Imagine in 20 years time looking back over your class photos, picking out mates, people you didn’t know and then the guy with to colander on his head. I’d love to have a time machine to see where this story from todays NZ HeraldNZ Herald goes. Briefly, a student has claimed his school breached his human rights by not allowing him to wear his religious headwear (a colander) for school photos, he is a Pastafarian.
Pastafarianism is a thing – a legitimate religion; therefore, he should be entitled to follow his chosen faith but the school probably didn’t know what to make of it when he showed up with his shiny colander. Because on the surface, a kid turning up to school with a kitchen utensil on his head, does not fit the common understanding of religious headwear right?
I am curious about Pastafarianism and it’s ‘mocking approach’ of religion. For example the name of their church, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so I am wondering how other students from other religions feel about this guy getting all this publicity regarding his rights.
I still think it is important for young people to challenge rules and maybe people should not be too concerned about his future. It reminds me of this clip from Zeitgeist Moving Forward. Jacque Fresco has never been scared to challenge the system and has started a global movement (The Venus Project) because of his ability to challenge ideas.
While I respect his right to practice his chosen religion I’m not sure if the violation of his rights is worthy of a complaint to The Human Rights Commission, I don’t know his argument is ‘meaty enough’. I’d like to see him approach the Board Of Trustees and request a uniform review and perhaps consult with other religious groups in schools who have worked through these tricky issues. If he as committed as he says he is he needs to submit a proposal like everyone else.
Finally Religious persecution is a thing he might need to get used to. If he is a devout Pastafarian his faith should get him through the tough times. He simply needs to return to the sauce of his beliefs and feast on the goodness it brings.
Today I talked with four different young people about some pretty big stuff. Three guys in a row were trying to figure out how to talk to family about what there were going through. One had already tried and had been told they were ‘wrong about themselves’. Another had shared parts and the third was wondering about how to ease Mum and Dad into the bigger picture.
Seeing a counsellor at school can be pretty daunting, so it was really great when one guy said ‘wassup bro’ as he left in a friendly acknowledgement to the other guy waiting to see me. It was a simple transaction of recognition that left me feeling at peace and sad that others might be out there without a support network.
The thing is I’m working at an ‘all girls’ school and these guys are all on their own unique journeys of gender identity but all of them see themselves as male. It is interesting listening to what their main needs and concerns are about school, compared to what I hear teachers and parents sometimes naming as the ‘big issues’. Sometimes they overlap but I’d like to share just a couple of simple things that have come through generally from school students. This is by no means a checklist but might help as a starting point:
- Understand that how someone identifies in terms of gender/sex does not determine their sexuality. Who people are into might change, it might not. There is no ‘formula’ for balancing it all out into some kind of common expression.
- Asking personal questions about people’s bodies and ‘parts’ and whether they are going to have (or have had) surgery is not cool – neither is trying to ‘feel’ what’s down there! Looking up horror stories online and sharing can be traumatic and upsetting. Asking what pronouns or names people prefer is a more respectful and easy way to show acceptance and support. You can also look at supporting someone to talk to a GP about options, for example, getting onto hormones that help the body change gears and become more like the preferred sex/gender.
- Recognise they are the same person so, if they come out as trans*, they do not get some other downloaded identity and show up the next day a completely different person. Keep calm and carry on what you talked about the day before – also respect their privacy – do not tell people unless they have said it’s ok – but I’d still be careful.
- Get some GOOD information – go to the RainbowYOUTH website or check out whatever local LGBT+ support services you have. Remember, if you go to overseas sites for information, it might not apply to New Zealand.
- Finally – for parents: Young people want to protect parents from hurt and upset, but they also want your support and it’s ok to be confused, not understand or not know how to respond. Something I encourage any parent to do is to notice the clues young people give about the sexuality or gender and not to dismiss them. ASK: ‘Are you questioning your sexuality?’ ‘Are you questioning your gender?’ Hugs are a good response and so are tears – hugs also allow you to talk while not looking at the person, a handy and often overlooked benefit. Get support, again RainbowYOUTH has excellent resources. Maintaining privacy is really important. In my role as a counsellor, one of the biggest differences to the well-being of young trans people is parent support, and there IS support for parents.
While big changes like bathrooms and uniform options are important, it is in the daily trans-actions we have with each other that respect and support are generated.
Have you ever sent or posted a picture of someone (possibly yourself) and then wished you could jump in a time machine and go back and tell your past self ‘nooooooo don’t do it’. What about someone hacking your account and finding those ‘awkward’ pictures then threatening to post them? Maybe you haven’t personally experienced either of these but I talk with lots of young people who have found the digital world can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to personal stuff.
I don’t think I have any pictures of me at parties as a teen. I don’t think I could have focussed the camera all that well while dancing. My youth is secretly stashed away in a photo album at my parents house, lucky me. But a lot of young people have very personal, intimate and what many older people might consider ‘private’ pictures shared online. Up until recently the law said very little about what made for offensive harmful communication online. We have finally caught up and there is a new Harmful Digital Communications Act that has been passed. I’ve also been chatting to the police a bit about what they reckon are some of the important ways young people can keep safe in the digital world. Here is what I think are the key points.
• Once you send an image of yourself to anyone or post it anywhere online regardless of your expectation of being private you lose control of that image – it can go ANYWHERE
• Your facebook profile pictures are easy to ‘take’ and use elsewhere
• If you send any picture of someone under 16 and they are naked, partially clothed – ‘sexualised’ it might be considered sharing child pornography – regardless of ‘consent’
• Taking pictures of someone in public while technically not a crime – if those pictures are used without someone’s consent it might be considered a harmful communication
• There are places you can’t film or take pictures because people might reasonably expect privacy (bedroom, bathroom, changing rooms)
• There are 10 points that make a digital communication harmful – it must not:
a. disclose sensitive personal facts
b. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing
c. be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the same position
d. be indecent or obscene
e. be used to harass
f. make a false allegation
g. contain things published in breach of confidence
h. incite or encourage anyone to send a message to someone to purposely cause harm
i. incite or encourage someone to commit suicide
j. put someone down (denigrate) for their colour, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability
I think it’s great that people’s right to dignity, respect and mana are being considered when it comes to our online lives. But having laws probably wont stop all harm, just like having drink drive or speed laws doesn’t make the road safe. If you do get stuck or are not sure what to do, talk to someone at school or contact netsafe. They can guide you as to what to do. If you know someone is feeling stressed or worried about any of the above support them to get help coz we can all make mistakes right? I really like this website ‘share this instead’ as it gives some great ways to respond if someone is putting the pressure on to send nudes. Check it out.
I like the grandparent test myself – if you wouldn’t want your grandma/kuia or grandpa/koro to see or read it then do not post it!
Most New Zealand secondary schools have a uniform of some kind or other. They have evolved over time (thank goodness) but they essentially do the same thing – identify students with a school and are way to ensure discipline. Some might say they help foster pride and help ‘erase’ inequality. Another idea is that wearing a uniform helps prepare people for work where you might have to wear the same thing every day. Uniform doesn’t stop there though, hair length and colour can be ‘uniformed’ as with jewellery and make up. A lot of schools will have a boys and girls uniform or if you are at a single sex school, more than likely you have one uniform option.
So where did the idea for school uniform come from? I’ve done a bit of superficial research on the history of school uniforms. Essentially they came about to bring ‘order’ to perceived chaos in English schools but quickly became a way of showing educational status through what school you went to. The Blazer evolved to give status to Public Grammar schools as they emulated private schools. Read More…