Friday, January 20, 2012

“No Name Calling Week” Educates about the Power of Words

January 23rd to January 27th is “No Name Calling Week,” an awareness campaign inspired by James Howe’s young adult book called “The Misfits.” The story tells of a group of friends who are teased and bullied. The self-professed “Gang of Five” decides to run in their student elections, promoting a “No Name-Calling Day” at their school. The spirit of the story has now become an annual week of education where students, parents, and educators call for the elimination of bullying in their communities.

This year GLSEN has released a new report on bullying in elementary schools called “Playground and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States,” the first national study to look at homophobia, gender nonconformity and bullying at the K-5 level. 

The study found that 45% of students and 49% of teachers heard the word “gay” used in a negative way regularly; 75% of students reported that students at their school are harassed regularly—23% of this harassment is against gender non-conforming children and 21% is against students who are perceived to be gay. Nearly one out of every ten elementary students from 3rd to 6th grade indicated that they did not conform to “traditional” gender roles or norms. These students were less likely to feel safe at school and less than half of teachers thought these students would feel comfortable at their school. Only 34% of teachers have reported attempting to create safe classrooms for gender non-conforming students.

Based on this report, GLSEN has developed the Ready, Set, Respect! toolkit, which PFLAG National was proud to review prior to release and excited to promote on our National Blog earlier this month. Created to help educators ensure all students and families feel valued and respected, the toolkit is a unique resource for teaching the concept of respect. The toolkit contains lesson plans which focus on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity, and is available for free on

Education surrounding “No Name-Calling Week” and GLSEN’s incredibly informative, yet concerning, study are being released at a time when we have an opportunity to help create change for our students at the federal level. The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or NCLB/ESEA) is being discussed in Congress, and Senators are considering adding the Student Non-Discrimination Act (S.555) into their version of the bill. If added, SNDA would ban discrimination and harassment against a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill will be introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) as an amendment to NCLB/ESEA, and is crucial to ensuring that every week is “No-Name Calling Week” in our nation’s schools.

Take Action: Please, take a stand for students’ safety in public schools by contacting your Senators and urging them to become a co-sponsor SNDA. Every phone call counts! The more we express the urgency of building safer schools today, the more attention we will receive. For up-to-date news on upcoming legislation and action alerts as they happen, subscribe to PFLAG National’s Action E-List!
If you would like to get involved in “No Name-Calling Week” please visit the NNCW website.

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