Usually, I keep this black ceramic coffee mug in the reading support room, but today I brought it along with me to one of the sixth grade classrooms when I went to help the teacher facilitate a writing assignment for JA Biztown (…
I have this one! It was a Christmas gift from my parents and is one of my favorite mugs; when I was still living at home, working on lesson plans and assignments in the living room, Dad would bring it in filled to the brim with his own coffee concoction that included more espresso than I probably needed.
It’s in retirement until I’m back in an educational position. Feels wrong to use it for the time being.
It’s an interesting point to bring up in the higher education classroom, and I’ve been thinking on this for at least the past hour in the back of my head.
I really do feel that a professor still has some responsibility, if not to teach (though I believe they do in fact have a responsibility to teach, despite what I’ve seen in some of the lecture halls and classes I’ve had to attend myself), then to create an environment in which students can learn.
I don’t believe that an environment in which the classroom or group discussion is hijacked by a majority of students who claim that a female character’s own actions led to her rape is an environment in which all students can feel comfortable expressing their own opinions. There may be a vocal few who stand up and say “That is an absolutely false or unfair idea,” but in the middle will be students who leave the classroom with a sour taste in their mouth and a churned stomach.
So what tasks does this delegate to a professor? If not teacher, then perhaps at least moderator?
Another example — I was in a relatively small writing class in my first year of my first college (I later transferred in part because my subject interests changed, and weren’t available there, but in part because too many of my courses were 100-to-300-student lectures during which professors used powerpoints that came with the textbook, and absolutely nothing was gleaned from attending the lecture that wasn’t by reading the textbook; books are cheaper than tuition). One of the readings was on rape culture, feminism, and sexism.
The writer insisted that media was to blame for rape culture because men could not help themselves around women once they saw them half-naked on billboards, and strongly suggested that all men in general were just biologically predisposed to be rapists and needed to be shielded from provocative advertising.
It was a predominantly female class. All of the women in the class except for myself supported the article loudly and enthusiastically in class discussion, and the men were either unsure of what they could say, afraid to say it, or so embarrassed or disgusted that they didn’t want to say anything — they were just biding their time until they could leave. When I spoke up it was expected that I was going to be in agreement, and when I criticized the writer, the article, and these ideas that men were all rapists and all women were potential victims, all incapable of having any power over their own fate, the next ten minutes of class was an attack and defense situation.
The professor called on people to speak, but never leant her own comments. For the entirety of that unit, I was almost afraid to speak up, because every time I did I was met with a hoard of angry voices declaring I was not a feminist, that I was on “their side,” and that I was wrong, ignorant, or shouldn’t speak any more. After the unit, at least three women in the class no longer spoke to me. Speaking to the professor after classes yielded nothing more than that made good points in class. It felt like both a responsibility and a burden to speak, because when I didn’t, no one else did — not even the professor.
Maybe this is a forced introduction into the “real world,” where unpopular opinions can lead to shunning and aggression. At the end of the class, everyone got a postcard from the professor’s collection, and mine remarked that the image was of a “strong woman, just like you!” It was a nice sentiment, but didn’t make up for one of the most uncomfortable courses of my academic career.
On the other hand, when we discussed perceptions of and barriers faced by LGBTQ individuals in my Adolescent Pschology II class, the professor had a slightly different handle. He too let it fall primarily to student discussion, calling on people to speak, sometimes letting us regulate ourselves — it was an even smaller class than the writing at the other school and we were familiar enough with one another to fall into respectful patterns of sharing. Then, somehow, the conversation turned to several students in the class swearing that literature and research backed up the idea that gay men were most likely to be pedophiles, that the AIDS epidemic was primarily the fault of the gay community and was a good thing, etc.
The professor stepped in, pointed out some faulty logic, helped divide (or tried to help divide) the fact from the opinion for students who cited one as the other. Students on both sides had to concede some things — it wasn’t a matter of a liberal agenda or the forcing of opinions on others (actually, the professor is a devout Catholic who helps oversee, at a local institution, who does and does not advance from their studies to the priesthood).
