Imagine walking into a classroom, locker room or local hangout and being hit with words like “that’s so gay", stupid, no homo, ugly, fat, poor, retarded, fag or dyke. Those words certainly wouldn’t make you feel welcome, safe or secure. Unfortunately, many of our children are being bombarded with these words everyday. According to GLSEN’s 2009 School Climate Survey, 88.9% of students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) frequently or often at school, and 86.5% reported that they felt distressed to some degree by this language. As a former teacher, I can say that name calling has no place in our schools and these words have a lasting affect well into adulthood.
We must remember that ALL forms of name calling, not just against LGBTQ students, must not be tolerated, EVER! In this spirit, PFLAG National is proud to co-sponsor GLSEN’s eighth annual No Name-Calling Week, which takes place on January 24-28, 2011 in thousands of schools nationwide. To better support school communities to stop the name calling, GLSEN has free downloadable resources for students, families and teachers. My favorite are the free lesson plans for elementary, middle and high school teachers highlighting fun and exciting ways to empower students to end to name calling. You can even submit information about your No Name-Calling Week activities, project and events. I also encourage PFLAGers to share your stories with our National Office.
Another innovative aspect of the No Name-Calling Week is the Creative Expression Contest. The contest encourages elementary, middle and high school students to submit essays, poetry, music, original artwork, or other artwork that conveys their experiences and feelings about name-calling, and their ideas for putting a stop to verbal bullying in their schools and communities. This year they have added a new High School category to the contest for short-film submissions that focus on anti-LGBT name-calling and bullying in school. The goal is to have students working on their art pieces during the week as a way to learn about and deal with name-calling and bullying. For more information, entry form and contest guidelines, please visit http://www.nonamecallingweek.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/57.html.
Please consider joining PFLAG National and students from across the country in making this annual event a huge success by participating in No Name-Calling Week today!