That’s the title of a new book by Simon Fraser University criminology researchers. The book warns that this serious epidemic should not be limited to being addressed only by occasional awareness campaigns. It’s great that their providing this resource for teachers, students, and parents alike that I’m sure are all searching for guidance and support during a very stressful time in parenting and being a kid.

Rebecca Haskell and Brian Burtch, the researchers, asked 16 gay youth to talk about their experiences with homophobia and the solutions they feel can help deal with homophobia and bullying in schools. An excerpt from the book reads:

“We asked each youth about the nature of homophobic and transphobic bullying (i.e., types of bullying, frequency, who was involved, location), and the effects the harassment had on them. Participants were asked to hypoth- esize about possible causes ofHTP bullying and to suggest ways to prevent such bullying in high school. We also asked volunteers to share their positive experiences and outcomes.”

Haskell says:

“Homophobic bullying occurs daily in high schools and can have a devastating impact. Our efforts to counter it must likewise occur throughout the year—not just during an annual campaign.”

With that, the authors of the book, “Get That Freak: Homophobia and Transphobia in High Schools,” recommend that teachers, parents and “anyone else wanting to reach out and support queer youth” strive to:

  • Create “safe spaces” (such as Gay-Straight Alliances) for students to gather and share experiences
  • Ask youth what they need and lend a listening ear if they want to talk
  • Recognize and intervene in the classroom and beyond school boundaries when comments are intentionally hurtful
  • Expand the definitions of what constitutes gender-appropriate behaviour

Haskell says the book “gives voice to positive stories as well negative ones. We heard many examples of things going right: a teacher who intervened, a Gay-Straight Alliance that offered support, or an accepting family. We wanted to challenge the familiar idea that these youth are helpless victims.”

Sounds like a great book!