I felt awful at the end of the class, but I wasn’t dreading going back, because I felt like the professor was taking some kind of responsibility for making it a place where anyone was welcome to learn. He didn’t give his own opinions on the matter, he didn’t silence anyone, he didn’t tell anyone they were wrong — he simply noted that some things were actually factually inaccurate, misconceptions perpetuated by a popular culture of misinformation. It wasn’t a debate class, it was a class about fact and theory — and when opinions got in the way of either of those two things, he believed it was his job to clear that up.
And I am of the opinion that even higher education students need that. So maybe it isn’t a matter of preparing other educational materials, or even giving students additional resources, when it comes to a higher level of learning — I concede that. I’m used to the responsibilities of Elementary and Secondary Ed, and of being a general advocate for marginalized groups in environments where what needs to be resolved is a lack of information. On the college level, students are supposed to, to some degree, be able to learn for themselves — though one should still keep in mind that everyone comes in at different levels.
Maybe it’s just a matter of being sure to moderate discussion, as would be done in any good debate at any age, to be certain that people know the difference between good information and misinformation, opinion and fact, and to be sure that conversations do not become so inflamed that learning cannot happen.
I agree with this post only if she is speaking about high school. Once a student gets to college, they ARE expected to educate themselves. In college, students are expected to be self-motivated and exploratory, and be able to bring up suggestions in class when they see a gap in the professor’s thinking. I have issue, not with the topic this post deals with, because she is absolutely correct, but with the level she is pointing it to. I’m not going to make assumptions about her daughter, because if the topic of rape is so disturbing to her, then obviously there is some other issue at hand that needs to be dealt with on a personal level that I am certainly not going to judge on.
However, in college, just like so-called “real life”, students need to be self-advocating. No one is going to be careful of their feelings or troubles unless they happen to be a nice person. So if something a professor says in discussion or lecture comes up with holes, like here where their wasn’t any sort of rape victim advocacy, then it is up to the student to bring it up at that time.
Now, it sounds to me like in this particular situation, it was the student who emailed the professor, to which I applaud, but there are SO MANY parents out there who are still hovering over their students in college the way they hovered in high school. Remember that Alexander the Great wasn’t even 20 when he began one of the greatest military campaigns in history. If we start to treat our teenagers as adults, they will begin to act to act like them. A parent’s job (I’m saying this as a teacher) is to bring a child up to be a successful adult in society and give them the tools they will need to DO IT BY THEMSELVES. By college, unless there is some overwhelming issue, parents should not be involving themselves in their child’s academic affairs…they should be dealing with it by themselves.
One more example, before I step off my soapbox, I have a friend who didn’t know she was supposed to file for income tax because her parents always did it for her without telling her about it. So she turns 18 and moves out, and two years later, she gets a notice from the IRS saying she will have wages garnished and faces heavy fines for not filing. She never knew she had to do anything. THAT, my friends, is irresponsible parenting under the guise of good parents “just helping their kid out”.
it’s a poor idea to leave it to the students to figure them out and react to it as they will, with no guidance. New and complex issues should be dealt with as thoroughly as possible both in the context of the literature at hand as well as that of the students’ experiences, society, and sometimes…
These are a lot of very good points, though I might disagree with a few of them. Though I will clarify one thing — she has been advocating for herself, and for the subjects of these topics, tirelessly, and is just exhausted. She isn’t even sure what to do in regards to bringing it up to the professor, because it seems she has to do so with everything, all the time.
As for self-education…yes. Higher education means that students are supposed to be taking an initiative. But if it was entirely self-driven, we wouldn’t need professors. With some topics, even the adults of the world are still ignorant — whether willfully, or because those topics are so muddied by prejudicial thinking and popular misrepresentation that it takes a vocal minority to help people “know better.” When it comes to things like victim-blaming and trans rights, if we allow people to educate themselves, they may well find more misinformation than anything else.
Certain topics require students to step out of their own shoes and into someone else’s. Many people don’t even have that capacity, psychologically, until their twenties, and it is something that, for many people, has to be taught. So I agree that in college, students need to be self-directed to a degree, but I do not agree that there is so little responsibility on the professor to teach. And that has nothing to do with who’s involved in this particular situation, that’s just my own soapbox.
No, as a matter of fact I'm not technically old enough to have a daughter in college.
I have two daughters — one who calls me Mommy, and one who calls me Daddy. They are both college-aged women.
