Queerphobia is rampant at Pinole Valley High School, and something must be done!

The+Progress+Pride+flag.+It+combines+elements+of+the+original+pride+flag+with+the+Transgender+pride+flag+and+the+brown+and+black+stripes%2C+which+represent+Queer+People+of+Color%2C+and+is+intended+to+bring+awareness+to+these+often+erased+communities.
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Queerphobia is rampant at Pinole Valley High School, and something must be done!

The Progress Pride flag. It combines elements of the original pride flag with the Transgender pride flag and the brown and black stripes, which represent Queer People of Color, and is intended to bring awareness to these often erased communities.

The Progress Pride flag. It combines elements of the original pride flag with the Transgender pride flag and the brown and black stripes, which represent Queer People of Color, and is intended to bring awareness to these often erased communities.

Daniel Quasar

The Progress Pride flag. It combines elements of the original pride flag with the Transgender pride flag and the brown and black stripes, which represent Queer People of Color, and is intended to bring awareness to these often erased communities.

Daniel Quasar

Daniel Quasar

The Progress Pride flag. It combines elements of the original pride flag with the Transgender pride flag and the brown and black stripes, which represent Queer People of Color, and is intended to bring awareness to these often erased communities.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

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Today is National Coming Out Day, a day for celebrating the brave act of being proud of one’s Queer identity and to recognize the struggle of those who are unable to do so in their current situation or who experienced negative repercussions as a result of coming out. To some, Pinole Valley High School may appear as an open, accepting environment where people shouldn’t be afraid to come out, however, that’s not entirely true.

I’ve heard more queerphobic language around campus over the past month than I have in my entire high school career, and I’m deeply disturbed by it. Yes, I’m aware that there are queerphobic people at this school. I’ve had to encounter several over the three years at PV, but this year, it seems that people are more than comfortable being openly queerphobic around campus, and it needs to stop.

As a Queer person, I feel it’s my duty to take action against queerphobia and not sit back while my community suffers. Several weeks ago, I released an anonymous survey to the student body asking them a series of questions regarding this topic. Over 300 students out of 1,300 responded despite the link getting e-mailed out to all teachers. This is what I found:

The majority of those who responded were heterosexual, cisgender boys and girls. The term “cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. These students claimed they almost never hear queerphobic remarks made around campus. The Queer students that responded, however, reported they do, in fact, hear queerphobic remarks made around campus both directly toward them as well as other students. 30% of all students polled reported they hear these comments made multiple times a day.

Queer students are more aware of what comments are or can be considered queerphobic when we hear them. Non-Queer students usually don’t have to worry about being disrespected for their sexual or gender identity, and are, therefore, less aware of the situation. Queer students are better at recognizing queerphobia because we’re faced with it every day of our lives.

96% of all students polled reported these comments are being made by other students, while 4% reported comments made by a teacher or a member of the staff. Upon hearing these remarks, 73% did not take any action; 19% told their friends; and 8% told their parents, a teacher, or another member of the staff. If you’re reading this, and you were among that 73%, please don’t be afraid to report queerphobic slurs, and ignorant comments in general, to a teacher you trust, and to the staff heard making these remarks, shame on you!

In addition to the questions, I also left two free-response boxes. The first asked students to describe, in detail, the nature of the comments they hear. The second asked students to leave any additional information they feel would be relevant to this article.

As you can probably imagine, most of the responses to the first box described the classic scenario of straight boys calling each other “gay”, “f****t”, etc. In the second box, I saw a lot of comments excusing this behavior, saying it was all “just a joke” between friends. Well, guess what? It’s not a joke. These words, especially “f****t”, have been used to destroy and dehumanize Queer people. They carry a great deal of weight, and unless you’re Queer, you have no right to claim them.

I even saw several comments calling me these slurs, and while I’m truly flattered, it only further proves my point: Queerphobia is rampant at Pinole Valley High, and something needs to be done.

Another comment left in the second box offers a likely cause and perfect solution:

“I think the reason people say slurs and feel free to be openly hateful is because they are misinformed and have never had access to an honest conversation about LGBT people and their identities.”

The first step to treating ignorance is through education. People, usually, never have to encounter an openly Queer person until middle or high school. When they do, they don’t know how to interact with us. They don’t understand us, and so they’re afraid of us, and that fear and ignorance can easily turn into hate.

It’s my belief that all students at high schools across the country should be educated about Queer people and Queer identities. It’s vital and necessary, especially in a day and age when we are finally beginning to be acknowledged by society, and if you don’t think it is, then you’re part of the problem.

My name is Mason Montano; a gay, non-binary and genderqueer person and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community; and I approve this message.

October 11th is National Coming Out Day.