Friday, 10 December 2010

A losing battle?

A key aspect of The Justin Campaigns work is to challenge the negative stereotypes around LGBT people in society and in particular, sport.

Negative stereotypes that portray gay men as weak, effeminate and promiscuous are all to common in society. They are perpetuated throughout our education system, our industry and our media.

Is it really possible to counter negative stereotyping around LGBT people effectively? How can we impact upon the problem adequately when the exposure of our youth to these stereotypes is an everyday fact of life, one that we seemingly have no control over?

One solution might be to engage our youth with more positive representations of LGBT people that reveal our diversity and our strengths. Positive representations that reveal the contradictions that exist between the stereotype and the real person.

But are one off classroom sessions enough?

Does the occasional football coaching session, where young men & women are introduced to gay and bisexual coaches, contrary to familiar stereotypes, help to the debunk entrenched ideas about who gay and bisexual people are?

Possibly, but what happens afterwards, when our children turn on their computers or their TV's, go to the cinema, read the paper, a magazine, a book....

Is all our hard work undone?

The fact is that these stereotypes, the building blocks for hatred against LGBT people in society, are pervasive throughout our media. A media which relies on the heterosexual logic of its audience to provoke laughter at the expense of LGBT people.

Collective efforts to educate children on the fallacy of such stereotypes are welcome and should continue but these efforts need to be combined with proper strategy and actions that hold our media to account on their portrayal of LGBT people.

Perhaps then, after engaging our youth on the pitch and giving them a run for their money we can rest assured that they head home to some positive reinforcement rather than the negative portrayal of LGBT people they face day after day.

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