I am twenty-four.
So how does that work exactly?
Ball culture (drag) in major US cities involves houses, headed by house mothers or fathers, and are comprised of bands of “children” who drag and compete together under the house mother or father’s mentoring. When I was in Arkansas, my housemate was “mother” to three different young men, one of whom was actually older than he was. Rather than based on age it was based on the age at which they came out, or joined the house, or made their way into the “scene.” They came to him for advice about everything from drag to dating to family problems, called him “mom” or any variation of such they could think of, and even bought him balloons and cards on Mothers’ Day. He did their hair, he helped them shop for clothes…on a few occasions he brought them in for a night when they had nowhere else to go, and I know he’d made them sit-down-at-the-table-together dinner at least once.
These are families of their own making. When people don’t have the family they need (whether that family is literally missing, or unsupportive to the point of alienation), sometimes they find it on their own.
Ours is not a drag house, but the concept is the same.
When presenting difficult topics in classroom literature,
it’s a poor idea to leave it to the students to figure them out and react to it as they will, with no guidance. New and complex issues should be dealt with as thoroughly as possible both in the context of the literature at hand as well as that of the students’ experiences, society, and sometimes pre-existing prejudices.
My daughter (not biological, nor long-raised — I will explain in another post) is in a class in which the professor, a well-meaning and forward-thinking woman, has tried to breach the subjects of rape, victim-blaming, and sexism through the literature she uses with her college students. It went poorly, and led to tears of frustration from my daughter. Only through a concerned check-in email to and by the suggestion of this student did the professor then add some sort of rape survivor advocacy education component.
Now, they are dealing with literature in which a character is transgendered. As my daughter feared, it is going terribly. Students won’t even use the proper pronouns for the character, and conversation in her group escalated in such a way that she began with trying to explain why this was not okay and ended being told that she was “too angry” and that if she “went in with [her] guns blazing, [she’d] never get anywhere.” The professor was with another group when this conversation occurred.
If you are going to use literature to bring what you believe are necessary topics to the classroom, I commend you. But you need to be prepared. You need to educate your students on the topics you’re discussing, and help them approach them in a manner that is open to learning rather than dismissive, prejudicing, and damaging. So far, the professor in question has tried to do a wonderful thing in her classroom by trying to bring issues like rape and trans rights onto the radar of her students, but without any background component — and now, she has little to no control over the discussion, which has since incubated victim-blaming, “slut-shaming,” and trans-bashing.
Please, please, I never want to discourage anyone from trying to do a good thing, from trying to educate their students, but please educate them. Do not expect them to educate themselves, and do not expect them to come to you ready and willing to talk about very difficult and/or controversial topics in a constructive way. Take the lead, burn the trail, do a pre-lesson on the issues, invite an outside resource, have a discussion beforehand with the class, a moderated discussion.
Lessons take preparation. You wouldn’t talk to your students about mixtures before they knew about forms of matter. Talk to your students about the context of controversial issues in a piece of literature if you’re going to use the book.
(Note, this is not a matter of a personal grudge because it involves someone close to me — I am just genuinely horrified to see these issues being handled the way they are in this classroom from the stories I’ve been hearing.)
“As a social worker, assume that EVERYONE has strengths - it’s our job to help them discover and build on those strengths.”—
- My Social Work 300 lecturer.
I’m not sure why, but this just really stuck out to me when she said it in class. So much so that I wrote it down in the margins of my planner. I just liked how she emphasized that EVERYONE has strengths, everyone, and as social workers we have a job to help people realize and strengthen their strengths.
If you want to do something about bullying RIGHT NOW,
check out the White House facebook page. There’s a thread dedicated to explaining why the White House has gone purple today, and in that thread are several remarks encouraging violence against LGBTQ people. Maybe by the time you get there, they’ll have been deleted. But if they haven’t been:
Click the ‘x’ in the upper right hand corner of the comment.
Choose ‘Report Abuse…’
On the bottom half of the menu, choose ‘Hate Speech’
In the drop-down box, choose the option mentioning gender and orientation.
Check the ‘Report to Facebook’ option.
