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I probably should have added in the video that I left high school after my sophomore year—I was not happy there—and enrolled in the Running Start program, which allowed me to finish my junior and senior years at Seattle Central Community College (without having to pay tuition).
If you really cannot bear high school, investigate other ways to finish your education: Running Start, early admission to university, etc.
Right now they probably see the world as straight versus gay because the "straight" kids who are picking on them make it feel that way. (Who knows how many of those bullies are struggling with their own sexuality.)
To hear that there are straight adults out there waiting to be friends and allies too can be a comfort. Afterall, look at how popular PFLAG is.
Rick Mercer (the Canadian equivalent of Jon Stewart) ranted in 2005 about bullies in high schools and how he'd like to say to these kids "after this (the days) get better. And then, they get great!"
Go. Watch. Enjoy.
I want to know: What can straight TEACHERS do? I teach in an urban public high school, and I want to know what I can do to be an ally to my LGBT students. I read these articles, and I see over and over..."Teachers and administration did nothing..."
I'm aware that one of my responsibilities would be to report bullying and abuse. Got it. But what other, subtle and not-so-subtle things could a teacher do to support gay students in a hostile atmosphere?
P.S. I'm looking for responses from former gay high school students...sometimes the things straight people think will help end up doing the opposite. As a gay high school student, what did you need from your teachers?
It is important that if you hear a kid saying "that's gay" you speak up in front of your other students and explain why that is offensive. As a former closeted gay high school student, hearing a teacher tell a student not to use "gay" as a derogatory term meant all the world to me. That teacher probably didn't know I was gay and the student used it to describe essay writing and not any person but hearing my teacher speak out against it was very important to me.
As a teacher you have access and the voice to educate other teachers in your school about their language and actions. You can speak to them in ways students and those outside of schools cannot.
Depending on the subjects you can expose your students to important gay/lesbian/queer writers, scholars, and other figures. It might seem strange but hearing my English teacher speak positively about Oscar Wilde made me feel better because I assumed then she would be queer-friendly.
Oh and see about starting a straight gay alliance group. If a teacher makes the request it will be taken much more seriously then if the group is requested by students. (Such a request was denied in my school in part because the school said no teacher would be willing to oversee it.)
I am sure there are other ways you can help and I hope other posters offer some more examples.
Thanks for asking.
"You guys got better at reading and writing and puzzle-solving and all kinds of other skills this year, and that's fantastic. But if you remember just one thing from this grade, I want you to remember this. Life is really great and there are more things to do than you could ever do in a life. But then other times, once in a while, life is not very fun for everyone. You may have a lot of advantages. But there will always be someone poorer, weaker, less popular, slower, or lonelier than you. Someone who may not have many friends. Your main job in life is to be nice to those people. Because they have hopes and dreams and feelings just like you. And maybe, one day, you will be one of those people yourself, weaker than the other kids, or less popular, or the one who doesn't understand something. And then you'll want all the friends you can get. So be a friend when you can. You always can."
Well, it sounds more eloquent when I'm saying it to a group of rapt 8-year-olds, but what the hell, you know? I'm trying.
I write letters to the editor a LOT:) Some of my letters have caused serious problems with my husband's family. Knowledge is power and I truly believe if people understand how powerful their hate is maybe they'll try to make their love as powerful too. Unfortunately I live in Wyoming so it's a constant struggle, but I fight for our LGBTQ youth as much as possible! Join PFLAG or your local GSA to show your support! They appreciate it SO MUCH
I wonder if you've given a lot of thought to the contribution Hollywood gives to this climate of hate and bullying against gay kids. There's a fair share of blame to be laid at the feet of so-called Christians who preach fire and brimstone against "sinful" gays and lesbians, but when I think about the kinds of taunts kids receive in high school, a lot of it resembles a far more dangerous Judd Apatow movie than a Sunday morning sermon - not to mention the fact that far more kids are probably internalizing the messages they receive from mainstream movie comedies and TV shows more than they are listening to their preacher.
"Gay" is used as a catch-all insult in movies to mean everything from stupid to effeminate. There's a full scene in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" in which two characters trade barbs that start with, "You know why you're gay?" In "The Hangover" the guys pick up Ed Helms from his emasculating bride and yell, "Paging Dr. Faggot!" Just last week on "Community" a character yells "Gay!" at another character who publicly professes his love for a girl in front of the classroom. You know, because being honest is so totally gay. Right, NBC?
The truly tragic case of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers reads like a perverted version of every teen sex comedy from "Porky's" and "Revenge of the Nerds" to "American Pie" and "The Virginity Hit." Each of those movies has a major scene in which holes are drilled into walls or cameras are set up to spy on someone getting undressed or have sex. While they all feature straight characters spying on straight sexual activity, I'd argue that Tyler's roommate Dharun Ravi was as much a product of pop culture cruelty as political or religious cruelty.
I wouldn't let religious leaders or politicians off the hook. Fish rots from the head and it's institutional policy and dogma that creates our current culture of fear, intolerance and outright violence. But how many kids are learning that it's okay to call someone a faggot, not only from what they learn from their parents and community leaders but also from the too-casual way in which "gay" is used in TV and movies? Dharun Ravi, Tyler's roommate at Rutgers, hasn't been identified as an evangelical Christian by any of the news reports. Isn't a simple explanation that he grew up saturated in a culture that thinks it's okay to treat gays as less than human?
Not to get all Tipper Gore on Hollywood, but it seems hypocritical for actors to stand up against gay bashing while starring in movies that routinely use the word "gay" as an insult.
I was gay bashed in high school, and didn't grow up in a particularly religious town. I lived in Massachusetts, not exactly a red state. I don't want to see one more kid hurt because of what is happening in our country. Thank you for your efforts and encouragement. I think you've saved at least a few lives with your It's Get Better project.