Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Playgrounds and Prejudice: GLSEN's New study on Homophobia and Gender Nonconformity in Elementary Schools

Check out this new study by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.  Here are some of their key findings:

  • The most common form of biased language in elementary schools, heard regularly (i.e., sometimes, often or all the time) by both students and teachers, is the use of the word "gay" in a negative way, such as "that's so gay," (students: 45%, teachers: 49%).
  • Gender nonconforming students are less likely than other students to feel very safe at school (42% vs 61%), and are more likely than others to be called names, made fun of or bullied at school (56% vs 33%).
  • While an overwhelming majority of elementary school teachers say that they include representations of different families when the topic of families comes up in their classrooms (89%), less than a quarter of teachers report any representation of lesbian, gay or bisexual parents (21%) or transgender parents (8%).
  • A majority of teachers (85%) have received professional development on diversity or multicultural issues, but less than half of teachers have ever received specific professional development on gender issues (37%) or on families with LGBT parents (23%). 

GLSEN also released "Ready, Set, Respect! GLSEN's Elementary School Toolkit," with lesson plans that focus on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity.  It's designed

"to help elementary educators ensure that all students feel safe and respected and develop respectful attitudes and behaviors."

The materials also include powerful anecdotes, like this one:

Third grade teacher Ms. Rojo learns from one of her student’s moms that on the previous day’s bus ride home, her son Jordan had been teased by a group of students after sharing that his mom is a lesbian. “Your mom is a lesbian? Jordan’s mom is a lesbian! That’s gross,” the students chanted. While Jordan doesn’t say anything to Ms. Rojo about it, Ms. Rojo learns that not only were the children teasing him, but that the bus driver’s response was to stop the bus and yell at Jordan, saying “don’t ever use that word again.”

They are two great resources to help make a difference in our schools!


ps - my thanks to Greg for giving me the heads-up on these, so I could share them with you!


Peggy Rouse-Hall said...

If children are not introduced the concept of respect at school,we are all in trouble. Our future depends on our youth and it should be at a very early age an elaborate amount of material on this subject should be taught. They may be taught to respect siblings and mom and dad at home as an expectation,but the minute they are surrounded by different races,and other children they are not familiar with,the formula of respect changes. Acceptance is strange to most kids because it's all new and has not been taught to them. We,as adult leaders in the education industry, have an urgent responsibility to make sure this is taught and practiced past our words. If not us,then who"if not now,then when? It's not a standard listed to be mastered,but a responsibility to be followed through from grade to grade. I am a retired teacher from both public and private schools. I know all these things to be true because I was there.

Joanna said...

Thank you so much for making us aware of this information and indicating the key, still concerning, points.

I have just read your newsletter and wanted to say congratulations on being contacted by Brentwood School in Los Angeles to do my Smashing Stereotypes Workshops on an ongoing basis. This is wonderful news for you AND these students and teachers!