Edugation: Teaching Tolerance

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    Jun 11, 2009 3:29 PM GMT

    Educate Those Around Them
    Ignorance is never bliss. Try to extend your conversations of tolerance to the kids' friends, parents and teachers. Try to increase awareness about the risk of ridicule or harm from the child's peers. This is also an opportunity to discuss communication techniques with teachers. Don't wait until an incident arises where a conversation of tolerance must be presented. Start educating early. In classrooms, for instance, let educators know that it's not appropriate to single out or identify the children with gay parents, but do make them aware of their presence.

    Lead by Example
    Kids and the community often mirror your actions as a parent, teacher or educator. Monitor how you refer to gay people and your actions around gay individuals. In your comfort and acceptance lies theirs.


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    Jun 12, 2009 6:41 PM GMT
    OK Teacher Ousted Over Teaching Tolerance

    The Advocate reports a case of a teacher forced to resign for showing “The Laramie Project” to a class promoting tolerance. Perhaps, the depiction of violence against LGBT people hit a little too close to home for some of the good Christian folks in Oklahoma.

    by Julie Bolcer
    March 2009

    A high school teacher in rural Oklahoma resigned last week after a controversy erupted in response to an assignment intended to teach tolerance.

    In January, Debra Taylor showed her students at Grandfield High School the 2002 film The Laramie Project, based on the play about the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. The students were to then select scenes and film their own versions for a class project, but the school’s principal stopped production after a few weeks.

    When Taylor led students in a reflective ceremony about the canceled project, district superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the entire class. Taylor complained to a school board member, which prompted Turlington to recommend she be fired. The school board approved her resignation on Friday.

    An attorney for the school district denied that Taylor was let go because of the assignment’s gay-friendly content, but others in the community contend that the nature of the material played a role.

    “They don’t want something like this addressed in our community,” Matt Ebner, one of Taylor’s former students, told USA Today.

    Maybe they'll rehire the teacher after the summer, that is, if she's learned her lesson. (Oh, the irony.)

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    Jun 14, 2009 6:25 PM GMT
    Maybe the children can then teach the parents not to hate.

    Teaching Youth Not to Hate

    Here’s our Lesson #9: It is high time we accept human nature and understand that varied sexual identities exist on the planet. It always has and always will. Perpetual denial of this fact is ludicrous and dangerous. We’ve seen time and time again that it leads to shame, secrecy, violence and even death. Is this what we want for our children? No.

    School is where we learn about life. It is here that we all participate in a microcosm of the world. Staying home and just learning from our parents is not how cultures advance. The world is a much bigger place. School is where we experience new ideas, interact with varied cultures, form opinions, and evolve. There is no sense in pretending that coming of age will never happen and occurs in many individualized forms. It’s time we acknowledge this as a simple, non-threatening fact of life. Bigotry and hatred have no place in the formative years of youth. Period. End of lesson.

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    Jun 16, 2009 2:19 PM GMT
    The following letter may say it best. It was written by a member of the exchristians network to SOS ( -- an organization in Alaska fighting to stop gay marriage in their state, an organization that says, "We must say NO to the inclusion of homosexuality in any discrimination ordinance."

    You should be deeply ashamed of yourselves! I heard about your disgusting hate site on the Channel 2 News. When I visited it, as expected, I was confronted with sadly typical ignorance, outright lies, ridiculous and false assertions, and of course, plenty of ignorance-based misinformation.

    "Sexual Orientation" is certainly NOT a dangerous word to add to our discrimination laws. Do you enjoy being discriminated against when you try to force your ignorant (and frequently ridiculous) religious beliefs on others (rational, thinking people)? I didn't think so... Please answer the following questions:

    Why is that ignorant religious bigots such as yourselves can't simply keep your bigotry, ignorance, and hatred to yourselves and mind your own damn business?

    If homosexuality is a "choice" as I'm sure you'll ignorantly attempt to assert, then that obviously implies that heterosexuality is also a choice. When did you decide to become heterosexual? Please answer not just for yourself, but for every ignorant religious bigot currently working in your office. I want to know the day, the hour, and exactly what it was that influenced your decisions to become heterosexuals. Thanks.

