A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
My third-period students rushed in at the start of class, wide-eyed and excited. Something had happened.
“Quentin hit Ms. Combs!”
Helen Combs was my friend. She taught language arts. “He knocked her down,” one student reported. “They took her to the hospital, and the police took him away in handcuffs!”
Name-calling is pervasive in our culture. According to advocacy organization Mental Health America, teens hear anti-gay slurs approximately 26 times a day. Other anti-bullying websites such as Bullying Statistics.org cite name-calling as the most common type of harassment in schools.
Four years ago, we held our first Day of Silence, an annual event where students at schools across the country take a vow of silence in support of LGBT students who are harassed and bullied.
That first Day of Silence was an anxious experiment for our suburban private school. We followed resources offered by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Our diversity club faculty sponsors and student leaders planned a series of announcements, acquired administrative approval and fielded concerned questions from faculty members who didn’t embrace the event and felt it would disrupt their classrooms.
After the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel eloquently stated “never again.” Since he first uttered this compelling sentiment, genocides have erupted across the world—from Guatemala to Cambodia.
April was chosen as Genocide Prevention Month since the Holocaust, Rwandan, Bosnian, Armenian and Cambodian genocides are commemorated during this time. The commemoration began in April 2009 and combined genocide remembrance with prevention.
I don’t remember exactly what instigated it, but something had made Cashanda mad. She positioned herself—and her desk—right smack in front of the board. She was defiant. Her physical placement made it impossible to continue my lesson.
With mainstream media campaigns like It Gets Better and social media efforts to curtail harassment, how is it that another 14-year-old young gay man took his own life? Well, bullies are loud and persistent, and they are still everywhere.
I hear it now and then. It invariably comes after a long day in an elementary school classroom, a day that seems like a year.
"If I didn't have [student’s name], I could teach my class!"
You know the children who fill in the blank. They're the ones who stand when you ask them to sit, talk when you ask for silence and play when you need them to work.
Marvin is one of those children. He is 9 years old.
The whine of the projector subsides. Someone clicks on the lights. As the professor asks for commentary, the rapid raising of hands signifies an eagerness to respond. I remain still. Listening to my peer’s criticism of the Appalachian people featured in the made-for-TV special, I am humiliated.