Public display of affection (PDA) at school is unfair and creates discomfort among LGBTQ students.
George Brown College (GBC) students need to be more aware and considerate when using PDA at school because of the discomfort felt by other students.
“It absolutely is not fair, but to me that is part of what makes it a privilege,” said Teal-Rose Jarid Jaques, GBC alumnus and former Student Association (SA) LGBTQ representative from 2011-2012.
It seems as though certain GBC campuses are less tolerant than others, putting emphasis on the Casa Loma campuses where Jacques felt there was far less tolerance.
“I think its really hard to be open at GBC in any setting, it’s always seen as taking it too far – when discussing Queer PDA,” said Kyle Rodgers, another former SA LGBTQ rep from 2012-2013. “When it’s a straight couple it gets the same label as is seen in society as a whole, that idea of ‘Aw so cute! They must really love each other.'”
For students who identify as straight, we have the privilege of comfort when expressing our affection with our partners, but this PDA is not only distracting, but inappropriate for an academic setting.
“Some (opposite sex) couples don’t acknowledge the fact that there is a privilege that’s associated with being able to display affection with your partner in public,” said Colin Druhan, manager of equity and advocacy for the SA.
Expressing yourself through affection is fine, but when it creates discomfort in a place where there are a variety of different students, from a variety of cultures, as well as a variety of sexual and gender preferences, we need to take all these things into consideration before we act on our own privileges.
Kris, a student in the pre-health program who asked that her last name not be used said, “when I was in the Community Worker Program, teachers were not only monitoring the safe space, but educating us and calling us out on our homophobic, transphobic and sexist language and actions.”
She continued by saying that some of the teachers are continuing to use old language and neglecting to call students out on their homophobic language.
While seeming to be completely oblivious of how offensive some of their language is, Kris says students exhibit anti-queer and through their non-verbal actions such as giggling at LGBTQ terms—which in my opinion is completely immature.
“When we look at creating safer spaces together – that includes using a sex-positive lens,” said Michelle Pettis, the SA’s community action centre co-ordinator. “Sex positivity includes understanding sexual health, pleasure, autonomy and well-being as a basic human right. All should have the right to show consensual affection without fear of violence – and dirty glances can also be a form of violence.”
College is supposed to be a place where everyone can get a quality education, and where everyone should be treated equally regardless of your culture, sex or gender preference, but school is not place for PDA.
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