Education eradicates prejudice. Therefore increased education on LGBTI matters is needed in the curriculum of schools. Says a young girl who has taken upon herself to found a queer student organisation in a small fishing town in the south-eastern part of Iceland.
Earlier this month eighteen year old grammar school student Guðrún Ósk Gunnarsdóttir took a brave decision. Far from being an easy one in a school of a hundred students, living in Höfn í Hornafirði, a society of a little more than 1600 inhabitants, she decided to come out.
“I had known since I was twelve that I wanted to, but I didn’t have the courage until now,” says Guðrún Ósk. “The thought was terrifying, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. There have been a few glances here and there, but in general people have been supportive.”
Following Guðrún’s personal decision she decided to continue her bravery so she set up the first queer student organisation of FAS grammar school (i. Framhaldsskólinn í Austur-Skaftafellssýslu), in order to work against prejudice and increase education on LGBTI matters. There were only two founding members, including herself, but that was enough to start a discussion.
“What we want is to increase the awareness of queer matters in our school and in our society. We think it is absolutely necessary,” Guðrún says firmly. She adds that school authorities and fellow students have turned out to be both supportive and enthusiastic.
“I am sure that I would have come out much earlier, if I would have known what it would be like.”
In the past days a movement has been striking against school education on queer matters in Iceland, after local authorities of another Icelandic town, Hafnarfjörður, decided to add queer issues to the curriculum. Since then spiteful online comments, as well as on the radio, have left people speechless and sad. The events encouraged the two founders of the queer student organisation at FAS to speed the process of setting it up, in order to make it visible fast.
Guðrún is convinced that increased education is needed to eradicate the prejudice that still stands in the way of LGBTI people in Iceland.
“It is not common for people who live here to come out. They are too afraid and the public opinion can get really ruthless. Most of those who are gay usually come out after they have moved away. I am sure that I would have come out much earlier, if I would have known what it would be like. Not to mention if I would have had some role models to follow.”
She says that the increased education on LGBTI matters is needed in the school’s curriculum as well. “This year, we’ve only gotten one lecture on gay issues. We need more than that.”
Main photo (above): Guðrún Ósk, Sigríður Þórunn, Lilja Karen and Þórdís, members of the queer student organisation.