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English all-boys school myth debunked...


Chris James

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http://www.pinknews....oarding-school/

I went to an all boys school until sixth grade, but we were all too young to have any conversation about homosexuality. But that was then and now things seem quite different. Perhaps the topic was treated differently in the upper school, but we never found out.

Sixteen is such a trying age, and to be gay must seem like the world presses a foot down on your neck demanding submission. Attitudes like this author expresses are not totally shocking, but completely disturbing. He must look forward to graduation like no other achievement is worth discussing. What a shame.

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Watched the recent Bond movie Skyfall. There's a scene where bond is tied to a chair and the villain is stroking bond's chest and making gay innuendo. Eventually he says something to Bond about this being his first time. (i.e. with a man) and Bond's reply was "What makes you think this is my first time?"

In my mind, immediately, I responded to the screen, "Bond went to Eton. Of COURSE it's not his first time!"

Guess I bought into the myth.

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That article was written by a 16-year-old who's been to one boarding school in Wales. I doubt his expertise in what he's talking about. Certainly he speaks from the heart about his own school. But to claim knowlege of all British all-male schools?

I don't know if they're bastions of male-male sexual congress, but I have to think some of that goes on, somewhere. Isn't this what Britain is famous for?

:redface:

C

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Cole's absolutely right. No doubt this particular school really is bad. But, while I can't quantify, there are plenty of other boys-only schools in the UK where homophobia is outlawed and the reasons why are explained. My impression is that on average they are better at this than comprehensive schools. And the fact remains that UK universities are generally good in this respect. Most (all?) have thriving LGBT groups and counsellors supported by both the university itself and the student's union. Why the difference between the two levels of education?

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Watched the recent Bond movie Skyfall. There's a scene where bond is tied to a chair and the villain is stroking bond's chest and making gay innuendo. Eventually he says something to Bond about this being his first time. (i.e. with a man) and Bond's reply was "What makes you think this is my first time?"

That scene brought down the house in the theater I was in. I agree, it wasn't done as a homophobic remark; Bond practically winks at villain Javier Bardem.

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My experience of British Boarding School is forty years out of date, and no doubt today's schools are better (they could hardly be worse), but in my day there was a lot of same-sex activity going on, none of it acknowledged even by those involved, and the climate was rabidly homophobic. The worst thing you could be called was queer.

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But remember that there was a whole spectrum of schools, and no doubt there still is. In contrast to Bruin, my experience of British boarding schools is sixty years out of date, and at mine there was hardly any same-sex activity going on, and never once did I hear a hint of homophobia. But if practical sex was more or less taboo, talking about it was not. Not salacious talk, but the talk of adolescents trying to be sophisticated and grown-up. Some of it was a pose, almost a fashion. People might say, “God, I’d like to bed that new boy with blond hair!” But they did not. It was mere talk, not only of sex, but of love too, idealised, almost a reflection of medieval courtly love. It seems to me that the more oppressive the regime imposed from above, the more bullying and hole-in-the-corner sex flourished; and the more liberal, the less. That certainly fits my own school in the 1950s, where the atmosphere was open and authority ruled with a light hand.

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Could it be that a person might percieve there to be no sexual activity because they aren't part of it? 25 out of 50 boys might be getting it on without telling the other 25.

It's like with international espionage. If you're doing your job as a spy agency really well, no one knows your country has a good spy agency. I brought Bond into this conversation, so it's fitting to acknowledge that the best spies look like boring ordinary people with no glamour.

The only way to guage the extent of sex in a place like a boys school would be anonymous exit surveys to build a statistical picture. I'd be surprised if that doesn't already exist somewhere.

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No, I don't think that holds water. In schools where sex was rife, everybody knew it was rife. If it had been at mine, everybody would have known. My own circle knew of very few cases; and others who were there then, to whom I have talked in later years, agree. And if it had been rife, many more "offenders" would have been caught and expelled. As it was, only five were expelled over five years in a school of 600. That's not many. Even if five times that number had escaped being caught, it's still not many. Schools where it was rife might see expulsions in double figures per year, sometimes well into double figures. And a culture of sex seems to go hand in hand with a culture of bullying; but in our case there was virtually no bullying either.

As I said, there was a wide spectrum. It was remarked at the time that if the sodomy laws were enforced, Eton and Harrow would be half empty. And that, having spoken to Etonians - who did know all about it - I can well believe.

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This seems an excellent topic for a story. Salacious doings at school, then expulsion. Then what? How does a youngster overcome that? Is he marked for life, or only if he allows himself to be? My impressions is there are a lot of stuffy parents in Enland who don't want to be known as the parents of a gay boy. Maybe that more restricted to the very upper and lower classes. Whatever, it seems a fine story could be written about that. I'd immediately feel sorry for a boy who gave in to his impulses, thought he was in love, wasn't made of stern stuff to stand up to his parents, and was canned. What's he to do?

C

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