    Homosexuals are generally NOT pedophiles and are NOT a danger to young children. If you actually knew anything at all about homosexuality, you would know that. When my sister and I were young children, my parents had no problems at all allowing their homosexual relative to babysit us. Dan was and is a decent, loving, caring individual and, obviously, he never once posed any danger to us. He and his partner Dirk have been together happily now for over 20 years (which is more than I can say for most Christian marriages), and they are having a great time raising an adopted child in their loving home. How DARE you claim that Dan would harm a child simply because he is homosexual! Your claim that Homosexual = Pedophile is not only simply wrong, it is DEEPLY IGNORANT and DEEPLY OFFENSIVE!

    There is NO legitimate reason why homosexual men should not be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts. If you actually knew anything at all about homosexuality, you would know that homosexuality and pedophilia are two entirely different and separate issues, and you would know that the vast majority of homosexual men are NOT pedophiles.

    Cross dressing has nothing at all to do with homosexuality. Again, if you actually knew anything at all about homosexuality, you would know that.

    Your assertion that any man can put on a dress and enter a ladies' restroom is not only absolutely ridiculous (as any rational, thinking person would instantly know), it quite obviously has no basis in REALITY.

    "THEY" are not sharing your ridiculous and extremely bigoted and deeply ignorant assertions because - OBVIOUSLY - your bigoted and ignorant assertions have NO BASIS IN REALITY.

    I'll be contacting my assembly representative alright, but not to add my voice to the ignorance, hatred, and bigotry that you are actively promoting. I will be adding my voice to SUPPORT GAY RIGHTS and encourage the promotion of education and tolerance instead of ignorance and bigotry.

    I live for the day when people will base their opinions and beliefs on SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, REASON, and RATIONAL THOUGHT (all of which I am well aware that religious nuts hate with a passion) as well as on what can be verified to be truthful and factual instead of basing them on the ignorant opinions and assertions of ancient (and mostly anonymous) Middle Eastern sheep herders.

    It is not my job to educate you (and I am aware that you don't want to be educated), but I would still strongly recommend that you visit the UAA Bookstore and pick up textbooks on General Psychology and also on Abnormal Psychology ( I made an "A" in both classes, btw). Either textbook should do much to counter the ignorance you are steeped in, but reading and LEARNING from both textbooks would obviously be preferable. Make a CHOICE to actually USE YOUR BRAIN (a novel concept, I know) for something besides a storage bin for religious ignorance and bigotry and DO IT!


  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 16, 2009 2:39 PM GMT
    I love parents are against teaching anything gay related in schools as if one, by not learning it at school it creates some magic force field where their kids will never learn about it in the real world, and two, that they'll somehow catch gay from the assignment.
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    Jun 28, 2009 3:19 PM GMT
    Stonewall, Teaching Tolerance, Lessons Learned?

    Stonewall, 40 Years Later, What Has Been Achieved?
    By Louis A. Ruprecht
    June 26, 2009

    Greenwich Village has a rare beauty in the early summer, when the days tend to be breezy and nights are still cool. I have never seen the place better kept, each and every park and thoroughfare brilliantly manicured with flowers and spices positively exploding into an orgiastic display of midsummer colors. Most all of the storefronts were painted in rainbow patterns that beautifully set off the gardens. It was the summer solstice. And it is the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots that symbolically announced the birth of a gay rights movement in the United States, rights for a community that would no longer be ignored. Quite suddenly, coming out of the closet meant hitting the streets.

    What had it all meant? What had been achieved?

    The short answer is “tolerance,” I suppose, the gradual acknowledgment that a person’s sexual practices are a private matter if anything is in this crazy world of sometime-security and continual surveillance. People may not actively endorse a lifestyle, but they accept its existence as normal now, and permit it a quiet coexistence, granting the lifestyle a place in the community or communities of which we now imagine ourselves to be a part.

    The lifestyle, the identity, is generally accepted now, especially in the generation that has come of age since Stonewall. The whole thing is generational, and that generational kind of tolerance has been achieved after a fashion.

    But what does it mean? What does the alchemical magic that turns private sexual activity into a public lifestyle, and then into a social identity, do to the politics of sexuality? Ironically, it turns thoughts to marriage, and not only because it is summertime in New York, and the solstice is upon us.,_40_years_later,_what_has_been_achieved/

    Valley reflects on 40th anniversary of Stonewall riots
    by Nicole C. Brambila
    June 28, 2009

    “Stonewall symbolized a turning away from assimilation efforts to ask straight people for tolerance to a more aggressive stance of asking for our rights.”

