The mass shooting at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando USA, has likely stirred many conversations. I wonder how we make sense of these sorts of events here in New Zealand. The thing is, while I can imagine the terror of being at the venue, I can’t comprehend that level of violence based on some form of fear.
It’s important to keep perspective and recognise our own judgements and assumptions. Three communities are in the spotlight: the LGBTQI+ and Latinx communities; and those of strong religious faiths, particularly Muslim and Christian.
So we might not have the kind of violence other countries seem to experience, but maybe we have other forms of violence that do not get recognised. Like making groups of people ‘disappear’ so they don’t exist.
When I talked to a bunch of counsellors recently, some of whom worked in schools, they shared with me how Principals do not see LGBTQI+ students as needing any form of recognition or place of safety. Some schools seem concerned that acknowledging this community existed would potentially bring protests from parents or others.
Uniforms forcing young people to fit specific gender roles also stop diversity being expressed and, if you want to identify as something other than your assigned sex, then you have to submit to the violence of a psychiatric diagnosis.
So – no mass shootings in NZ, just mass ‘shooings’ – like, “Shoo, you pesky rainbow people, you are messing with our perfectly heteronormative, gender defined image.”
But right now my thoughts are with the LGBTQI+ community in Orlando. Sending messages of support could be a way to bring visibility to our own community and discuss the other forms of violence going on in our schools.
Let’s also open up discussions about religion. I think schools need to do this because pretending people ditch their beliefs at the gate closes down opportunities to look at the complexity of identity.