Why can't I dance with my girlfriend?
Schools aren’t doing enough for LGBT pupils, says Claire Dickie.
Some may say that homophobia is a thing of the past and it only exists within conservative areas. I would argue differently. Homophobia exists within my school but not necessarily the loud, violent concept of homophobia that we are used to. This kind is silent, slowly making its way to the surface like a hunter in the night, ready to strike without warning.
It may be the festive period but that does not make this go away - in fact this does the complete opposite. I'm sure everyone remembers "social dancing" at school. The joys of having to ask someone to dance and the embarrassment of being left with the teacher, doomed to demonstrate all the dances. But does anyone ever think about the LGBT couples/individuals?
My friend group consists of many queer people and we know of other people who fit in the LGBT community within our school. When attending Christmas dances (compulsory for the first two years) these people can feel completely invisible, uncomfortable and anxious.
Last year, I wanted to address this issue so I created a petition to make social dancing voluntary for those who enjoy it and for others to be able to participate in another class. For people with social anxiety, being in a hall with a class 10 times as big as normal classes, being forced to do things that make you uncomfortable can lead to a reduction in attendance or skipping class to avoid it. For those pupils who are attracted to the same sex, they are not allowed to dance with the partner of their choosing and transgender pupils must take the role of their incorrect gender. My petition was supposed to address this in some way and to a degree it has, but not enough.
I asked friends and classmates to do some research for me. They attended social dancing classes and attempted to dance with a partner of the same sex. All were told to stop eventually. When stopped, they asked the teacher why and he refused to give a reason. This is blatant homophobia but it is not the end. Some have reported being forced to dance with a member of the opposite sex for no reason. At Christmas dances in previous years, people were asked to stop dancing if they were with a partner of the same sex or even told to "take it outside if they want to continue". Occasionally, contests are held where couples are eliminated by teachers until one couple, the best dancers, are left. If you are dancing with someone you "shouldn't be", you are not allowed to participate in these contests.
The Christmas dances are spilt between year groups and as you get older, teachers are more lenient towards same sex couples, but as I have said before, there should be no age limit to being yourself. Accepting yourself is hard and little things like not being able to dance with who you want to can leave a lasting impact on people. I believe that you should be able to dance with who you want to without any discomfort or anxiety. How hard is it to let two girls or two boys dance together? What problems are they causing?
The dances this year are yet to happen; maybe this year will see an improvement. We will have to wait as only time will tell and I am determined to do my part in ending homophobia within my school. LGBT representation within my school is limited at best. I have seen what it can do to people, how it can hurt them, and I feel that this should change.
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