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Tim McCaskell

Title: Challenging Homophobia at School

Session presenters: Tim McCaskell

Organization: Anti-homophobia Equity Coalition

Contact information: tim_mccaskell@hotmail.com

Brief description of workshop: Workshop participants explore a paradigm that can be used for understanding and analyzing homophobia.  They then explore strategies and action plans they can use in their school environments.

Strategies used:

  • Participants begin by describing examples of homophobia/heterosexism they have experienced in school settings and these are mapped on the power triangle, categorizing them as dominant ideas, individual actions and systemic/institutional practices.
  • We then discuss different kinds of work and strategies are necessary to challenge each of these areas in participants’ teaching environment.
  • Finally, the group develops a step-by-step plan to guide their practice in their new schools. This usually involves, analyzing the new school environment, identifying allies, classroom management strategies, legal considerations, dealing with incidents, identifying resources, and integration with other equity work already occurring in the school.

Two key resources that support our work:

Toronto District School Board Equity Foundation Statement and Implementation Documents. (2000).  The Equity Foundation Statement and the Toronto District School Board’s five Commitments to Equity Policy Implementation express this Board’s commitment to equity. Equity education and practices are the best long-term strategies to achieve an inclusive learning and work environment. It is essential that this Board’s teaching methods and management practices support the values embodied in this document.

TDSB Anti-Homophobia Education Resource Guide. (2006).  This resource guide on anti-homophobia education and sexual orientation equity offers instructional strategies, curriculum connections, programs, presenters/speakers, performances, community organization contact information, titles of print and video resources, and websites to educators, administrators, and school communities of the Toronto District School Board.

Issues which we continue to struggle with in our own pursuits of educational activist goals:

Communicating the structural impact of neo-liberal attacks on public education on the ongoing work to provide equitable schools.

Next steps (E.g., Supports [theoretical or practical] that may enhance our ongoing or future practice):

I feel that there is at present an adequate theoretical foundation and practical materials to advance this work. The major support required is mobilizing the political will to implement what we know works.

“Big idea” that we want people to walk away with:

Equity work is not just a matter of introducing new curriculum. It is a political struggle within the school site and the broader education system and must be approached in a clear-headed fashion that draws upon the experience of other political struggles for social transformation.

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