Presentation of The Research Integrating LGBT – Topics In the Šmarje pri Jelšah Elementary School Classrooms by Anja LesjakRead Now
The Presentation of The Research Integrating LGBT – Topics in The Šmarje pri Jelšah Elementary School Classrooms.
In my graduation thesis titled Integrating LGBT – topics in the Šmarje pri Jelšah elementary school classrooms, a research about the inclusion of LGBT themes in schools. At the beginning, I wanted to do my research at a smaller school because I was interested in the answers of teachers who work in a small school in the countryside. I encountered a problem, since the smaller schools did not respond at my request to conduct a survey. Of the eight requests sent to primary schools in rural areas, only two answered. I assume that schools which did not respond avoided the research because of the sensitive topic. In the two schools that were willing to participate I didn't get the minimum number of required teachers to do my research. Later, I contacted one of the pedagogues at the Primary School Šmarje pri Jelšah, which communicated with the schools teachers who were willing to participate. However, since many of the selected teachers did not respond to the e-mails, I, with the permission of the pedagogue, sent a request to all the teachers at the school. The responsiveness was very poor, as from sixty-five sent emails, I received only eight replies. The last two interviews I arranged personally during interviews with the other teachers.
The respondants consist of teachers of the Primary School Šmarje pri Jelšah, who were regularly employed in the school year 2016/2017. I interviewed 10 teachers, of which were 8 female and 2 male. The average age of the teachers was between 30 and 55 years. The interviews were held from September 15, 2016 to January 10, 2017. The aim of the research was to determine whether teachers talk about homosexuality with children in school, acquaintance them with LGBT topics, such as familiarity with LGBT acronyms, rainbow family, prejudices and stereotypes towards LGBT people, peer physical and verbal violence of LGBT pupils, teachers education on LGBT topics and the ability to talk about them.
Based on their answers, I got the following results:
Knowledge of teachers about the abbreviation »LGBT«
The answers indicate that the teachers are quite unfamiliar with LGBT topics. Mostly they do not know the terms or they have not even heard of them. The poor knowledge of LGBT topics is not a good starting point for talking to children because the children expect answers. By not knowing and not talking about LGBT the children can receive a message that this is something hidden and bad.
The relationship of teachers to the LGBT and the importance of conversations
Although teachers believe that it is important to talk about LGBT themes, they prefer to avoid conversation because of their own beliefs or because of their own inadequacy for such a conversation. Here I think that the support of the curriculum would be welcome. If LGBT topics were included in the curriculum, teachers could prepare properly and make it easier for them to talk about it with children.
Talking to children about LGBT topics
Children are very interested in the opinions of the teachers. Some teachers do not share their opinion regarding LGBT topics with children. Children are usually interested if they support same-sex families, and they already create an opinion about a teacher if (s)he supports them or not. One of the teachers, however talks about children's books with LGBT contents. The teacher believes that children are very open to LGBT topics and that resistance comes usually from parents. Teachers on general also say that younger generations are more open-minded, as they do not see the topic through religion. They believe that younger generations will break up stereotypes in society. One teacher says she likes to rely on examples and personal experience. She notices that some children are very reserved during conversations and often judge LGBT people. She thinks their prejudices come from their families, however teachers teach objectivity and honesty at school.
Avoiding talking about LGBT topics
Two of the teachers replied that they sometimes avoid talking about LGBT topics, either because of their own incompetence regarding LGBT or they tell the children that they have already talked enough about this and change the topic of the conversation. Other teachers do not avoid conversation and feel that there should be more talk about it. Teachers believe that children are not talking about this at home. One of the teachers says that she advocates professional work, which means she presents the subject objectively and helps the children if they have any questions. One of the teachers says that older children find it harder to deal with differences because they want to prove themselves before the others. They feel the pressure of their peers and they stick to the majority. He also believes that LGBT topics are harder to explain to older children. He also says that those who are more pious are more opposed to homosexuality and more homophobia appears among them.
Qualified for conversation
Half of the teachers questioned their beliefs that they are trained enough to talk to children about LGBT topics. One of the teachers said she would welcome to have some didactic knowledge in this field in order to make it easier to find a way to talk to children. One of the teachers said that he would turn to help of a professional colleague regarding the LGBT topics. About half of the teachers said that they were trained enough to talk to children about it. Less than half of teachers think they are sufficiently informed about it, but that also depends on what children are asking
The ability of other teachers to talk
It is a worrying answer that less than half of teachers think that other teachers are trained enough in the LGBT area. So, not only that half of the teachers question their qualifications, more than half believe that others are not trained enough.
Use of homophobic germplasm
The fact that children use homophobic germplots and do not know what they mean shows that teachers and parents do not talk enough with the children about it. Children hear words at home, in movies, or elsewhere. Because they see that they are used as negative expressions, they begin to use them on to the others. When used, others may be (unconsciously) affected.
Suitable age of the children for conversation
Teachers have very different opinions about when is the appropriate age of children to talk about LGBT topics with them. Some think that children understand everything if we explain the topic in an appropriate way.
Teaching children about LGBT
Teachers have different ideas about how to include LGBT topics into school work. If they were included in the curriculum, this would be a support for them. The answers show that teachers need more support in their work regarding LGBT topics (Lesjak, 2017: 23 - 39).
On the basis of theory and my own research, I find or assume that the society and the school system are still very heteronormative, and that most teachers are not ready to introduce LGBT topics into their lessons which is due to ignorance regarding LGBT topics in society. This a consequence of non-support of the curriculum and institutions that determine the course of school work. I believe that the introduction of LGBT topics into the school system would contribute to the reduction of homophobia, prejudice and, consequently, peerless violence based on same-sex orientation. If we want to reduce peer violence based on sexual orientation, we need to start introducing these themes, educating teachers, parents and children. This will gradually eliminate prejudices and thus contribute to a better quality of life for LGBT pupils and LGBT people on general.
LESJAK, ANJA (2017): Vključevanje LGBT- teme pri pouku v osnovni šoli Šmarje pri Jelšah. Diplomsko delo. Fakulteta za socialno delo: 23-39.