School plays a key role in combating homophobia, says expert

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Imagine this scenario: an 11-year-old boy is discriminated against and insulted at school by his peers for playing more with girls than with boys. What should parents do? What is the role of the school in this context?

In an interview with CNN Radio, the psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo, Daniel Mori, explains that, if the victim’s behavior changed after the aggressions – he is more introspective, more isolated, inattentive -, the first thing that parents should do is seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. “We talk a lot about depression in adults, but children and adolescents are also depressed,” Mori said.

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For the psychiatrist, parents and educators need to be careful in dealing with the problem. “We need to be extremely careful not to make the most classic mistake of penalizing the victim”. This penalty occurs when those responsible for the child ask the victim to change their behavior, for example, which can also lead to isolation and depression.

In the expert’s assessment, as well as the family, the school has a fundamental role in the fight against homophobia. Regarding the victim, it is necessary to help him with psychological support and guide the parents or guardians about what is happening. On the other hand, regarding the aggressor, “it is necessary to listen to the family [dele]try to understand the context in which aggression took place,” he explained.

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What cannot, according to Daniel Mori, is for the victim to be punished by the school. “I have seen cases where the child who was the victim of bullying was asked to withdraw from school because he was not part of the ‘school profile’.

In this case, the school is leaving a message and this is absolutely bad, when it should be the other way around,” he said. According to the psychiatrist, the school needs to make clear what its policies are to combat any type of discrimination.

“The child has to understand what the word diversity means in its broader concept, how we deal with people who are different from us. You have to make it clear, what are the words that we can use, which are not legal to use,” she said. “That’s school work, especially when it’s not done at home,” he concluded.

“Brazilian society is extremely binary, has very stereotyped behaviors of what is expected of a boy and what is expected of a girl. And it seems that any gender expression that goes in a different direction from the stereotype ends up generating a certain discomfort, while children and adolescents are in the period of creating, building identity, building their own tastes”, added Mori.

Source: CNN Brasil

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