Imagine being a bullied teen or once-bullied adult checking the comments on this thread to find people literally trying to incite violence against you. In or out of schools, by students or adults, this is bullying, and it is the destructive and pervasive sort that extends beyond our classrooms and beyond our halls into the media and the internet, where anyone can continue it and anyone can view it.
Take a stand.
Remember — make it count. Don’t flag posts as hate speech just because you don’t like what they say. Reserve reports of abuse for legitimate abuse, so that we don’t water down the protections that are in place.
I have no idea why posting personal posts on LGBTQ issues on here still makes me so nervous sometimes. It’s a little like opening up on a whole different level. Things from the personal side generally do not make it over here — two different sides of my life.
relevant repost of something from the personal blog: "a note on another suicide"
Warning: Blunt and brutal honesty.
I am getting very weary of people treating LGBTQ youth suicides as an alarming new trend. This has been happening for years. LGBTQ individuals make up 10% of the population but approximately 30% of youth suicides, and that is not a number that has drastically changed over the last decade.
This is not a sudden explosion. This is not an epidemic. This is a long-standing and systemic issue that some of us have been trying to fight, or been part of, or seen the devastating effects of, since we were in middle or high school ourselves.
Think about this:
LGBTQ youth may face bullying that they cannot find protection from in less tolerant areas. Either they may be brushed off, or they may be ostracized by adults as well.
LGBTQ youth may risk outing themselves by trying to talk about some of the same thoughts and problems that could drive straight and cis-gender youth to the same suicidal feelings, like relationship issues or not fitting into the social norms or groups.
LGBTQ youth may not be able to talk to anyone about abusive or emotionally unhealthy romantic relationships if they or their partner are in the closet.
LGBTQ youth may face alienation or abuse from family, which otherwise might serve as an important support system.
All of these factors and more may contribute to suicidal feelings.
Many youth face suicidal thoughts and feelings among certain age groups, but can make it through by having strong support groups. It isn’t that LGBTQ youth are naturally at a higher risk of suicide, or that society has recently set up to make LGBTQ youth kill themselves, though I’m sure that could be argued by some people.
It’s that we as a whole haven’t been paying attention.
The “rash” of LGBTQ youth suicides is going to keep happening over and over and keep shocking you and keep alarming you if you are alarmed now, if you were alarmed last year, and the year before that. Because it isn’t new. It isn’t a one-shot thing.
This happens every year.
This has BEEN happening every year.
Now, the media is picking up on it. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that people are paying attention.
But if all we can do is be shocked and alarmed, every time, nothing is going to change. Stop being surprised. Be horrified, be angry, be grieved, but do not be surprised. Do not continue to treat it like a new problem.
Acknowledge it, and acknowledge the issues behind it, and find ways to fight the systemic problems that make this happen.
This is, first and foremost, an education blog. On my personal blog, I tend to make posts about LGBTQ politics that may not have anything to do with education or, in a community of caring educators, would already be preaching to the choir. But where LGBTQ issues and education intersect, I post that here.
Now, I’ve posted something at the personal blog that is not specifically education-related, and is almost a rant except that it’s not. But I think that here, it would again likely be preaching to the choir. It’s in regards to LGBTQ youth suicide. The issue is, my personal blog is not something I would necessarily want directly connected to this one. That’s why I have this one.
So now I have to ask myself, how LGBTQ-focused do I want this education blog to delve into? Will it still be useful information for the educators that follow me? Will it attract people from the LGBTQ issues focus who might not be interested in education issues, and might follow only to be put off by lack of applicable content?
No amount of psych training will help me understand this.
Sesame Street’s youtube channel was hacked, and replaced with hardcore porn.
What horrifies me more is that, while searching the Sesame Street tag on Tumblr, I’m finding more people laughing and/or cheering the act than decrying it.
Really, what mindset gains joy over this? It isn’t a mild-mannered prank, and it isn’t as if it was targeted at some “deserving” group, corporation, or target. It’s Sesame Street. It’s a youtube channel catering to young children. I honestly cannot understand taking such mirth in crippling a free source of time-tested, beloved, worthwhile educational content. Was it to show porn to kids? Is that the source of laughs? Was it just to get the hackers’ names out there? Was it to shock and awe in the worst way possible? Why could they not have picked a different target?
