The following is an excerpt from a group chat between members of the FAZ Pilmeny Youth Group at the Pilmeny Youth Centre, a centre that provides social, educational, and recreational activities for local children and young people aged from toddler to 19 years in the Lorne area of Leith and Caroline Gibb (EaRN Development Worker). Here is what some members had to say about equality.
Caroline: Hi this is Caroline from the Equality and Rights Network, and I am here with the FAZ group from the Pilmeny Youth Group. If you could just go around and say your names.
Alfie: My name’s Alfie and I like Nike clothes.
Joe: My name’s Joe and I like Adidas clothes.
William: My name’s William and I’m the Scottish champion at tae kwon-do.
Matt: My name’s Matt and I like football.
Sal: My name’s Sal and I like … clothes.
Caroline: Excellent thank you. So, thanks very much for joining us for this podcast. I’m just going let you guys talk for a few minutes, and the first question, and you’ve been thinking about this already because we’ve just done a lot of photos of this, is ‘what does equality mean to you?’. So who would like to start?
Alfie: I’d say equality is like thinking about how everyone is equal and there is no segregation or racism or anything like that really.
Joe: Everyone should be the same.
It’s like how you shouldn’t disrespect someone just because of their skin colour or because they’re gay, you should just think about their personality and that.
William: People shouldn’t be saying stuff to someone, even if they are fat or something, you don’t have to say that to them. They’re the same as you, so you shouldn’t treat them differently.
Caroline: Do any of you feel like you’ve ever been treated unequally or you’ve been treated differently to other people?
Many: Yes, sometimes.
Alfie: Well I used to have long hair, and everyone used to … me for that.
William: I get called fat most days, people will come up to me and call me fat or something, just go away.
Joe: I get called midget like 24/7.
Caroline: So how do those things make you feel?
William: Self conscious.
Joe: Well sometimes it is funny, or sometimes it isn’t.
William: Yeah, sometimes it’s a joke.
Alfie: It’s not normal when people say it as a joke, I don’t think much of it.
Joe: I don’t really care, even they aren’t having joke, it just doesn’t really bother me.
William: It used to bother me when people first started calling me fat, but now I just assume they’re having a bad or something and they need to take it out on someone. So now I’m just like ah so what, just deal with it.
Caroline: Do any of you think you’ve ever treated someone differently?
Joe: Maybe for a laugh, but never intentionally.
Alfie: If somebody was annoying you maybe.
Joe: Like if William were annoying me I might call him ‘fatty’ or something, or if I was annoying him maybe he’d call me midget, but it’s not serious we’re just having a laugh.
Caroline: But seeing as you both just said you get called that a lot.
Joe: Aye but it’s never bothered me, like I just didn’t care. I know people do get affected by sorry stuff like that, but I just don’t really care and I don’t think he cares at this point.
William: You grow with it, you don’t-
Joe: I’ve always been small, I’ve never been the tallest person in the world, and even if I get called other stuff it doesn’t bother me.
William: Yeah it’s the same, I’ve never been skinny or that and I’ve never been like super super fat, but I’ve never been skinny or anything I’ve just dealt with it.
Alfie: And I always had long hair.
Joe: Until it just got a wee bit too long.
Alfie: It would just got caught eh?
Joe: Only place you can see that haircut now is YouTube.
Caroline: Do you all go to the same school?
Caroline: And do you think there are any issues at school around equality?
Joe: Oh aye, there’s loads of people bullied for it. Well they don’t get bullied, but sometimes people mean it as a laugh, but people take it badly. There are groups really involved in that, but we just have a laugh.
All: Like the goths. Aye, goths get affected, they get stuff chucked at them.
Joe: Cause there’s a big thing at our school, I don’t know, goths are just seen as weird, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s good to be different but at the same time…
William: You see someone walking down the corridor with blacked out eyes and you go like say ‘goth’ or something behind them. Like you see people getting treated badly if they have autism or something, but it’s never our kind of group, it’s other people in our year.
Caroline: Anything else to add to that, were you gonna say something Sal?
Sal: Aye, there’s like different groups in the school, like you get goths and then-
Sal: Aye, and they sit in different bits of the school.
William: There’s like YLT and YLS.
Alfie: And then you get like a lot of drama people and that.
Joe: Aye the wee drama guys, and then they all speak in the same sort of voice.
Caroline: So last question, you’ve said you see people at school getting treated differently and you’ve all felt you get treated wee but differently for different reasons, or you’ve seen unequal things happening, so have you ever stepped in or spoken up?
Joe: I remember this time I was at the chippy, and there was this guy that worked there and then there was another guy who was foreign. He had just moved I think, and he didn’t really understand English that much, and then he came back and he was like really flustered and confused because he didn’t know what to do cause he didn’t understand the address and what the guy had said to him. And then he just told him what to do, and then when he left, the guy who worked there was like ‘ah stupid foreigner’ and that and talking about him behind his back about how he’s stupid and quite useless, and I said ‘you shouldn’t be talking about him behind his back’.
