Apparently one way to solve anti-gay school bullying is to teach students that gays are just like everyone else? That’s the solution being put forth by Stoke Newington, a British high school, which claims lessons on important historical gay figures “more or less eliminat[ed] homophobic bullying.”
Music teacher Elly Barnes said she developed the lessons with colleagues five years ago, after she became concerned about pupils using “gay” as a derogatory term. Now the school plans to extend the scheme by teaching hundreds of teachers how to “educate and celebrate” being gay. Ms Barnes aims to “eradicate homophobia from all schools” by giving staff the confidence and resources required to tackle the prejudice.
“Many schools haven’t even begun to deal with homophobia,” she said. “Some still think being gay is illegal in parts of the country. By looking at famous LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people in history, we’ve changed opinions and we have had a number of pupils come out. “We have also changed the language used in the school. I used to hear the word gay used all the time as a derogatory term. Now we hardly hear it.”
I’m not academia expert, but I’m pretty sure that when schools started using texts that revealed African-Americans were more than cotton pickers in U.S. history, and Latinos more than border crossers, they too experienced a surge of respect.
How novel: Teaching kids, in school, that LGBTs are responsible and admirable members of society sends the message that calling Billy a faggot on the monkey bars isn’t just unacceptable, but weird. Meanwhile, teaching students that homosexuality is an illness, as one Polish textbook does, sends the message queers are there to be ridiculed for their sickness.