Usually I find the psychology of the internet fascinating, but I just can’t get a grasp on this one.
Well, it depends on what you’d like to do there. For one, never discount the basics of tenacity, flexibility, networking, and effort. If you really want to work for the UN, from what I understand, you’re going to need to build up a strong resume that showcases indispensable skills.
Knowing where to look helps — whether it’s to volunteer and get some experience or to find job listings. If you find a position that matches what you want to do, research. Look at the job listing to see what the position requires: do you need a special degree or certification? Does it require fluency in another language? What kind of job experience are they looking for? This will be the first step in knowing what to do next.
As with any highly competitive job, I would also highly recommend pursuing internships. Their available to graduate students, so depending on where you are academically (high school? undergraduate? graduate?) you may have some time before you can apply — but it’s definitely something I would bookmark if you’re really interested in United Nations employment.
(Man, after all that happy research it would really be a shame if this was a bot.)
Never flee the state before you finish your paperwork.
Finally got on the phone with the woman in the teacher certification office at my college. Apparently there was a piece I have to do on my own, an account thing online, because everything is done digitally now, before I CAN fill out my paperwork.
(Embarrassed admission: this whole process has been incredibly confusing for me and at one point made me doubt my ability to teach.)
Thank you oh alma mater for helping me through the process. When it comes to this, their largest program, I say “The Personal College my foot.” If you are becoming a teacher anytime soon, never, ever trust your program to give you all the information you need. That is not to say that they won’t, and that they are bad programs — it’s just important to be your own biggest advocate.
So anyway I’m not the most savvy creature when it comes to certain online systems, but once I do this, I can call her up and set up an appointment back in NY during the week sometime to sit down and fill things out, and aside from the fingerprinting workshop, the only two pieces I’m missing can be done entirely online.
Then, then I’ll have my actual certification. And then I can try for a job a ways southward where I think there are still some left if you don’t mind avoiding certain colors and are not terrified by the remote possibility (remote!) of being stabbed. To that climate I say: taught there, dealt with that. Those are students that need a safe space and I am ready.
(But darnit, I wish I’d had the foresight to study Spanish instead of French and Japanese so I could work in Holyoke.)
I have never been so unhappy to be in one particular place as I have been today.
Upon learning we were supposedly helping to set standards and benchmarks for a community program we’re developing, I almost gained new enthusiasm. In fact, I ended up staying up late following exciting trails of research-based practices from article to article to help me make informed contributions in setting percentages on our benchmarks that had some grounding in research.
Up, ready to go, ready to get to work, ready to share and be useful. Handed over a copy of a grant application that needed to be looked over before I could submit it (they all have to go through our supervisor). Explained with great energy that I found a perfect resource. Listened to the supervisor somehow lead this into divying up point people, among myself and my other two coworkers, to contact to see THEIR research. Told him I also downloaded six or seven more articles that were relevant and could be helpful.
"What were they?" I was assuming he meant titles.
"I don’t remember exactly. [There were seven, with the typical long research article names.] They were all very useful, I’m looking them over again this morning to see what we can…"
"Well, enthusiasm is good, but we have to balance our enthusiasm with focus."
The Cox Charities has opened up their grant application for the 2011 year. For some reason they did so on October 10th with a deadline of November 11th, which seems a little sadistic to me, but if you have an education and/or mentoring program that could use some financial assistance they do give rather large chunks of money.
"Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and theVerizon Foundation have announced the launch of a new national contest for middle schools designed to help renew the teaching of civic engagement.
The contest, Civic Impact Challenge, involves using iCivics (an online education project that O’Connor spearheaded) to teach students civics, encourage them to learn about their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and learn and understand the workings of the U.S. government.
The Civic Impact Challenge contest is open to classrooms (grades 5-12) across the country. Classes participating in the contest can earn “impact points” by playing any of fourteen civics games that are part of the iCivics curriculum. Games cover such topics as civil rights, how a bill becomes a law, and the role of local government. The class that earns the most impact points between October 3 and November 30, 2011, will win a VGo telepresence robot and receive a virtual visit from O’Connor.
After the contest, students can donate their earned impact points to benefit a variety of community projects run by other youth, connecting their classroom civic education to real-world civic participation.”
