Jer’s Vision returns to Guelph
by Christina Davies
Jer’s Vision Media Team
Jer’s Vision will be making a comeback in Guelph on May 8th to speak to students and provide anti-heterosexism workshops for teachers at John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute.
This visit marks the organization’s second event in the area within the span of a month, after co-presenting the student-led Ontario South Rainbow Coalition Conference in conjunction with the Upper Grand District School Board on April 9th. Jer’s Vision founder and director Jeremy Dias said the conference left students feeling empowered to make their schools safer places. “We found that clubs (like GSAs) walked away with support and ideas to run activities and make their schools better.”
The workshops for educators on this visit will focus on eliminating heterosexism in the classroom, where all too often a heteronormative view of the world is the only one students are exposed to. “Heterosexism appears everywhere in curriculum, from history to geography, even math and science. Examples in math tend to only include heterosexual examples, and that can be really isolating for LGBTQ-A* youth,” says Dias. “It is important that anti-homophobia/transphobia education be more than just looking at stopping bullying, but understanding of LGBTQ-A* culture, community, history, art and contributions.”
Meaghan Mazurek, teacher at John F. Ross and staff advisor of the school’s GSA, is looking forward to the workshops and says it’s important that staff are conscious of their choice of words and actions when it comes to making sure LGBTQ-A* students are made to feel included. “A lot of teachers aren’t aware of things they do in the classroom that could be non-inclusive,” she says. “It’s so essential to the survival of some of these students in terms of their mental health. Especially in high school, which is already a rough time, it’s important that they feel included.”
John F. Ross Collegiate is a school committed to supporting LGBTQ-A* issues, according to Mazurek, with ongoing anti-homophobia initiatives in recent years, as well as having founded one of the earliest GSAs in the region. This upcoming visit from Jer’s Vision is one more step in that direction, and she and Dias hope these workshops will open educators’ eyes to biases within the curriculum as well as perhaps some of their own. “Inclusion is a great start, but sharing LGBTQ-A* stories and making curriculum inclusive is deeply needed to making things better now,” says Dias. “I think we need educators to go beyond the classroom, and even look at extra-curriculars. Addressing homophobia and transphobia in sports and community activities is so important.”