Jill’s recent post “Helpful Hyperlinks” geared at helping children break their silence really got me thinking (definitely check Jill’s blog out if you haven’t already done so), together with the conversation we had during our last class around having responses prepared to handle conversations that might otherwise catch you off guard.
I found a great article published by Pink News, touted as being “Europe’s Largest Gay News Service”. The June 9th article Children of gay parents 'proud, but need schools to tackle issues'describes a 17 year qualitative study on children who were raised by lesbian couples. This study states that “they were happier and had fewer behavioral problems than children brought up by straight parents”. I am not totally convinced of this statement as there may be some bias associated with it, but it sounds good! I do however think the report recommendation has a very strong message: “schools should start early when teaching children about homophobic bullying, avoid making assumptions about typical families and respond robustly to homophobic language.”
I was also struck by the language students had either experienced teachers using or said they would find helpful. I felt really bad for Sasha whose teacher’s response to her complaints about bullying was to say “just ignore them, they’ll get bored.” which didn’t reassure Sasha. Another 19 year old, Hannah described the following statement as helpful/empowering : "If a teacher had come up to me and said, look, we understand your parents are gay, fine. If you ever get any problems from it, or anyone saying anything negative thencome and tell us.” Although this doesn’t give the student any language to respond to the bullying, it does give the message that being gay is acceptable and that the teacher will support the child if he/she needs help. I am reminded that if we reassure a child that their concerns are valid and that we will support them then this is a welcome first step. As Dr. Bogad said, “This stuff is hard and it takes practice”. She also reminded us that we need to think about what we would do in situations so that we can be ready for constructive action.