Bullied for her sexual orientation, a lesbian teen was told by school officials that she needed to tone down her “gayness” because she was scaring and confusing other students. School officials stated that the girl was to blame for flaunting her same sex attraction and thereby provoking other students to commit violence against her.
The school is assuming that heterosexual students have the right to express their sexuality and sexual orientation without being the victims of bullying or violence, but did not extend the same courtesy to the girl since she identifies as lesbian. She was thereby clearly being treated differently by the school because of her sexual orientation. Sadly, the girl left school after being physically abused and threatened. The high school did not follow protocol as they did not report the violence committed against the student, even though the school is required to report such incidences. When the teen confronted the school she was told that it was her responsibility to report the assault, thereby completely denying her rights as a student while simultaneously denying the discrimination, violence and bullying she endured.
As usual we read the comments at the end of the article to see what people are saying in regards to the event. Surprisingly, some people seemed to agree with the discrimination of the lesbian teen. One reader stated that:
As shocking and unbelievable as it may sound, 16 y/o are not exactly the most tolerant society in the world. If one decides to display ones love to cats by wearing solely cat related apparel in the school, one would take a calculated risk. The same goes for obvious gays (emos, goths, satanists, punks etc) who are coming to school in obvious unusual apparel or “butch” for girls or dragqueen for guys outlook.
This person means that anyone who does not look or act according to what is considered “normal” or “the norm” can expect to face discrimination, violence or bullying. It is not uncommon that lesbian and gay women and men are assumed guilty of provoking others by “flaunting” their sexuality as they are blamed for either acting “too camp” or being “too butch” while heterosexual individuals are not punished for displaying their sexuality or sexual identity/preferences. Neither are they reprimanded for looking or acting “too straight”. No one ever tells heterosexual men and women to tone down their display of heterosexuality.
The discrimination that occurred at the high school is not unusual and neither is the belief in compulsory heternormativity. A great example of how normative heterosexuality is considered versus how abnormal homosexuality is presented is clearly demonstrated in The Heterosexual Questionnaire (created by Martin Rochlin in 1977) which turns heteronormativity on its head by asking participants questions such as: “When and where did you decide you were a heterosexual?” and “Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality. Can’t you just be who you are and keep it quiet?” This questionnaire was created to showcase the absurdity of heteronormativity as well as the discrimination that individuals identifying as homosexual, bisexual (or other sexual orientations) face as they are being treated as “other” on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Whatever sexual orientation, women and men should have the right to express that orientation, personality and individuality without being heckled, abused or bullied. The school officials and bullies should be ashamed for participating in the systematic abuse and exclusion of the teen girl. Apparently being “too gay” is far more damaging than bullying, expressing homophobic attitudes and commit violent acts against a teen girl.