the pledged cooperation of all students" (99). Including the LGBT community in the classroom is extremely important.
There are so many LGBT members like Leelah who are not accepted for who they are. If educators were more open to addressing LGBT issues in the classroom, maybe things like this would change. Recently, I saw a short film called "Love is All You Need?", which I have posted below. The film is about 20 minutes long, but it is certainly worth watching. In the film, the culture of power is reversed so that homosexuality is the norm and therefore they hold all of the power. The film shows a little girl who starts to realize that she is different. She likes boys, where all of her friends like people of the same gender as themselves. Throughout the movie, she struggles with her parents and many school bullies. I won't give away the ending, but it is extremely powerful. It is meant to show people in power what people without power have to deal with in a way where they can relate strongly to the main character. This, of course, relates back to Delpit's "culture of power," showing that those with power are usually least aware of it. This short film certainly does a good job trying to spark awareness to this power difference.
It sometimes seems like things are starting to get better already for the LGBT community. There are many celebrities who publicly identify themselves as part of the LGBT alliance including Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, and Raven Symone, and Laverne Cox. However, it is clear that there are still many problems that need to be addressed. I believe that August's article is one hundred percent correct in saying that educators need to be more inclusive of the LGBT community in the classroom, as well as address communication problems in the classroom that happen between children. One of the biggest issues in schools is bullying, and many LGBT students suffer from this. There is also the issue of LGBT slurs, which August talked about in her article. In order to be inclusive of the LGBT community, it is important that teachers speak up when they hear their students using these slurs, and make sure that they understand why it is wrong to use the words in the ways that they are using them, like Patrick did in the article. If we can do all of this, then hopefully, over time, the status of the LGBT community will change for the better.
In conclusion, here's a catchy song I heard a while ago that greatly highlights the difference in power between heterosexuals and homosexuals.