Don’t Be a Sissy: Achieving Equality in America’s Public Schooling System

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The fight for full equality has gone on for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. People of color, the mentally and physically ill, and the disadvantaged have all struggled for equal rights in the face of discrimination, and for the most part, they have won. Very few people today will witness someone in a wheelchair and claim that he is less of a person than one who is able to stand. Yet, there are people all across the country, of any race, age, and manner of health, who still struggle to this day. These people are routinely beaten, alienated, and shamed due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or any mix of both. One of the most saddening aspects of this is that much of this hateful behavior either takes place in, or is reinforced by, the K-12 school setting. Young children who were called ‘sissies’ on the playground go through puberty and receive the new nickname ‘faggot’. Hateful language is especially prevalent in the high school setting, where the word gay is now considered a synonym for stupid or unfair. Discrimination of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity affects K-12 students of all ages by enforcing shame and hatred of a natural function, and can be solved by adjustments in sexual education and individual open-mindedness. Gender identity and sexuality come in many different spectrums, and may not always be recognizable at first glance. Sexual orientation, or what kind of person someone is sexually interested in, can basically be seen in terms of heterosexuality and homosexuality: Those who are only attracted to the opposite sex are heterosexual, those who are only attracted to the same sex are homosexual, and those who are attracted to both the same and opposite sex are bisexual. However, ... ... middle of paper ... ...Influence." World & I 17.7 (2002): 58. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011. McKay, Alexander. "U.S. teenagers' sexual behaviours became more cautious between 1991 and 2005." Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 15.2 (2006): 115-116. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011. "Pakistan allows transsexuals to have own gender category." Host Aleem Maqbool. BBC News. BBC Online. 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. "Statistics." G L I D E: Statistics. Gays and Lesbians Initiating Dialogue for Equality, 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. "TransWhat? • Glossary of terms." TransWhat?: A Guide Towards Allyship. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. Walley, Shane. "LGBT Vocabulary 101." University of Texas, 7 Oct. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2011. Yoshino, Kenji, and Michael Kavey. "GAY LAW FOR BEGINNERS." Advocate 985 (2007): 28. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

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