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#1 of 6 Old 01-13-2006, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, all! I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but I think I'd like the opinion of a gay person on an upsetting experience I had this morning. Ok. I teach junior high school science. At the end of class today, one student, Carlos, stays back to talk to me obviously upset. When I ask him what what's up, he very hesitantly tells me that another student in class has been "telling everyone I'm gay" and "saying I'm like Michael Jackson." He tells me he is thinking of going to the assistant principal to complain, but doesn't want to "snitch." Then he tells me that this has happened to him before, in elementary school. By now, tears are rolling down his face and he's fighting back sobs....

OK. This is a 13 year old boy who is incredibly sweet and kind. He is somewhat feminine in his mannerisms and most of his friends are girls.....I don't know, but I think he may very well be gay. I do know that he is the very dedicated only son of an extremely religious catholic hispanic mom, so maybe being gay is not something he wants to consider, but I don't know, he may not be gay, he may just have really strong feminine influences....

Anyway, I'm really upset, but I try to speak carefully and this is what I say: First of all, let me tell you that I don't consider saying someone is gay to be an insult. Being gay is just one way of being.... some of my favorite people are gay and they are wonderful people. So there's that. But, I know that the boy who said that was trying to hurt you by saying it, and that makes it wrong. No one has the right to say things about you in order to hurt you.

This is when he tells me that it has happened before. We talk about his going to the assistant principal, and while I know him ( the AP) to be a very kind and fair man, he's also a big time athletic coach and the mean boy is one of his athletes. Carlos doesn't want to get the kid in trouble, he just wants it to stop.

So we make arrangements for Carlos to see the school counselor, telling him that I'm here if he wants to talk to me again. He thanks me and says he loves my class, or else he would just try to get his schedule changed.Then he leaves to lunch and that's it.....now I'm thinking of a million other things I could/ should have said to Carlos.....Do you think I handled this correctly?

Thanks in advance for any responses.

Jenny: 40 Something AP mom to 2 adult kids, 2 teen step kids, and one amazing 7YO. Doula and Brio Birth educator, too!
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#2 of 6 Old 01-13-2006, 09:55 PM
 
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I think you did very well. I'm also a teacher--I've taught high school and junior high always as an out teacher so I get to have interesting interactions with kids...

IMO, Your response met him exactly where he is while giving a gentle message to counter the hateful ones. It's terribly important (IMHO) to let kids come to their self-identity at their own pace and that means meeting them where they're at even if we guess something more will come later. For now, from what he's told you, the primary problem is being put-down and you've dealt with that as best as you can (btw: is it niceness that keeps him from not wanting the other kids in trouble or fear of retribution?). Since you've made it clear that you're safe, he may be back. And he may eventually want to tell you why it's so painful to him to be called gay--maybe someone in his family uses it as an insult, maybe he knows he's different and has always worried, maybe it's just too painful to be different and to be teased. Or, he may not be back, given the way junior high kids are, this may blow over tomorrow and something else is the most dreadful thing in his life...but I guarantee that if he later realizes he is gay, he will remember you as he comes out and remember that not everyone hates gay people.
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#3 of 6 Old 01-17-2006, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply! Guess I'll just wait and see if anything else happens.... and try to be a source of support and acceptance. Peace, Jenny

Jenny: 40 Something AP mom to 2 adult kids, 2 teen step kids, and one amazing 7YO. Doula and Brio Birth educator, too!
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#4 of 6 Old 01-17-2006, 12:37 PM
 
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Yup! Support and acceptance...I do so much tongue biting, finger crossing, and waiting--adolescence is so hard and as an adult I can only do so much to make it easier and some days that is so frustrating to me! I find myself wondering today if teachers end up making better parents of adolescents or if I'll end up having a harder time with my own teen than other people's...

But...every time I meet another adult who is trying to make adolesence a little easier for the kids who are a little different I feel more hopeful about this crazy world of ours. Thank you!

Ellen
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#5 of 6 Old 01-17-2006, 10:08 PM
 
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I think you did great, there should be more teachers like you in the world to support young people
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#6 of 6 Old 01-20-2006, 05:53 PM
 
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I'm so glad that you responded, and said the things that you did. I think the important thing now is follow-up. Make sure he connects with school counselor, etc.
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