LGBT youth, and those perceived to be LGBT, endure constant bullying, harassment, and discrimination: in the classroom, hallways, locker rooms and on the bus. But bullying is more than disturbing, it is also dangerous and disruptive.
When students feel unsafe at school, they are also unable to learn. It is imperative that adults in the school community stop bullying whenever, and wherever, it happens.
Three Key Points to Remember:
- Don’t ignore discriminatory behaviors: Unchecked behavior will repeat itself again and again.
- Don’t excuse discriminatory behaviors: They need to be addressed.
- Don’t be immobilized by fear: Not taking action can endanger kids and make the classroom unsafe.
Managing Harassment DOs . . .
DO deal with the situation immediately.
DO confirm that the particular type of abuse is hurtful and harmful and will not be tolerated.
DO value everyone’s feelings by listening carefully.
DO take those involved aside and discuss the incident.
DO impose consequences consistent with school or classroom policy.
DO use it as a “teachable moment” if appropriate, so all students learn what is acceptable and what is not in your classroom.
… and Managing Harassment DON’Ts
DON’T let harassment pass unchallenged.
DON’T overreact with a put-down to the offender.
DON’T impose consequences before finding out exactly what happened from all involved.
DON’T embarrass either party publicly.
DON’T assume the incident is isolated.
HELPFUL HINT: Casual comments can have unintended consequences. While young people may use phrases such as “that’s so gay” or “faggot” in circumstances where they are not meant to be destructive, other students receive such remarks with offense. Regardless of whether there is a specific target, or a specific, malicious intent, behind such words, it is important that adults step in, stop their use and explain why they are harmful.
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