Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ze, Hir, and Hirs

Safe Spaces- August and

While reading Safe Spaces, I often reflected at the breaks and though of my school, and what exposure I had to LGBTQ issues, I could not think of a single example.  Though I remember one student from high school who was openly gay, that was it.  I do not remember learning about gay rights activists or the LGBTQ communities.  I do remember when Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997.  I do remember the controversy over that, and how people were shocked and could not believe she "played" such a good straight person.  I feel like now-a-days there are constant media reminders of the different types of lives that people can lead.  Shortly after DeGeneres came out, Will and Grace started on NBC.  Now we have a variety of shows and media that represent LGBTQ people and issues: Modern Family, Glee, Orange is the New Black, Shameless and the list goes on .  I feel that times are changing, but that is not enough and we still need to part of the solution, and help put an end to the prejudice, "Making schools and communities welcoming to LGBT youth."

There is still a very large Global Divide on Homosexuality .  As of 2013, 60% of people in the US said that society should accept homosexuality, with countries such as Canada, Spain, Germany, Czech Rep. France, Britain and Italy having rates as high as 88% saying yes to acceptance. US is second in our percentage gain since 2007, with an increase of 11%, demonstrating that we are ready for this change.

We need to think about how we "shape attitudes and ideologies" (August, pg. 83).  I enjoyed how the chapter was broken into two section curricula and communication.  August shared examples and remedies for starting the conversation and continuing it.  I especially connected to the communication section, on page 96 the pronouns Ze and Hir were used, at first I thought it was a typo, but then I read on and noticed they were used again, and I realized it was intentional.  I looked up Ze and Hir and found out they are pronouns along with Hirs that are not gender specific.  It is our responsibility to educate ourselves so we can help educate the youth on these exact types of instances.  ( I also took the time to make Google Doc and Word "learn spelling" of both Hir and Hirs).

As a I read though and watched some videos I thought to myself, how and where can I bring this into my school, my Catholic school? Can I discuss LGBTQ issues at school? I don't like the idea of teaching through tolerance, because I don't think that tolerance is the right word.  It should be more understanding, accepting not tolerating.  I will continue to role these thought around and I would love to hear back from you all about how I could approach LGBTQ at a Catholic school.


  1. Jenny,
    Teaching in a Catholic school, does present a challenge to the idea of addressing the LGBT issue. The church clearly teaches "love thy neighbor" and "treat others as you would wish to be treated" however falls short in their treatment of LGBT individuals. Recently the church has made efforts to teach that individuals who are LGBT are to be respected, and deserve justice and to be treated with care:

    but I don't think their efforts go far enough. I found it interesting that you commented on the use of non-gender based pronouns, I had heard these used, but found your links edifying in detail. I think there are a couple of ways for you to approach this in your situation, first, be willing to have open conversations about it in class, but lead them as inquiry rather than from a viewpoint of authority, second, talk to your faculty and administrators about how they suggest these topics be handled, this doesn't mean you need to adopt what they say, but it will give you a clear read on where they stand, so at least you will be informed moving forward. We need to have the uncomfortable conversations not only in class, but with each other.

  2. Jenny - As you mentioned, growing up and attending Catholic school K-8, I didn't hear much about LGBTQ issues. It wasn't until college that professors/group leaders/people I knew were open about it. That's when I first heard of gender neutral pronouns too. And, though I wasn't a part of it, a group of my friends pushed though a gender neutral housing option on campus. It has been really awesome to be so close to so many advocates and see the inclusive possibilities for world!

  3. I also found your conversation about non-gender specific pronouns intriguing. I agree with you that it is our responsibility to teach ourselves as much as possible so that we are aware of those types of words and how they are used. As far as how you could bring LGBTQ issues into the classroom in a Catholic school, I am unsure. I do believe, as Brian also suggested, that the church is moving forward. However, I also know that they have a long way to go. Maybe you could start by structuring some word problems to revolve around family configurations. Then, obviously, you could include different types of families in those examples. That might be a subtle way to introduce it in the classsroom. See what kind of conversations it sparks and go from there!

  4. Yes! I, too, looked up the ze, hir and hirs when I came across them in the text. I like some of the ideas you all have come up with...Jenny, that is a very unique and delicate situation to be in as a teacher...I used to teach CCD to young children, and I don't know how I might have introduced different families without getting backlash from certain parents (because there are always parents that complain about everything). Can't wait to talk more about this later today.