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tigtog now posts at the new and improved Hoyden About Town. She also blogs at Larvatus Prodeo and Finally A Feminism 101 Blog. If the new Hoydenspace is down you should find updates below.

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2006-02-12

High-school homophobia

So my son, who turns 13 in a few months, started in high-school last week. This week, a class was disrupted when the teacher left for five minutes and a scuffle broke out between two boys. One boy had been taunting the other about how he was obviously hopelessly gay-gay-gay and the taunted boy snapped and started shoving the other boy around the room and pushing stools off tables.

Both boys were escorted off to the principal's office, and the other boys speculated in delicious round-eyed fascination over whether the boy who snapped would be suspended. There was no comment that either the taunting or the over-reaction had been in any way a stupid way to behave about homosexuals.

How do you even start suggesting a decent coping procedure for this type of thing? I suggested that the taunting boy might have a habit of just picking on other boys like this, and that a decent response if it happens to him might be "why are you so worried about who's gay?", but I don't know.

2 comments:

Carolyn said...

I taught middle school for one year. It was a middle school whereracial words couldn't be used but apparently no one had ever told the kids that 'gay' wasn't an OK insult. I trotted several surprised students off to the Principals' office for that. Made me no friends w/ the administration.
Anyway - I tried to get the taunters and bullies, but in a class of 25-30 the only one you usually can see is the reacter. So I would send both but advise the reacter that if instead of reacting, they would complain loudly or talk to me privately I could keep a better eye out - but that reacting to taunts w/ prohibited behavior would surely get them in trouble even if I was sympathetic. It is a habit for bullies to taunt secretly until they get a reaction and then they can act innocent.
Unfortunately, many schools and teachers do not create a safe atmosphere for kids to complain about bullies. And having a discussion about gayness in the inappropriate class often backfires.
The best solution is to demand that the school have a strong anti-bullying policy and train teachers and kids.

tigtog said...

The school's admin is fairly proud of it's anti-bully program, but I'll have to wait and see what I think of it as time flies by.