Saturday, February 04, 2012

Homophobia Starts in Elementary School and Teachers Do Little to Stop It

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
One of the themes that we hear over and over again from parents who have lost children who were bullied to the point of suicide is that the parents complained to school officials, yet nothing was done to protect their child and stop the bullying. As the Rolling Stone article I noted the other day stated, often the victims of bullying could not even find a remotely sympathetic ear among the staff members of their schools. A new ABC News report underscores that while anti-gay bullying may be the most extreme in middle school and high school, it begins far earlier in elementary school. Worse yet, only 24% of teacher reported that they took any personal steps to stop it. Yes, you read it correctly. Over 3/4's of teaches did nothing. Here are highlights from the story (a video which starts after a brief ad is post above):

Now, the first survey of its kind, "Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States," reveals that homophobia is pervasive in elementary schools and, unlike Clare's school, most teachers do little to intervene. At this age, bullies use words to attack those who are different, but if not curtailed early, warn advocates, verbal teasing turns to violence at the middle school and high school level.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) examined homophobia and gender nonconformity among 1,065 students in grades 3 to 6 and 1,099 teachers in grades K to 6 in a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

An estimated 45 percent of students and 49 percent of teachers said that the word "gay" was most often used in a negative way, for example, "That's so gay." Many also report regularly hearing students make homophobic remarks, such as "fag" or "lesbo," and negative comments about race and ethnicity. Three quarters of the students report that children are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity.

Victims were most often targeted because of their body size, not being good at sports, how well they did their schoolwork, not conforming to gender roles or because others thought they were gay.

But only 24 percent of teachers report having personally engaged in efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for families with LGBT parents, even though nearly half of them regularly heard students making homophobic remarks.

Studies in grades K through 12 reveal that when children reach middle school, 40 percent of all LGBT students report having been physically assaulted because of gender expression or identity.

In addition, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, in a review of studies from 13 countries, found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide. GLSEN's own research indicates that LGBT youth may be more likely to think about and attempt suicide than heterosexual teens.

"Your child may be afraid to come forward and name bullies because they are afraid [the bullies] will not be punished and dealt with and [the child] will be attacked," she said. "When you don't handle the problem, it gets worse."

[M]any teachers do not intervene because they are afraid of "push back" from parents and others in the community, according to Peter DeWitt, a New York elementary school principal and author of "Dignity for All: Safeguarding LGBT Students."

"More and more kids, especially in our public schools, are coming from diverse families and some have had no exposure to LGBT people," he said. "In my school there was a hate blog for awhile." "Nobody's pushing an agenda on kids," he said. "It's about accepting and creating an inclusive climate where all kids are accepted. It's not just about gay kids. When they go to the work force, they will be exposed to all types of people. It's a skill you need to know."
Afraid of push back from parents and others in the community? We all know who that means: vicious, sanctimonious Christianists and the douche bag politicians who pander to them. Once again, religion proves itself to be a great evil.

No comments: