Homophobia persists despite efforts to promote unity

Ava Bruce, Staff Writer

School is a place where students come to learn, and studies have shown that in order to do so, schools must first focus on social and emotional development and wellness. 

In terms of LGBTQ+ acceptance, staff and students say that the Tigard-Tualatin School District really does try to create a welcoming environment. Looking around almost every classroom, there are signs denouncing homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism, and the teachers proudly hang pride flags and sport rainbow masks. Despite all of this, students say, skewed biases are still perpetrated by some peers. 

It’s not uncommon for the F-slur to be casually thrown around in the hallway and for students to use “gay” in a deragatory way, they say. One would like to assume that a majority of students are against this negative terminology, but even a small group using these words is enough to do harm, according to students. 

Senior Kyle Duong from Tualatin High School has been affected by this overt homophobia. 

“I would say the worst thing people have said to me is, ‘That’s so gay’ or ‘Are you gay?’ Even asking is bad because you shouldn’t ask someone about their sexuality. They try to put you on the spot.”

It’s the microaggressions like this that create such an unwelcoming environment, along with the community disconnect within the schools. Homophobia is not attributed to the staff, but it’s not necessarily stopped by the students.

Senior Bella Layman from Tigard High School has noticed this.

“I mean we have the flags up and we preach about being accepting, but I think a lot of staff and students let homophobia, transphobia, et cetera, slide by.” 

The staff and students within the district need to do better in the fight against homophobia, these students say, adding that every student deserves to be treated with respect and have access to a safe and comfortable learning environment.

Duong remarked, “As time goes on, hopefully it will get more normalized and homophobia will go away. I feel like right now it’s really hard to get rid of it. Teenagers like to talk about things that are different from them and to pick apart things about people who aren’t the same as them.”