This looks so cool — I wish I still had my students right now. You all will just have to do it instead and I’ll live vicariously.
I stumbled upon this one while looking for mini-grants.
TeachersCount is a national organization whose aim is to raise the status of the teaching profession. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Not only does their site offer a listing of grants for teachers, it also offers a wide variety of supports and resources for teachers — as well as for prospective teachers, and for non-teachers who want to support teachers.
I was so caught up in grant deadlines and comfortable in the “Happy Valley” that I almost missed it, and thus I did you all a disservice!
But there is still time to acknowledge today with your students and staff, even if it’s just a passing comment that opens up dialogue later on.
National Coming Out Day was first celebrated in 1988. It was organized in order to create a positive celebration of coming out as LGBTQ when the prevailing attitude surrounding the community was still…significantly less than positive. October 11th was chosen as the date in order to commemorate the second march on Washington, DC for gay and lesbian rights (at the time a narrower scope, focused more intensely on immediate needs like attention to the effects of AIDS on the gay community, but we’ve progressing since then to include other sexual and gender minorities). This 1987 march drew over half a million people, and the momentum continued for several months afterward and birthed several major LGBTQ organizations, many of which still survive today.
National Coming Out Day helps to create safe spaces for people of all ages to come out to themselves and to others about their sexual or gender orientation.
Coming out can be a harrowing experience even in a very supportive environment, and the aim of National Coming Out Day — in regards to our roles as educators, youth workers, peers, mentors, or any kind of support system — is to educate, listen, support, and speak out.
What can you do today?
Well, one of the simplest (and for many, the most frightening) suggestions tends to be this: come out. But for many people, this is not a step that they’re ready to take (or able to take safely), and that’s okay. No one can put a time stamp on when you or your youth are ready to talk about an intensely personal and often complex issue like sexuality and gender, and for teachers there are a whole host of complications. If you feel safe, go ahead — if you feel unsure, take the time you need. Some people never “come out” to certain people in their lives and, while Harvey Milk may disagree with me rest his soul, that’s okay.
What’s important is creating an environment in which people feel safe and comfortable enough to be who they are. Doing so all year round is a matter for a whole other post, which will happen. But today, to give it a start, you might:
wear a rainbow ribbon to prompt conversation and show acceptance
post a “safe space” poster or sticker on your door, board, or in some other visible spot in your classroom, office, or school at large
find an opportunity to start a conversation about LGBTQ issues and acceptance — for some this might be as simple as “Does anyone know what day it is today?” while others might pick up on issues they’ve noticed in previous conversations or in the hallway (derogatory words, gossip, etc.) or work in the context of a classroom lesson or activity that allows it (literature is rife for these, for example — Oscar Wilde is a staple and also rather famous for his unfortunate treatment and subsequent demise)
Or, if you want something a little more hands-on and intense, try a “Secret Share”
This is one of my favorite Coming Out Day activities, which can be used any time of the year that you might be discussing what life is like for LGBTQ students. You need to know your students to be able to facilitate this activity, as it has the potential to get very personal and, in some cases, very emotional. You’ll need pieces of paper for each student, and a whiteboard, chalkboard, SMARTboard, chart paper, or other such thing.
Consider PostSecret: people send their secrets into a website/art project anonymously on a post card. This begins with a similar activity: have students think very hard about a secret that they’ve never told anyone before. Let them know that no one will see them, if the students don’t want anyone to. Have them write it down on a piece of paper, fold it, and seal it.
Ask students who feels like they could stand up, right then and there, and share their secrets with the class. Give it a second to sink in. Talk about what even the prospect of sharing those secrets feels like, and why. Record it.
Now offer the students an option: does anyone feel like they could share with the class? What would they need from the class, in order to feel safe? Record it.
What’s stopping the students from creating this environment in the classroom, every day?
And what happened if these secrets were something they felt they had to hide, every day?
This can be a very good window into what the closet feels like. And on the college level, we host a “coming out of the closet” for any of these secrets — first, offering people the chance to own their secrets aloud, then putting them all in a box and reading them aloud anonymously.
We’ve had a few people actually “come out” as LGBTQ from that box. There’s always more than one. And at the end of it, some come away with a new unsettled empathy — and some come away feeling lighter knowing it’s out in the open.
