An article I read recently hit a nerve. Apparently some teachers are telling kids that are being bullied that they need to act less gay.
While this article is from England, I think that it is applicable for almost anywhere. The article from the London Evening Standard acknowledges that some children are teased for their sexuality, and I not only see this happen in college environments daily, but also witnessed it in my junior high and high school.
A friend of mine actually started an organization, Write Your Principal, partially due to the bullying that LGBTQIQ students have had to face and also due to her own experiences. She and I went to the same high school, and at one point, a teacher of ours actually had the gall to tell her that our classmates might be nicer to her if she would only act less gay. How does one “act gay?”
But back to the article I came to write about. I’m sadly not shocked that few teachers are given training in how to deal with bullying as well as not being sensitive to their students needs (sorry, I’m of the idea that teachers should be sensitive to all students needs and unless a student discloses that they aren’t straight, it’s hard to assume). That said, GLBTQIQ students are more likely to face bullying, not want to attend school because of problems there, and are more likely to want to commit suicide than their peers.
Is there an easy answer? I’m not really sure. I do think that teachers need more training in how to deal with students better, as well as create a more positive learning environment. I can say as someone who teaches classes taken by future teachers that there aren’t a whole lot of classes out there that can help with this, and that telling a student to “act less gay” is not helpful. Further, I think that offering support to teachers as well as continued training in how to support their students, improve their conflict management techniques, and create a better learning environment for everyone.
What else do you think can be done? Can this situation get better?