Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Happy No Name-Calling Week!

Listen to this wonderful idea from GLSEN:
No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.
This week is GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week, and it seems like a really great set of lesson plans that tackle the issue of bullying in schools in a way that kids can understand (to read suggested K-5 lesson plans, click here). Bullying is a big-time LGBT issue because it's a powerful weapon that our heterosexist society wields daily against queer people. Gender policing through bullying is a constant, direct attack on GLBT youth's self-esteem, ensures that they feel meaningless and abnormal, and takes away their entitlement to basic rights by forcing them to internalize heterosexual supremacy. The resulting tangible impacts of bullying are a direct result of LGBT youth losing the right to achieve and translate into an economic disparity later in life.

So of course something like this is going to attract negative attention from anti-gay forces. The AFA has "Sodomy 101: Gay activists are transforming public schools into propaganda factories" as their top story today, and a group of anti-gay parents got riled up over this. These people are only concerned when the current hierarchy being upset, so this shows that GLSEN is going in the right direction. I don't recall ever reading anti-gay propaganda about how the HRC's Buying for Equality Guide is destroying families. (To clarify, I'm really glad that they have that guide for moral reasons, but as a strategy to fight heterosexism, let's be honest....)

The great thing about these lesson plans is how simple and age-appropriate they are, and how being opposed to the content of them really shows anti-gay folk for how callous they really are. For example, in the first lesson at the elementary school level, kids are asked to think of names that they like to be called and names that they don't like to be called, sharing those names with the class, and then making a list of "Names I want to be called" and "Names I don't want to be called". This gets kids thinking about the importance of constructing one's own identity, listening to others' feelings and respecting their wishes, and thinking about the consequences of their words. Truly radical, because the ability to construct one's own identity is at the crux of queer self-esteem.

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