On the national Day of Silence last April, I visited Daniel Webster Middle School in Los Angeles, one of 21 middle schools in California with a G.S.A. California is one of only 12 states that have passed laws to protect students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. (In May, Representative Linda Sanchez of California introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill that would require schools to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include protections for gay students.)
I arrived at Daniel Webster, a school of some 850 students, most of them Hispanic or African-American, at lunchtime. About 50 kids milled around two large wooden tables at the center of the school’s leafy courtyard. Many of them wore pink T-shirts, and some filled out cards that would later be strung together and displayed: “You Are What You Are — Embrace It,” “Never Put Someone Down, and Never Let Someone Put You Down.” Others communicated using hand gestures or by writing notes to one another. But most had given up trying to be mute. “Good luck getting middle-schoolers not to talk,” the school’s counselor and G.S.A. co-adviser at the time, Ruben Valerio, told me with a smile.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
GLBT in middle school (Speak it!)
Must-read and already much linked to Times article about the rising number of middle schoolers identifying as gay, lesbian, or bi and the way schools and families are rising to meet the challenge. A story worth telling to be sure, though the reference to the "Day of Silence" (in which GLBT students and their allies are mute for a day to raise awareness) annoys me as usual. The metaphorical implications of keeping silent are just too powerful, and I maintain anyone who sees the film Milk should quickly realize how defeatist the idea is. A telling moment from the article: