HRC releases “Welcoming Schools” guide
May 1, 2009
From Ellen Kahn, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Family Project: On the heels of two high-profile tragedies-the suicides of 11 year old children, both of whom were relentlessly bullied at school — many school administrators, counselors, and other concerned professionals are looking for new approaches to combat bullying. To help schools create a climate where differences among students and families are respected, the Human Rights Campaign's Family Project has published a new resource that addresses family diversity, name-calling and gender-stereotyping in K-5 environments. The guide is one of few resources available that integrates LGBT topics into discussions of bullying and families. Carl Joseph Walker Hoover and Jaheem Herrera, the two boys who committed suicide, were bullied in part because they were perceived to be gay. We know that students use words like "gay," "queer," and "sissy," in derogatory ways as early as kindergarten and we also know that school leaders may be apprehensive about addressing bias based on gender and sexual orientation. The guide provides school leaders with strategies to work with educators, families, and students to help adults intervene when this kind of negative language is used. The content of the guide can be integrated into existing anti-bullying or character development initiatives, The guide also provides tools to create a supportive environment for elementary students who are most likely to be bullied for being gay - those students who do not conform to gender norms. The resource has been piloted in 13 schools thus far. To learn more, download "An Introduction to Welcoming Schools," which includes data from the first year of the pilot, at www.welcomingschools.org.