LGBT Students at Hogwarts

LGBT Students at Hogwarts

As marriage equality sweeps across the United States, visibility of gay and trans rights is increasing, and it has made me consider what it would be like to a be a gay student at Hogwarts. Certainly Dumbledore and the rest of the professors would readily take any students, but which house would be most welcoming and safe for LGBT students? Would it be Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin to introduce gender neutral dorms or start a queer students support group? I will look at each of the houses and consider which might be best suited for LGBT students.

Gryffindors, always ready to fight the good fight, come to mind first when I think of social justice. Gryffindors are driven by strong morality, bravery, and daring – a perfect profile for an activist of any type. In characters like the Weasleys, Dean Thomas, and Sirius Black, we see Gryffindors’ determination to stand by their friends and face all kinds of adversity and danger in defense of others. Hermione’s stand against house-elf discrimination and Ron’s outrage at Draco Malfoy’s use of the word “Mudblood” are just a couple of examples of Gryffindors standing up against racism; defending students against homophobic words and actions seems like the next logical step. Gryffindor house is also home ot many underdogs, who later turn into heroes – just think of Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin, and Hermione Granger. Misfits throughout the series find a safe place in Gryffindor, and I believe it would be the same for any queer or trans student who attends Hogwarts, too.

Ravenclaw house is described on Pottermore as a place not only for those with a desire to learn,but also for those with creativity, an open mind, and a level of acceptance. Ravenclaw would be the perfect house for someone interested in educating others about LGBT issues or just hoping to find other open-minded individuals. Any house that would take Luna Lovegood would certainly be a safe place for non-conformists of all types. Being creative and intelligent folk, I imagine Ravenclaws would be the first to come up with charms for trans students wishing to transition and create resources and literature for queer students. Ravenclaws, typically introverted, would make good listeners, providing new LGBT students with guidance. Personally, I think Ravenclaws would also be the first to adopt gender neutral pronouns, dorms, and washrooms for students because they try to be accommodating and like to keep up with Muggle and wizard politics. Ravenclaw would be a great house for all non-conformists, including queer students.

Hufflepuff is easily the kindest and most accepting house – Helga Hufflepuff famously says she will teach any wizard ready to learn, and LGBT students would be no exception! Hufflepuffs are often noted not only for their gentle nature but also for their loyalty and good-hearted nature. Hufflepuffs would welcome all new students with open arms and stay loyal to their friends regardless of sexual orientation or gender. Unity and loyalty make Hufflepuff house an ideal place for a group like a gay-straight alliance, where students can meet and feel accepted and safe. Hufflepuffs are non-judgmental and like Gryffindors, tend to choose what is right over what is easy, which makes them a good candidate for being the most welcoming house for queer students. Hufflepuffs are also said to be “unafraid of toil,” which is a valuable trait, should queer students meet any discrimination at Hogwarts.

Although it may seem unlikely, I think Slytherin house would be accepting of queer students, too. Slytherins, like Hufflepuffs, are loyal to their friends, even in times of trouble (think of the Death Eaters’ loyalty to Voldemort and each other!). Slytherins are also known for their cunning and wise minds: Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, and Horace Slughorn are all notably clever and ambitious. These are important traits for queer students and allies alike sincetheir ambition and visibility in the school could make other students aware of LGBT issues and equality. Following Voldemort’s demise, Slytherin house would likely try to reform and make changes to who the house would accept, and welcoming queer students would help this cause. As well, Slytherins constantly defend their own: It’s unlikely someone would try harassing a young queer Slytherin with the prefects looking out for them. Although we might associate Slytherin with evil, many wizards throughout the series remind Harry (and us) that Slytherins choose between good and evil like the rest of us, and I believe many of them would choose equality.

Which house do you think would be best for an LGBT student?

  • Brandon

    Really, all you’ve proven is what was obvious to begin with: the traits of each house are not inherent to prejudice or discrimination. It’s a moot point in terms of acceptance. However, the post is good in terms of describing the different roles and approaches of each house in supporting and accepting LGBT students.

    I really don’t think you should be using the word “queer” to refer to them, though. First off, the true definition of “queer” is “strange” or “peculiar,” so it carries a patronizing, discriminatory tone. Second, it has long been used derogatively and carries a negative connotation close, but not necessarily equal, to the n-word.

    I’m not part of the LGBT community, so I can’t speak for them as anything but a fellow human being, but I am strongly against misusing a word that truly has nothing to do with the students in question of which you’re discussing. And of course, through repeated use of a negative word, the meaning can be changed, but one must clarify that and be aware of the history behind it.

    I know you meant it in a progressive, accepting manner; I’m just telling you to be careful.

    • Jon F.

      A lot of people within the LGBTQ community have reclaimed the word Queer and use it in that regard. That is why you see colleges and universities (at least throughout the U.S.) that have “Queer Student Associations.” However, many people from older generations still do hold a negative connotation with that word. For the most part though, I have seen it being used in a positive manner. It really depends on the individual and to question that is to question someones identity.

      • Brandon

        Very good point. As I said, the word can be changed and reclaimed in a positive light, but you have to clarify that.

