Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gay hall talk

I shared this experience several years ago on a different blog. In light of differing perspectives and what I hear various students saying these days, I feel like sharing this experience again is worthwhile: 

One of my 7th grade students does not like nor accept gay people. He often makes disparaging comments about them in class. When he does, he and I end up having a "little chat" about it in the hall. 

The last time this happened, I told him that there may be people in his classes who are gay who would be highly bothered by his comments. He quickly said he "wouldn't do it again". I reminded him he had promised that the last time we "chatted". (This was our third such "visit".)

I knew I had to get his attention better about it. 

"In this day and age," I said, "everyone is clamoring for respect about his life. If someone wanted to, he could file sexual harassment charges against you for the things you are saying about gay people." 

I paused, then continued, "You have African-American blood in you, is that right? " He nodded his head "yes". I said, "How would you feel if people wanted to make fun of you by saying, 'Oh. That is so black'?"

His eyes got huge. He said, "I would HATE that." 

I said, "Exactly. It is the same for people who are gay. They are just who they are. You had no control over being born with African-American blood in you. They have no control over being born gay. They are simply who they are." 

He said, "I didn't get it before when you told me to stop. But, I get it now. You'll never hear me say those things again." 

Happily, I never did.