Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Matthew Shepard Continues To Make A Difference: An ELA/History Resource Guide For High School Educators

GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Lesléa Newman and Candlewick Press have collaborated to develop He Continues to Make a Difference: Commemorating the Life of Matthew Shepard, a resource for high school educators interested in:

• Commemorating and learning from the life of Matthew Shepard

• Teaching themes of empathy and social justice

• Implementing LGBT-Inclusive curriculum while meeting reading and writing standards

• Supporting LGBT students

Using Lesléa Newman’s award-winning book of poetry, OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD, as a foundation, educators can foster meaningful dialogue with students while meeting English/Language Arts and Social Studies standards.

I like a lot of this guide - the discussion of windows and mirrors, the core curriculum tie-ins, the call to educators to include more LGBTQ curriculum materials, and especially Lesléa's introduction "Why Matthew's Story Still Matters," which included these very moving words:

When someone is reduced to a slur, he or she becomes, in the
eyes of a tormentor, less than human. He or she becomes, in a
tormentor’s eyes, someone of no consequence, someone who
doesn’t matter, someone—or something—easy to destroy.
And this is why we must keep telling Matthew Shepard’s story.
Matt was not a “fag.” Matt was a person. He was a son, a brother,
a boyfriend, a classmate, a friend. In the Jewish tradition, which is
my tradition, it is said, “Whoever saves a life, saves a whole world.”
I believe that the opposite is also true. Whoever destroys a life,
destroys a whole world. We will never know all the great things
Matthew Shepard would have done had he not been murdered
(ironically, he wanted to work for international social justice). We
will never know how he would have looked once his braces were
removed. We will never know what he would have done upon
graduating from the University of Wyoming. We will never know
if, later in life, he would have married and raised children. We will
never know all the joy and love he would have continued to bring
to his family and friends and to those he had yet to meet. When
his life was cut short, a whole world was destroyed.

In my tradition there is a concept known as “tikkun olam” which
means “repairing the world.” Every person is assigned this task at
birth even though it is assumed that our broken world will never
be fully repaired. Still, each one of us must contribute to “tikkun
olam” in some way. It is also assumed that no individual can do
this alone. And that is why I am so excited to be working with the
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Matthew
Shepard Foundation, and Candlewick Press. Together we can
do so much. Together we can reach high school educators and
administrators, political activists, LGBT youth, librarians, parents,
and readers of teen literature, all of whom can work together
to carry on Matthew Shepard’s legacy to make the world a safer

The resource guide is available as a free pdf, and is well worth checking out.


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