William: I’ll see people slatin’ people and that as a joke, but sometimes it goes a wee bit far and you’re like ‘right, stop now’ and they don’t and you’re like ‘stop, it’s going too far’. Like some people keep taking it further and further, and sometimes someone will go for someone and fight.
Alfie: Just depends on who you’re saying stuff to. Like some people are alright about it, and some people you know that you shouldn’t say anything.
Joe: Cause we live in a- I don’t know how to say it- a really cheeky sort of area, so everyone just gets cheeky with everyone. So most people are used to it, like Leithers and Lochenders, they all just get cheeky with each other so no one is really bothered by it. But some people it does bother, and that’s how you get fights and that.
William: Or see if someone is having a joke in class and then someone goes ‘oh are you taking that?’ and you’re like ‘aye’ and then yous are still having a joke and they’re like ‘right you should fight’ and you’re like ‘ nah nah we’re not fighting’. But then afterschool everyone crowds around you and you kinda have to fight sometimes.
Caroline: Before we finish up, does anyone have anything else they want to say about equality or inequality in general?
Sal: I think that if you, for example, have a disability you shouldn’t have extra opportunities or extra leeway or stuff like that.
William: Aye, just cause you’ve got something wrong with you, like maybe you can’t walk or that, you should be allowed to go up the lift or something instead of having to get out and get a special machine up, but you shouldn’t be guided by someone the whole way through your life. If you get turned down from a job and you’re like ‘yeah but I can’t walk’.
Alfie: Well that’s wrong.
Sal: I mean like, for example one time ….
Alfie: Aye, but he’s not stupid though, he’s smart.
Sal: I know but he’s got autism, and one time he got angry and swung for someone with a hammer, and it skiffed his head but if he had connected with him it wouldn’t have ended well. And the teacher just said ‘don’t do it again’.
Alfie: Aye but that’s different though, you don’t have autism.
Sal: Yeah but he knows the difference between, he should know that you shouldn’t be swinging hammers at people’s heads.
Alfie: We’re doing something about autism in English, and people with autism don’t understand other people’s emotions.
Sal: I get that, my cousin’s got autism, but if my cousin mucks about or does something like that…unless it’s properly severe, he knows the difference.
Alfie: How do you know that?
Joe: Yeah you can’t know that.
Sal: Cause I’m in like every class with him.
William: There was someone in my class and we were just having a joke and then he hit me on the back of my head so I tapped him to the body and then he pure slapped me to the back of the head. Pretty much he did pretty much everything, but I’m the one to get in trouble because apparently I started it.
Joe: You never, he smacked you on the back of the head.
William: Just cause he lies about saying ‘oh this and that’ and he can’t take a joke, it doesn’t mean you should lie to get out of trouble. He said that he didn’t hit me on the back of the head, and like I literally tapped him and he pure slapped me on the back of the head and that, and I’m the one getting in trouble for it.
Joe: What the thing is about that is like, see at start if you convince yourself, see if you commit a murder and that after that you convince yourself it’s right, after you’ve started you think you can go back but there’s no going back and you just have to keep going, but then you’ve got your conscience and that…So if you convince yourself that you’re right you’re going to keep going. And he just lies to get out of stuff quite a lot and now it’s at a point where…
Caroline: We’re just going to finish it there unless anyone has one very important last thing they want to say,
Alfie: Yeah, in my class once, it was in Science, there were these girls who were sitting and they were like holding hands or something, and everyone started laughing and then one of the girls went out crying. I just thought that was just terrible, and then everyone got in trouble and I just think that was bad. You shouldn’t be laughing at people.
William: There’s a girl, well not a girl, a boy, but she went to my primary and now she’s transgender and people were slagging her for that, and I was like ‘don’t slag her, that’s her decision’. I might have an opinion on that but I’m going to keep it to myself because that’s her opinion, that’s her decision to change to transgender so just keep out of it.
Joe: Is it really even a decision? It’s like you’re born in a different…like you’re born and you feel like a lassie trapped in a laddies body. It’s not like a decision, people say it’s the same with being gay, you don’t just think ‘you know what, I’m going to be gay’.
Sal: No but you can, like she, he, could have fed up of being a girl, or you ca get people who for their whole life they’ve been ‘I like football, I like all the things that boys like’.
Joe: It’s hard though, I was watching this thing about this lassie, well, yeah lassie who was transgender, not sure if a lassie or a laddie cause they say they’re non-binary and they don’t like getting called ‘he’ or ‘she’. Like what are you meant to call her, ‘it’, cause that’s just not right. What are we meant to call you, ‘they’? But sometimes that just not the right grammar.
Caroline: I think it’s just whatever they want to be called, that’s what you call them. Excellent, I think that’s a really good point to end on, so thank you very much.