Monday, February 27, 2012

Transcend the Classroom

Today, I participated in a Straight Talk. A Straight Talk is simply a panel of members of the LGBTQIA community who do exactly that; talk to you straight. No question is taken offensively and all answers provided by the panel are bluntly honest. The audience can be as politically incorrect as they chose because it is a learning experience. Members of the audience are encouraged to ask any question without hesitation. Some of the topics include politics, religion, gay marriage, and discrimination.

While I was up there speaking and listening, it was interesting to me how many "out" students had problems in middle and high school. Many of them talk about confiding in teachers (and an overwhelming majority of them were English teachers) but the students still felt hopeless. It was them against the world.

This will eventually impact a student's performance. She may feel unsafe and unwelcome in her classes. He may stop coming to school altogether. Sometimes events like these that transcend the classroom become something that we, as teachers, have to deal with. Below is the link to GLSEN's website (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). They have tons of information for educators, students, and supporters.

Even if you don't use it yourself, it may be a future resource that you can give to a student in need. Dealing with a situation where a student is "out" can be a sticky situation as parents, other students, and the administration all get involved. You might experience a situation such as this when you are teaching, but you don't have to go through it alone. Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing that link, Tym. With all the bullying that goes on in schools, many times it is related to students being labeled as "different." While I'm not suggesting that all bullying is related to a student's sexual preference or identity, we as educators have to help students realize that being different is not bad, weird, strange or odd. I think one of the ways we can do this is through the literature that we teach. I don't know about you, but I grew up reading almost all white, male protagonists...even in short stories. And I always resented it.

    In addition to providing services to students like the glesn site, what about teaching texts from a variety of writers, genres, cultures, etc.

    There is a fantastic short story, I think it's called, Am I Blue? It's about a teen boy who is gay and is struggling with his identity. He gets a fairy godmother who shows him the level of "gayness" that his peers, teachers, and even townspeople have, by the degree in which they're blue. He sees a teacher who is partially blue, but when he sees the bully who picks on him...the bully is very, very blue.

    I know I'm not being the most articulate here because I haven't read the story in a few years, but this post made we wonder....what if we incorporate literature from across the spectrum? Would that make students less "different?" or would it help students accept "difference" or would the word "different" not take on such a strong meaning?