    A lot has changed since the days gays and lesbians couldn't touch each other in public, but advocates are quick to point out more still needs to be done: ending the military's policy of banning gays from opening serving, creating federal recognition of same-sex relationships and anti-discrimination protections.

    A level of tolerance isn't enough. There's still a long way to go. Tolerance still has to be taught. Class is NOT over.
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    Jun 30, 2009 3:14 PM GMT
    Exposing Hidden Homophobia

    Students learn to spot bias in their culture —and confront their own homophobia in the process.

    Sarah Arnold was in a bind.

    On the surface, the students in her 11th-grade English courses seemed to have their act together. Like so many people their age, Arnold's students saw open homophobia as uncool.

    On the other hand, when Arnold listened to her students talking before the bell, she often heard an anti-gay undertone that disturbed her. Students might utter the phrase "that's so gay," or crack jokes about anything that defied gender stereotypes. And Arnold had to wonder why so few gay people in Elkhorn, Wis. were out of the closet.

    "Some people would say we don't have a wide demographic variety here," Arnold said of the 94-percent-white Elkhorn Area High School. "It's more accurate to say that we have demographics that aren't acknowledged."

    Arnold took on the problem directly in "Exposing Hidden Homophobia," a 37-day unit in which her students examined electronic media, short fiction and finally a novel of their choice to find the covert and overt ways our culture sends demoralizing messages to gay people.

    She got them started slowly. Their first assignment: spend a class period writing an essay about one thing that makes you different from other people. Students would return to that essay again and again throughout the unit, as they conducted an in-depth exploration of depictions of the GLBTQ community in the mass media.

    Students watched the film Trevor (about the struggle of a gay teen in the Bible Belt in the 1970s), viewed a PBS special about the anti-gay murder of Billy Jack Gaither, did Internet research on the nature of homophobia and, ultimately, selected and read a book from a short list of young adult works about gay issues (including Rainbow Boys, Getting It, A Tale of Two Summers and The Laramie Project, among others).

    Her students resisted at first. Many didn't want to be seen carrying gay-themed books around school, fearful of how they'd be perceived by others. Some parents also balked: many people in Elkhorn attend churches that interpret the Bible as condemning homosexuality. In addition, administrators fretted about devoting more than a month of instruction to a single theme.

    Still, Arnold had done her homework. When parents or administrators questioned the plan, she was able to show how it supported higher-order thinking skills. She had each student assemble and present, in a professional manner, a portfolio on their research. Students had to define sociological and literary terms used in the unit, analyze examples of gay themes in the media, do qualitative research to examine the changing culture within their schools and in the world outside, and write a letter explaining what they learned from the unit. Ultimately, the unit met almost every one of Wisconsin's state standards for writing.

    Arnold made the unit optional, but despite initial discomfort on the part of some parents and students, all of Arnold's students chose to complete the portfolio.

    The climate in Elkhorn didn't change overnight, but membership in the school's newly-formed Gay-Straight Alliance grew, and students' portfolios showed small but significant shifts in attitude. One student, who self-identified as "against gays and lesbians" at the beginning of the unit, later wrote: "Gay people cannot help how they feel and that is OK, I understand, I am just not for it. Most importantly, when people use that phrase 'That is so gay,' it hurts everyone, not just gays."

    You don't need 37 days of class time to broach the topic of hidden homophobia, Arnold notes. Short nonfiction works such as "A Rose for Charlie" take only a few class periods to explore and are easier to work into a schedule.

    By keeping an eye out for current events related to gay issues, teachers may find opportunities to start a discourse. Arnold recalls how she sparked a lively discussion by simply providing her students with a copy of a newspaper story about a hate group that protests at the funerals of gay people and soldiers killed in the Iraq war.

    "All you have to do is bring it up, and the kids launch into a conversation," Arnold said. "They say, 'can you believe people would say these things?' And that's a chance to talk about what we ourselves are saying, and the effect our words have."

    Teachers and administrators who have seen Arnold's work have been inspired to incorporate it into their own curriculum. Colleen Rafter, principal of Raritan High School in Hazlet, N.J., said that after seeing Arnold's approach, she encouraged her English department to adopt a similar curriculum.

    "We really want to make a change in how people think and act," Rafter said. "I will try to be more brave on these issues myself."

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