  • Squish

    Thank you for the thoughtful article. I do think that Hogwarts as an institution, with its history of acceptance, would try to be a welcoming place for LGBT students, but I also think that trying to choose one house that would be best for those students unfairly limits the issue. As your analysis of the houses points out, everyone, regardless of their particular talents or skills, has something to contribute in the fight for equality. The question then, is not ‘which house is best for LGBT students’ but ‘which house is best for the individual.’ LGBT students are people too: brave, creative, kind, ambitious, and everything in between. One cannot just lump a group together because its members share a challenge, because those members are also unique. I think, therefore, that the best house for an LGBT student is whichever house best fits that student’s personality.

  • Emilee

    You are assuming that there are not LGBT students at Hogwarts already and that there is some strange magic that keeps them away. The Sorting Hat wouldn’t have any interest in what your sexuality or gender identification is. It places you in the house that you are best suited for, whether by traits or choice. It doesn’t matter how you identify yourself, but who you are as a person.
    As to what happens after the sorting, I can’t say. I would hope, however, that the houses would stick up for their own and that Hogwarts overall would be an accepting and safe place (as safe as Hogwarts can be.)

  • SpongeBob

    I like it :) Keep up the good work!

  • HPLOVER

    I enjoyed reading this! Hogwarts is one cool school :P

  • gritshax

    Dumbledurr.

  • charley

    well, just look where the sorting hat put Dumbledore.

  • Russ

    I’ve always specifically thought of Hufflepuff as gay-friendly. “I’ll take the lot, and treat them all the same.” I imagine people who truly embody the traits of any one of the houses would be accepting of fellow LGBT students, but Hufflepuff is the one that most stands out to me since the entire point of the house is that they treat everyone equally. In my headcanon I like to think that Helga Hufflepuff was an adorable mother figure towards LGBT students who came from unaccepting families. <3

  • Minerva Elizabeth Riddle

    We all know for a fact that Hogwarts has educated at least one LGBT student – Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore was openly gay (or at least some other people knew about it) and he was offered the position of Minister of Magic (which he turned down). As a longtime professor at dear old Hogwarts, his coworkers and members of the school board must have known his personal preferences. He was accepted, and many people held the sentiment that he was the best headmaster Hogwarts ever had. It seems as if the wizarding world was accepting of all sexual orientations. Therefore, I believe that all of the Hogwarts houses would have been accepting. That being said, if it came down to it, I believe that Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff would be the most accepting of the houses; Hufflepuff by virtue of accepting everyone (see the creed of Hufflepuff) and Ravenclaw by virtue of not caring about blood status or really anything else but one’s intelligence or creativity.

  • Iain Walker

    Good article, but let’s not neglect the negative traits of each House and see how they stack up.

    Gryffindor also has a tendency to produce arrogant gits like Cormac McClaggan and swaggering, self-righteous bullies – young James and Sirius being the obvious examples, although Fred and George cross the line a couple of times too. There’s a dark, macho side to Gryffindor’s virtues of courage and honour, which could make life very uncomfortable for any LGBT students.

    Ravenclaw’s tendency towards individualism also has a downside – remember how the much maligned Marietta was the only friend who seemed to stick with Cho after Cedric’s death? If I was an LGBT Ravenclaw, then I wouldn’t automatically count on my Housemates for emotional support. And as for your suggestion that “Any house that would take Luna Lovegood would certainly be a safe place for non-conformists of all types”, let’s not forget that Luna was bullied and friendless for the first half of her school life (it’s implied that prior to OotP, Ginny is the nearest she has to a friend). So there are obviously limits even to Ravenclaw’s acceptance of non-conformists.

    Hufflepuff’s dark side doesn’t get explored very often, but remember the debate over Umbridge’s House prior to the revelation that she’d been a Slytherin? There were several good points raised in support of the “Umbridge was a Hufflepuff” interpretation. A strong sense of group loyalty and a strong sense of justice (especially the retributive variety) as also traits of the Right Wing Authoritarian personality type, of which Umbridge is almost the perfect textbook example. And RWA traits have a strong correlation with homophobia and related attitudes. So while Hufflepuff may well be the most welcoming House for LGBT students in general, it may also contain some of the least welcoming individuals.

    Slytherin’s obsession with blood-purity should throw up a warning flag as well, since blood-purity ideologies also tend to be patriarchal and heteronormative (think of Nazi Germany’s persecution of gays and lesbians). However, Rowling has stated (in her post-DH two-part Pottercast interview) that she envisages old wizarding families like the Malfoys as caring far more about blood-purity than sexual orientation, so wizard purebloodism may be an exception to this rule. In fact, there may even be good cultural reasons why pure-blood witches and wizards may be even more accepting of same-sex relationships than the norm.

    Basically, the purebloodists care mainly about ensuring the “purity” of the line, which means that marriage and childbearing are going to be quite closely scrutinised to ensure that no Muggle genes seep into the line. However, since same-sex liaisons don’t normally result in children, this makes them ideal for pre-marital and extra-marital affairs – there’s no risk of compromising the lineage. Consequently, amongst pureblood families, bisexuality (at least) may not only be tolerated, but even encouraged. The possibility therefore arises that Slytherin might actually be the most LGBT-friendly of the Houses – but rather ironically, this might become less so as its pureblood heritage gets diluted post-Voldemort.

    None of this actually contradicts your general points, but I thought I’d stick my oar in and complicate matters.