Answers on behalf of Orlando LGBT+ by: Christianna Gennata, Mary Chioni, Elena-Olga Christidi.
Language creates and resonates realities, co-constructs spaces and exclusions. Changing the way I talk means that I am making room for experiences and identities, I’m respecting and supporting an essentially inclusive way to coexist. Political correctness doesn’t cause anybody any harm; instead it brings recognition, respect, relief and equality. I can’t possibly say that I respect the self-determination of a trans individual but then choose not to follow the name and pronouns that he/she/it/theyhad chosen for him/her/it/themself(ves). Political correctness doesn’t limit freedom of speech nor does it criminalise anything. This is why those who tend to speak against it are usually people in a position of power who don’t want to see other people share this power or have equal rights within the public sphere. We ought to admit that this doesn’t sound like a free and equal situation.
To start with, even in its current form, civil partnership doesn’t grant same-sex couples the same parenting rights as it does to heterosexual couples. For same-sex couples, it doesn’t include the right to child adoption, it doesn’t allow for the recognition of both people as a child’s parents, it doesn’t grant same-sex couples access to assisted reproduction services etc. So in any case, the terms of the civil partnership ought to change. Still, why isn’t it enough?
a) Because it’s not marriage and we shouldn’t have two-speed citizens: those who can and those who can’t exercise their constitutional civil right to marry (whether they want/ choose to do so or not).
b) Because LGBTQI+ individuals should be equal citizens in the eyes of institutions, legislations and the State.
c) We don’t have another reason to add, but rather an inversion of the question to the person who would ask it, directly and frankly: Why do you feel that it concerns you whether it’s enough for us or not? What is it that is troubling you?
Maybe the answer to this last question tells us more about stigma and stereotypes than the logical replies regarding equal rights listed above will.
Some fundamental elements of positive school climate are the feelings of security, visibility, openness regarding identities, inclusion and zero discrimination between all members of the school community. The reality in Greek schools seems to be far from the above and LGBTQI+ children experience direct and indirect discrimination, bullying (homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and interphobic), exclusion, disrespect towards their self-identification, mocking, hurtful comments as well as physical violence. In order to change that, we need to recognise the above as often as we can, both on a regular basis and on special occasions (eg. awareness events, special and international days, school projects, choice of appropriate school material, change of school books).
We need to embrace every child’s coming out at school and recognise that there are different masculinities, femininities and other social gender expressions as well as people who don’t feel like they wholly fit into either category of the man-woman dipole. We should also discourage outing (the disclosure of a child’s LGBTQI+ identity to third parties without their consent and permission). Schools should provide facilities such as toilets and locker rooms that are gender neutral in order to include all students or alternatively, students should be allowed to use the facilities they feel most comfortable in and wear whatever clothes they feel are appropriate based on their gender identity. Moreover, everyone should call them by the name they’ve chosen and use the pronouns they feel are appropriate in their case. All the above should apply to educators, families and school personnel.
It’s interesting how people seem to wonder “what kind of kids” a gay or a lesbian couple will raise and how will two fathers or two mothers be as parents. It’s like they forget that those same LGBTQI+ parents were children once and that most of them were born and raised by cis straight parents and they just had a different sexual orientation or gender identity than their parents. Despite such questions being raised by parts of society, science has long reached a conclusion. A child’s sexual orientation and their gender identity isn’t affected or defined by their parents or their friends. So regardless from the sexual orientation and the gender identity of their parents, we know that children of LGBTQI+ parents can have a regular psycho-emotional growth in the course of their lives, without differences in their psycho-social adjustment. The parents’ gender or their attraction towards one or the other gender isn’t what is negatively affecting LGBTQI+ families. What is making their lives more difficult are the continuous direct and indirect discriminations that they have to face in their everyday lives.
One of the biggest difficulties they have to face is the non-recognition of one of the LGBTQI+ parents by the institutions and also by society. This gap can create confusion and cause sadness to a child. If we raise children in a homo/bi/transphobic society and promote heterosexuality as the only possible or normal sexual orientation, how can LGBTQI+ parents and their children have the obvious: equal rights, equal treatment and recognition? Once again, scientific organisations aiming to support and recognise LGBTQI+ families, have already pointed out the protective factors and welfare conditions that all of us should bear in mind, whether we’re professionals or as individuals.
The awareness of the latest scientific facts and the support of LGBTQI+ parents and their children that can be achieved thanks to inclusion and acceptance, can reinforce identity pride and diminish stigma and shame. So next time someone says the usual “science hasn’t reached a verdict on that front”, you will know that this isn’t true. It’s just a false argument that conceals conservative points of view, discriminations and gender stereotypes. It is a shame not to be able to see beyond the pretext of normality or norms, while all the children, as well as LGBTQI+ parents need acceptance. Acceptance and love.
According to recent legislation (article 4931/2022 – Government Gazette Issue 94/Α/13-5-2022), such “therapies” are illegal for underaged and legally incapacitated individuals, when performed by doctors. Therefore they are criminalised for a small percentage of the victims of such abusive practices that are considered to be torture by the UN and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. But when it comes to adults, not only were they not banned, instead they were legalised by stating that they can be performed with the victims’ consent. This is like negating the fact that such practices are harassment per se and that many people may consent to undergo such procedures because of an internalised stigma that society has been imposing on them daily due to their identities.
Similarly, the criminalisation of such practices when it comes to underaged people, doesn’t include procedures performed by non-doctors (“alternative” or other therapists, psychotherapists, priests, religious groups etc.), so one could argue that those are free to carry on performing such practices. Countries such as Canada and France have proven that there can be legislative initiatives that wholly criminalise conversion therapies without gaps and of course without partly legalising them.