No hate.

I know I've mentioned before how it drives me crazy when kids use the words gay (or any variation thereof) as a pejorative; it's the only time that I use the royal we in my classroom, because for some reason, the first thing I always say is, "We don't use that word." And then we talk about it.

First I ask them if there's something wrong with being gay, and they always say no. (Though to be honest, there are a couple of kids that I might not ask that of, because I do have some blatant homophobes. And the first time I asked it, I was pretty dang nervous that the kid in question would say yes....but even if they maybe do think that, they're smart enough to know that that would just (a) enrage me more, and (b) get them in more trouble.)

Then they argue that they don't meeeeeeean it like's just what people saaaaaaay.

To which I nod, and say that I know they don't mean it like that, but they're still implying that there's something wrong with being gay by using it as a negative. I follow that up by equating it to the n-word, and how people used to use that without a second thought but that wouldn't be okay these days, would it?

They always say that no, it wouldn't, and I think it makes them think a little bit, and they never use the word around me again (or if they start to, they catch themselves and change it). I've been fairly happy with the results, but I've always thought I could do a better job.

Glee did it for me.

Some backstory, including spoilers, in case you don't watch Glee. (Um, if you don't, WHY NOT???? It is BRILLIANT. Though they seem to have completely given up on Mr. Schuster actually teaching; he's all Glee Club, all the time. Still. Very charming show.) This episode aired at the end of May; called Theatricality, in it, the Glee Clubbers had to find their inner Lady Gagas (though most of the boys went with KISS instead).

As part of the episode, Finn and his mom were moving in with Kurt and his dad (the two parents had been dating for some time), and for some reason that was never really explained, the two boys were going to have to share a room. Finn was angry and uncomfortable; Kurt decided to redecorate to make Finn feel more at home. Which was pretty nice of him, considering that Finn and Kurt's dad had started hanging out a lot in the episodes before and Kurt had been super jealous of that relationship.

Right before the following clip, Kurt unveiled the new digs, saying his inspiration was Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper in Morocco. Finn, rather than being appreciative, kinda loses his shit and basically accuses Kurt (who used to have a crush on Finn) of still being into him and says that he's not like Kurt. And then, this brilliance (thanks, Perez Hilton!):

I think I might show this clip next year; maybe get the school to incorporate it as part of a PBS lesson. Because it says exactly what I want to say, exactly what I want them to know. I don't want them to have hate in their hearts. They're better than that, and the gay students in my school deserve more.

Oh, and in the end of the Glee episode? Finn dresses up in a red vinyl dress to stand up for Kurt to some thuggy football players. I guess he doesn't want hate in his heart either, and he's doing what he can to get rid of it. Don't you love television happy endings? :)

(Image credit to Rev Dan Catt)


Sarah Garb said...

That IS a good clip! Though, I've never seen Glee. I hope it works out to use it tied into a lesson next year!

Joan said...

My 6th graders use that word all the time, well try to use it. I make it clear at the beginning of the year we do not practice ANY type of name-calling and "stupid" and "shut-up" are banned too.

Being in the buckle of the bible belt, and teaching 11-12 year old kids keeps me from having the tough conversations about sexual orientation. Too bad...

luckeyfrog said...

I think that clip would be great, especially because it talks about that word not being appropriate here, because this person is family.

We always talk about treating our students that way, so it fits really well to me.

I hear 2nd graders calling things "gay" and I've told them it's not a word we use at school, but it's tough. I want them to understand why, but they're 7 years old. I'm not going to explain about sexual orientation!

Tracey said...

This scene totally moved me to tears.

I agree with you that it's not enough to prohibit kids from using gay as an epithet... we have to ask them (and each other) why we consider it an insult at all.

Rachel said...

Gosh, what a job we have as teachers, eh? To be forming cultural norms in such way...what a big job! I have a friend who, whenever she hears the word used, immediately asks, "Um, I'm sorry how does [inanimate object or action] have a sexual preference/identity? Pretty sure it can't."

On a separate note, I actually wrote up a personal journal entry about that particular episode (different blog) because I didn't think they were totally fair to Finn's character. You said Kurt used to have a crush on Finn but I beg to differ; I think it's pretty obvious he still does. On another separate note, I think it's funny how they've kind of forgotten about Mr. Shue as a Spanish teacher (except when kids come to see him in his "office"...wish I had one of those! lol). I wish they'd do more with the fact that he's the Spanish teacher teaching Glee club. Where's the band/chorus teacher and how does s/he feel about this??

HappyChyck said...

I saw this episode, but watching just this scene in isolation really got to me.

I am not sure my students are watching Glee, but the whole show is just so powerful!

Rachel said...

Side note: You rec'd a Civil War historical fic YA novel by the title Second Sight. Do you know the author by chance?

Teacherfish said...

I went to a workshop once where the presenter suggested the line, "I find your use of that expression personally offensive."

although I do not remember much about the workshop- I can report that using the line is very effective for me. It does generate some questions about my sexuality, which I do not answer (although many students have met my husband and kids).

Sometimes when a student uses the expression- I hear from the back "you are personally offending Ms. Teacherfish." I think its about honesty- and taking ownership for my feelings- actually I don't know why it works- but it really does.

We just started the two week counted down to start of school. Payoff for ending on June 8.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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