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 Gay students in your classroom. 
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I know we have not really talked about diversity in the classroom other than social class so I just thought I would throw it out there.

I read a very disturbing article for my learner diversity class about a 15 year old gay male student that was murdered by one of his classmates. The teachers in this school did not handle the situation very well at all. Some of his teachers were accepting of him and then others had a problem with him expressing himself my wearing makeup and high heels. The article is called "Young, gay and murdered" if you want to look it up.

I was just wondering what you all thought about this and if you had a gay student in your classroom that was openly gay and wanted to express himself by wearing makeup or in another way that some people would find distracting, how would you handle the situation? And how would you handle bullies?

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Angela Nicole Sain


Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:14 pm
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Wow. This is really sad to hear. I think the most important thing to remember when handling any situation in the classroom that is causing students to harm each other physically or emotionally is that you are in charge. You have to go in the classroom and set the stage that you will not tolerate bullying of any kind in your classroom and then move from there. If you begin to act like you allow it in your classroom, or heaven forbid, talk about a student in a negative way yourself, then you are just opening a gate for students to bully each other. I think another important part about handling a situation like this would be to make students aware of what is going on so that they don't fear the unknown. If the gay student is open about his situation and wants to share, then let him have some time to share what it means to him and why he feels that way. Let other students also share things that make them different from others so they know its ok.

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Leslie Sheppard


Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:23 pm
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This article is very heart wrenching and made me want to cry at times, but this is something that teachers are going to have to deal with because it is becoming more and more common. If a students want to express themselves, I would hope that I would be able to allow them to do so. However, the student would not be treated differently just because they were different. The clothes they wore would have to follow the dress code and anything worn that could be distracting to the affective learning of other students would not be allowed. This is how I anticipate treating all my students so hopefully there wouldn't be any dispute about singling any one student out.

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Katelyn McMillan


Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:19 pm
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I think every person has a right to be whomever they want to be. As a teacher, I would encourage my students to create their own identities and search for their own feelings/opinions about things rather than just take on the feelings/opinions of friends, family, or even mainstream society. School should be a safe place, I think. Students should be able to feel like they can be themselves in a comfortable, positive environment. As for his attire, whatever. If he wants to wear high heels, go for it. If he wanted to come to school in a belly shirt that violated the dress code, that would be different. Telling him he can't wear a certain pair of shoes because we associate them with girls is like telling a girl she shouldn't wear pants because we associate them with men. Anyways, I would lead by example - if the teacher is accepting, students will hopefully follow suit. As for reaching students who may be bullying and tormenting a fellow student because of his or her sexuality, I would try to make it obvious through my lessons that discrimination/hatred based on sexuality is no different than racism, sexism etc. If people have learned to be accepting of the different races sitting next to them in class, they should learn to be accepting of the homosexual student(s) sitting next to them in class.

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Natalie Brady


Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:23 pm
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This is very disturbing to hear. I think as a teacher the most important thing to teach students is to be accepting and learn about diversity and accepting others. This goes for gay students, children with disabilities, divorced parents, anything and everything that students need to learn about. Parents should not shy away from these subjects, however making sure what is okay to say is important, but they should be addressed very delicately.

Casey Gill


Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:43 pm
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I agree that you to have address these kinds of issues in a delicate manner. If you only punish the person that is trying to express him/her then they are getting what they want, attention. If you leave the situation for the students to react without teacher input (at first) then have the teacher step in before it is too late the outcome might be better. You have to see how the students are reacting before you (the teacher) gives a reaction. Teachers and administration still have some influence over students and their views on others. It is the teacher's responsibility to intervene before something like a death or violence occurs, so you have to stand back for only a moment to get an idea of what the other students are thinking. Don't give your opinion or try to influence the student who is acting out to change or force the other students to be accepting. It is your job, as a teacher, to give factual information and prevent violence from breaking out.

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Heather L. Heath


Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:01 pm
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I agree that this can be a difficult topic and one that needs to be dealt with carefully. Overall, I think that each student has a right to be who they are and express themself the way they want to. As long as they are not violating any dress code or hurting another student, I don't see it as a problem. Teachers tell their students to think for themselves and be their own person all the time, and if that means dressing differently than the other students then that is fine. School should be a safe place for all students so I would deal with bullying and harassment the best I could. I would make sure all students know that it is not acceptable and discipline accordingly if it came to that.

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Kimberly Marie Isidori


Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:39 pm
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I feel that no matter what kind of students that a teacher has in their classroom, they should all be treated the same, even gay children. It the lower grades homosexuality is probably not going to be seen as much so it will not be as common to work with this situation. When one moves to the higher grades like middle, which we are certified to over lap teaching in, homosexuality is going to probably be a common child in the classroom. each teacher will deal with this issue their own way but I know that I will treat them the same as all of my other students.

