Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Bullying: Protect Gays, and Others Who Are Vulnerable

July 14, 2009 1 min read

To the Editor:

Joleen Hanlon’s Commentary “A Tragic Lesson in Anti-Gay Bullying” (May 27, 2009) highlights the terrible fallout from hurtful words and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youths. In it, she emphasizes how sexual orientation often is the reason for bullying in schools.

I agree that schools are very much in need of age-appropriate, research-based programs that can help children understand and respect diversity, and can encourage an inclusive environment. Exclusion is not acceptable, and hate language and homophobic attitudes must be eliminated.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that many students who are targets of anti-gay bullying have not identified themselves as LGBT, as was the case in the essay’s example of Carl Walker-Hoover, a Massachusetts 6th grader who committed suicide. Hate language is used not just against LGBT students, but against many victims of bullying, and it is too limiting to define and react to the suicides of Carl and other students targeted for being perceived as gay as anti-gay harassment. It is not enough to rely only on organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network for education and protection. Bullying, both anti-gay and for other reasons, affects millions of children nationwide.

Adults need to look out for LGBT youths, but also for any students who may be especially susceptible to bullying. They may include children with disabilities, those who are overweight or new to the community, or children who don’t “fit in.” Be alert to warning signs, engage in ongoing conversations with children about bullying, teach all students the skills and strategies necessary for bullying prevention, intervene when bullying happens, and make sure children know that adults can help.

All young people deserve to be treated with respect, and none deserves to be bullied.

Kim Storey

Newton, Mass.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2009 edition of Education Week as Bullying: Protect Gays, and Others Who Are Vulnerable

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Spotlight Spotlight on Safe Reopening
In this Spotlight, review how your district can strategically apply its funding, and how to help students safely bounce back, plus more.

School Climate & Safety Video A Year of Activism: Students Reflect on Their Fight for Racial Justice at School
Education Week talks to three students about their year of racial justice activism, what they learned, and where they are headed next.
4 min read
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
David Zalubowski/AP
School Climate & Safety Interactive Which Districts Have Cut School Policing Programs?
Which districts have taken steps to reduce their school policing programs or eliminate SRO positions? And what do those districts' demographics look like? Find out with Education Week's new interactive database.
A police officer walks down a hall inside a school
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (images: Michael Blann/Digital/Vision; Kristen Prahl/iStock/Getty Images Plus )
School Climate & Safety These Districts Defunded Their School Police. What Happened Next?
Six profiles of districts illustrate the tensions, successes, and concerns that have accompanied the changes they've made to their school police programs over the last year.
Deering High School in Portland, Maine, one of two schools to have their SROs removed.
Deering High School in Portland, Maine, one of two schools to have their SROs removed.
Ryan David Brown for Education Week