The video depicting students of Queen’s Royal College having a heated verbal standoff over the sexual orientation and preferences of students has prompted a debate about accommodation for the LGBTQI community in secondary schools.
Five QRC students were suspended for seven days after the video surfaced on social media, while the student who filmed and uploaded the clip may be deemed to have “brought the college into disrepute.” As a result, he may be barred from representing the school in sporting activities, attending graduation or being recommended for Sixth Form.
However, the video has created debates about bullying and homophobia in secondary schools while others have called the punishment meted out to the student who uploaded the video harsh.
Poet and sexual rights activist Brendon O’Brien said the video raised a few concerns for him.
“The video brings up a couple of really poignant concerns to me. The first of which being how important it is for secondary schools to have and to be safe spaces for LGBTQI teens, especially young men, to express and discover their sexuality,” said O’Brien, who explained the school was also right to be alarmed by the video and its content.
“A school as prestigious as Queen’s Royal College should be especially concerned about the messages and the perceptions of a video like that,” said O’Brien.
"Research shows toxic expressions about gay men or men believed to be gay are a major contributor to reduced academic performance.”
Executive Director of CAISO: Sex & Gender Justice, Colin Robinson, also said sharing the video could be damaging to the students.
He said: “I think we all need to be very careful, especially as adults, about watching and re-posting videos of minors and young people, especially with a spite to do other people’s children harm. That would be one of my concerns if I were a school administrator, not just my school’s reputation,” said Robinson, who also said much of the commentary on the video was reflective of local social media where violent and derogatory language is used regularly.
This, he said, contributed the negative mindsets around the country.
Like O’Brien, Robinson said the video exposed a problem many students face in schools across the country.
“The video illustrates the daily reality of how bullying happens in every school,” said Robinson.
“Most of it is around some kind of gender expectations. And it shows the energy that young men, especially those who are perceived as gay, have to expend to get through the average school day when they should be playing and studying."
However, Robinson said there parts of the video that were encouraging.
He said, “It also showed for several people who saw it the resilience of two young men in standing up for themselves with available tools, from theological argument to the power of obscenity. We need institutions to do that work too.”
He added: “We need leaders and schools committed to developing young people who can talk about differences without violence (which the QRC boys admirably stopped short of), and we need policies that make schools places where tolerance is a fundamental value and resolving conflict is a critical skill.”
- by Peter Christopher