And if someone does come out to you today:
Be patient and understanding; don’t rush or assume what they’re going to say. This is a nerve-wrecking process, and can result in a whole spectrum of emotions.
Use the terms they use (as long as they’re not self-degrading, like “fag”), whether it be “gay” or “lesbian” or “homosexual” or “trans” or “like a (opposite gender)”. If they feel uncomfortable using any term in particular, you can use vague terminology too — like “different” (“It’s okay to be different” was a lifesaver for me). Just make sure you don’t use anything with negative connotation, like “weird” or “strange.”
Thank them for trusting you.
Reaffirm that your relationship with them has not changed in any negative way. Some people choose to tell a person coming out to them that they see them as strong or brave, positive changes, but that varies by person and might not be appropriate in every situation.
Know your limitations. If you genuinely don’t think that you can handle the subject of a student, peer, or other individual’s sexuality or gender orientation without prejudice, do not condemn them or criticize them. Instead, after the above steps, try to direct them to someone who might be a good mentor for them (in a positive way — “Do you know who might really be a good person to talk to about this? Mr. ____.” — without letting them know the reason). Don’t add pain to the process by being judgmental or negative.
Do some research. Try to find out more about resources for the other person, whether it be a local PFLAG chapter, an afterschool club, or a good book. Learn more about LGBTQ history, rights, and issues.
Listen. Listen. Listen.
Stand up against anti-LGBTQ bullying if you haven’t been already. This might be the fuel you needed.
Other good resources:
Safe Schools Coalition has an excellent resource center for teachers of all subjects and grade levels, including sample curriculum for National LGBTQ History Month (October).
HRC’s Coming Out Day page includes downloadable literature in PDF format both for those coming out and for allies who want to support those coming out to them.
Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth's Coming Out Resource Guide, a piece of their National Coming Out Day Awareness kit, was my first concrete resource in talking about the spectrum of sexuality and gender. It's too late to get the kit for the day they've marked as National Coming Out Awareness Day — the 12th, rather than the 11th — but they may have extra copies of the resource guide available after fact. The Coming Out Day campaign is described under the “Safe Schools Initiative” link on the sidebar, as well as a variety of other programs that might give you some ideas for your own schools and communities. This organization is local to Long Island, NY, but you can look for your community LGBTQ organization for local resources.
I realize I’m pretty late to the party on this but can I just say that !!!!!!!!!
Now they just need to get it off the ground by the 2013-14 school year so I can teach in Cleveland.
WE. DON’T. NEED. TFA!
They just let go of hundreds of teachers last year — now they are going to go to TFAers? That’s not right. They are not long term solutions for kids who need teachers for the long haul. TFA was supposed to be used to staff hard to staff places — CLEVELAND HAS TOO MANY TEACHERS! That’s why I had to move to Florida!
If Teach for America was so concerned with the state of education,
they wouldn’t be pushing teachers out of schools to replace them with well-intentioned intelligent people with only five weeks’ worth of educational training
who are then encouraged to develop a plan for after their two years of service that may or may not involve remaining in their classrooms.
The whole situation makes me so irritated at the way this has become a sort of political self-feeding machine that that’s all I can manage to say on it coherently. And I am not hating at the program blindly — I applied, and made it to the final interviews, and did my research, and could not in good conscience become involved with an organization that may be systematically harming a system it is setting out to “fix.”
(Cue unpopularity, but these are my thoughts on the matter, which I will elaborate on if prompted specifically in case anyone sees this as a foot-stomping my-word-is-the-end-of-it sort of statement, which it is not.)
On my penultimate day with the kids I have come to think of as mine, I devise a review Jeopardy! game. They’ve been hankering for a game, I’ve obtained permission from their real teacher, and I think it’ll be a good way to focus the whole class’s attention on one problem.
The first few questions go by pretty quickly—the kids appoint their teammates who are doing best in the class to answer the $1000 point questions. But when we run out of those, the game gets contentious.
Perry, a popular boy with Elvis hair, comes to the stage. He’s friends with all the honors kids, but he failed the last quiz.
He stares at the Jeopardy categories—maybe not like his life depends on it, but like something important does.
