Discrimination on Campus


Why it’s not all sunshine and rainbows being openly LGBTQIA+

Imagine you decide to go out and have fun with your friends one night. At some point, you go to the bathroom, and when you do, another person in there makes unwelcome comments based solely on the type of people you are attracted to, or because you don’t dress like people of your gender stereotypically should. Would you feel safe, or would you avoid going out to places where the way you’re treated is defined by who you are?

It’s 2018, and the reality described above is sadly based on a real-life situation written about anonymously in the Xaverian Weekly’s last issue. The individual was confronted in the bathroom of the pub for being gay, and homophobic slurs were directed towards him and his friends later that night. Perhaps, in light of this incident, the StFX community should question whether we are truly a Xaverian family that is inclusive of all our members, including those who are LGBTQIA+.

Of course, the obvious solution for experiencing discrimination or feeling unsafe during a night out at the pub would be to simply not go out. After all, alcohol lowers inhibitions, so there’s more risk of an altercation if you’re visibly LGBTQIA+ at a bar. However, telling those in the LGBTQIA+ community to stay home for their safety causes further marginalization, instead of addressing the causes of discrimination like homophobia. Everyone should have a right to be in public spaces, day or night, without being in danger due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Photo: Facebook @KentMacDonald

Photo: Facebook @KentMacDonald

How members of the LGBTQIA+ community dress or physically look can put a target on their back on campus as well. Deciding to wear nail polish, earrings, or having short hair can potentially out a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Those changes in physical appearance are minor compared to the changes that transgender people undergo, like hormone replacement therapy and other surgeries. Especially on a campus with a strong party culture that tends to subscribe to gender norms around physical appearance, not conforming can easily become a safety issue or a trigger for discrimination.

In addition to the incident at the pub, there was a string of discriminatory comments made by Joachim Kane on an announcement of the StFX Ceremonial Flag Plaza posted on Dr. Kent MacDonald’s Facebook page.

Due to the permanent installation of the pride flag, Kane left comments such as “X ‘needing’ to fly that freak flag is cow-towing to socio-sexual fashion.” Members of the community quickly made it clear that the comments were unwelcome, with MacDonald responding that his posts on social media were meant “to help celebrate the Xaverian spirit...to pull the community together...not tear it apart.”

While the rate at which the comments were shut down is a sign of broader community acceptance of LGBTQIA+ members, the comments themselves show that there is still work to be done. The traditions of a Catholic campus linger, evident by Kane readily using “traditional Christian values” to defend why a pride flag shouldn’t be flown. Those tensions with religion are something that LGBTQIA+ members often struggle with, especially when accepting their sexuality. Even though the permanent installation of the pride flag signals a general acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, it won’t change the minds or behaviours of all.

In light of recent events, it’s clear that StFX might need to have a discussion about discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community on campus and what changes can bring about more acceptance of its members. After all, members of the LGBTQIA+ community aren’t asking to be privileged and protected at a higher standard than everyone else, but for the chance to live a life where they can dress, act, and love who they want in a way that reflects their sexuality and gender identity.

If you would like to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, or are experiencing discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, the following resources are available:

X-Pride Society: xpride@stfx. ca.

Human Rights and Equity Advisor: http://www2.mystfx.ca/equity/.

StFX Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisor: https://www. facebook.com/gsdsastfx/.