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Katherine Gray Nelli


Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:31 pm
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I agree with what everyone has been saying. It is important not to allow bullying in the classroom and extra important not to treat a person badly, just because of their sexual orientation. In my learner diversity class we had a speaker from GLBT come in and she gave an example that was really sad. She said that they sometimes lose their best friends, family members who do not support them, they get things stolen from them at school, and even worse they get murdered so they can not accomplish their goals in life. When they lose everything, having the respect from a teacher is sometimes the only thing they have.


Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:42 pm
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I was also in Karie's learner diversity class and I thought the speaker was very interesting. She took us through several activities that put us in the situation of being a gay/lesbian/bisexual student, and what they go through in their schooling years. She told us to write down several items that we cherished and several people that meant a lot to us. She walked us through the steps of imagining that we were that student and in a lot of situations like that, they loose their closest friends and family just because they are different. It made our entire class think more about how students get made fun of in the classroom and what we should be looking for to help prevent that from happening.

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Laura Davis


Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:07 pm
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I believe that all students should be treated equally, no matter their race, social class, culture, or sexual orientation. I definitely think that this would ba a tough issue for me personally because although I don't agree with the decision to be gay, I still respect these people. I would not want to point the student out or even do a lesson about diversity on gay people because then it would single this kid out. However I might talk about how all children are different, but special in their own way. I might use examples of how some people have brown, red, or blond hair. There are all types of differences, but that is what makes us unique. If there were issues with bullying, I would probably pull those students aside ant talk to them about how it is not fair to make fun of people because they are different because everyone is different. No two people are alike! This is definitely a tough issue though!

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Jennifer Beach


Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:38 pm
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This disturbs me that no one really did anything to help the situation when it happened. As a teacher, you are the one in charge and are supposed to keep things from happening. I would like to think that if I had a gay child in my classroom I would let them express themselves freely, but I don't know what I would truly do. I think I would tell them it is ok to express themselves to an extent, but that there is a line that they shouldn't cross. If children were picking on them and it was causing issues in the classroom, and making grades drop then I might talk to the parents about it and see if they have any ideas on what could be done. This is a tough subject because unless you are that teacher, I don't think any of us know what we really would do.

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Emily Towery


Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:25 pm
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I am so in with lesie, she really said it: We are in charge of our own classroom. You were hired to teach kids about your topic area and with luck, to get them individually interested in that topic. We aren't there to enforce our ideas about these heated topics like race and sexual orientation.

That being said, I think ignoring bullying is absolutely the wrong way to go. But I think a certain approach is required. Maybe it's best to address the bully directly for being a bully - but not to mention that it's because of the other student's orientation which could bring up the whole genetic versus lifestyle choice which could open up a whole other can of worms especially if you aren't careful with your words. If it were me, I would say something to the effect of "do you really want to lower yourself to the level of judging others" or something that is implying that they aren't using their big boy words, because from experience in front of a high school classroom of 15 11th graders, despite how they act they do want to be seen as adults, and by saying that they aren't acting like one is really embarassing if even if only one other person hears. AND IT WORKS.


Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:05 pm
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As a future teacher this is certainly and a supporter of the LGBT community, this issue is huge for me. I would most definitely take time after class to talk with a student like Larry individually, and most likely on a regular to semi-regular basis. I'd probably start by prefacing the conversation by expressing concern for the student's safety.

I would explain to the student that there are risks that go along with being an outspoken and "out" LGBT individual. The best advice I could give any LGBT student is to not cross over people's personal boundaries, and since every person's boundaries are different it's always best to more reserved and cautious for your own personal safety.

I understand that all children, straight or gay, struggle with the defining their individual identity, and I wouldn't want a student to feel like I'm pushing them away from finding their true self.

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Jonathan M. Sykes


Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:35 pm
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I think that this becoming more and more of a problem every year. Honestly I do not know how I would handle this situation, I know that I would be open to this situation. I would try to help everyone in the classroom learn to handle this situation with understanding. I agree with Jon. I think that I would want to be understanding along with supportive. I though honestly do not know how this would best be handled so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to learn.

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Danielle L Epley


Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:47 pm
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I'm not really sure how I would handle this in my classroom either. I really do agree with whoever said that from the beginning you have to set up your classroom so that kids know they are to respect one another. I can't say that I would spend class time working out the student's feelings. We talk a lot in these ed. classes about how much we want the kids to feel comfortable and how they can talk about anything in our classrooms, but there also has to be a kind of pacing to the classroom, and theres not a lot of free time to spend on that. I would want (with the help of another teacher) to get the kids that were having the problem together and talk it over outside of class, because tension like that usually won't just go away.

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Crystal Brooke Ritchie


Wed Apr 22, 2009 2:37 pm
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I would first talk to the student and ask them why they felt they needed or wanted to dress and act the way they did. I will let them know that I don't support their actions or choices but I will protect them if they are harrassed. I plan to cherish all my students, gay or not, and I would not feed a child to the wolves just because of an identity crisis.

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Ashley Rebecca Brooks


Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:00 pm
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