“Go for $1000, Perry,” his honors kid friends tell him. “We’ll solve it for you.”
Perry stares at the screen again. “No,” he tells them. “I’m going to go for $200, and do it on my own. As a learning experience.”
My heart pretty much melts. I want to hug him, or assign him bonus points, or something. But I refrain, and reveal the question.
Perry’s teammates can’t hold back from yelling out the answer. But Perry eyes the screen slowly, and works the problem out aloud, until he answers it correctly.
It is a beautiful moment. And although it’s a tight game for the rest of class, and Perry put his team at a point disadvantage, they manage to win the game.
I’m reveling in it—until my troublesome last hour class rolls in the door.
It doesn’t take long for a heated rivalry to develop. The teams are neck-and-neck when, in a tense moment, one team correctly solves a problem through a tricky mathematical maneuver.
The other teams are disgusted. “Not fair!” I hear. “Bogus!”
What I need are there to be young adult, fiction books… that have males with eating disorders or males who get raped (by either females or males… that aren’t “my father/uncle/brother molested me” stories…). I can’t find them. I can find biographies of men who have dealt with eating disorders… but…
This is my “daughter”, and I’m always incredibly proud of what she does.
So if anyone knows anything out there that could help her out, I would appreciate it immensely.
There are two people (of more than two) from my alma mater that really changed my life: Dr. Suzanne Johnson and Elizabeth O’Connor.
I had never considered psychology until I took Dr. Johnson’s Developmental Psych course. These women are dynamic, intelligent, and took me under their wing for all manner of things, giving me the chance to help them with an article on lesbian mothers and a chapter about LGBTQ family law for a legal textbook; to write my own article on LGBTQ issues on campuses (which had been meant for a call for papers by Division 44 of the APA, but for a deadline confusion); and to see what a functional, LGBTQ-headed family looked like in practice. Before these two professors, I had never had any older LGBTQ role models — the only people I knew were my peers. It was profound.
I’ve met their teenaged daughters on multiple occasions and heard about one’s college search and the other’s foray into boys. I’ve cat-sit at their house for a weekend. I’ve spent as much time in the closets of offices in the psychology wing with them as I probably have with my students.
And last weekend, after over two decades of a committed relationship in which they have raised two wonderful children, THEY FINALLY GOT MARRIED IN NY. Because they finally could.
I just wanted to brag about that a little, because I was so very excited for them, we were back and forth on the phone when the decision was still being argued on the floor, and because now I can say that I know two of the coolest people in the world — and that they’re married to each other.
(If Mom and Dad are reading this — you’re also two of the coolest people in the world who are married to each other. Don’t worry, you’re not being supplanted.)
I can't find my two years' worth of compiled research articles on LGBTQ students, parents.
Searching my hard drive again.
Then checking every flash drive I can find in this apartment.
Then…starting from scratch if I have to, because this is important stuff. (Luckily I still have access somewhere to the bibliography I helped compile for Johnson and O’Connor’s last article, which has the bulk of it.)
1. I made time for me. Since my school starts classes at 7:25am, I’m up at 4am everyday. And I don’t get home until 4:30-5pm. I’ve almost fallen asleep in public so many times the past two month it’s ridiculous. So, this week I said no to furiously planning and grading papers after school. I…
I’m turning twenty-four in October.
I both can and cannot imagine the situation you’re in.
And I just wanted to know that I admire you so much, and that if there is anything I can do to help you, anything I can say or send you or help you with at all, please let me know. If you message me I’ll message you back. If you need someone to call for a pep talk I will give you my phone number. Because you are in one of the worst situations I’ve heard of in terms of learning to teach — and you are still there. You are still doing it. You are putting in a thousand times more than what is asked of you, and you are still staying strong.
Don’t worry that you cried. When I was student-teaching in my last full-time practicum, my cooperating teacher found me crying in the back room on break during solo week, and she essentially told me ‘Welcome to teaching.’ I don’t know a colleague who hasn’t cried at least once. Any teacher would have broken down and cried in your situation — and I know many, many teachers who would have just quit and found some other, easier way. But you haven’t quit, and that is what makes you so special and so strong.
I was so moved reading this. Everyone should read this, and give this woman some support. Go, go, go.