Wednesday, October 13, 2010


As I am absolutely sure you are aware, many kids have taken their lives in recent weeks as a direct result of bullying. The only question I have that surrounds this devastating loss is purely, "why?" We are EDUCATORS! Part of our job is to ensure that our classrooms and schools are a safe place to not only learn, but survive. We are their advocates, their cheerleaders and often their role models. So, why do so many kids still feel unloved and unappreciated...let's just face it...hated enough to take their lives?

I like to put myself and those around me in this lovely little setting of puppies and rainbows. I delude myself into thinking that because I love my students and do everything in my power to make sure they feel accepted, that everyone else does too. Sadly this is not the case. My classroom last year became all but a refugee camp for our GLBTQ students in a huge campus of intolerant individuals. These kids told tales of being called names, beaten up, looked down upon and told many of the same things as those who have recently taken their lives. They even told me of teachers looking at them with disgust in the hallways and turning a blind eye when they saw these atrocities happen to them.

I have to admit, I didn't believe them...about the teachers. I brought it up over lunch in a room of faculty. Choking up I explained what these kids had articulated about the adults on our campus. I was expecting matched rage with mine. I could not have been more wrong. One teacher quipped back, "Well, it's disgusting!" Another chimed in, "I don't want to see them making out in the hallways!" Still others echoed, "Well, if they choose to be 'out' at school, they have to expect that sort of treatment."

WHAAAAT?! I was TEACHERS! I mean, we don't take the Hippocratic Oath...but I have always felt that when I shook the dean's hand and accepted my teaching certificate that I swore to protect kids and educate them whatever the cost. Do no harm, right? So, why is it that the people our students are supposed to look up to are turning their backs? Why are we allowing this sort of behavior to happen from their classmates? Why is there no one these kids feel safe enough with to talk to them about the scary and deep stuff? Why as a society are we not screaming for justice?


Some links that may help continue this dialogue:

1 comment:

  1. The sad fact is that we live in an intolerant world. I'm surprised you are shocked Mel...and happy at the same time because it says a great deal about you (one of the many reasons I like you)! The fact is that teachers in public education do not take an oath of any kind and carry with them all the bigotry and nonsense they've been taught or picked up in their own youths. It can be as simple as using the word "fag" (I won't mention any names of teachers we both know here, but they are practicing letting that word go...or they were while I was there), or their indifference to students suffering bullying because of their sexual orientation or identification.

    Public educators need to remember that we are here for ALL students, not just the ones we like or approve of - but all of them - to create open, safe learning environments so they can discuss and create their own opinions - not those fueled by our own. I'm proud of the GLBT youth that come out in high school(or earlier) in the face of such intolerance. During my youth such an act would have meant certain humiliation and/or death for me. So many things were missed because I had to live in silence/in secret. It is a horrible situation. When lying becomes your way of life, how many other things will you sacrifice to stay safe? Look at politicians who are discovered or one should be forced to make these choices.

    We cannot undo what has happened...but you have a media class in which you can discuss the ramifications of invastion of privacy in the Clementi case and the responsibility we have to our fellow human beings. Teachers like you will make the future better. I thank you for you openness and for embracing the true spirit of public education.