Family / Kids / School

TGIF Video: What Do You Know?

“Yes, elementary school kids know the word ‘gay,'” says the bespectacled fifth-grader, matter-of-factly.

That’s how the trailer for the professional development film “What Do You Know? Six to twelve year olds talk about gays and lesbians” concludes, and by then the point has been amply made. By the six-to-twelve year olds whose voices make up the bulk of the short documentary.

Think they aren’t interested in talking about these subjects? Think again. From one girl: “I wish more teachers could elaborate on it and talk about it more, instead of like, two sentences and then dismiss the subject.”

And this, from a solemn young man who I hope will consider a future run for the presidency, regarding the impact of name-calling and bullying: “That stuff lasts forever. It stays in their minds and it haunts them. So I think that it should be not accepted, and it should be addressed immediately.”

How to address this stuff? Figure out how to talk about it. To kids. Who already do.

 

 

If you don’t already know about it, Welcoming Schools is an outstanding  K-5  curriculum that provides rich resources for educators to embrace family diversity, help kids avoid gender stereotyping, and empower kids to end bullying and name-calling. My school district, Berkeley Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the first in the nation to adopt it district-wide. Every teacher has had in-service trainings on it, every school has a teacher liaison to provide guidance in it implementation, and K-5 teachers in every school are putting some of the lessons into practice in their classes this year. It is thrilling, and utterly vital.

It’s vital because even in progressive towns like my own, a few lessons from this curriculum alone won’t eradicate bias and disrespect. But when for instance a third grader mentions that she has two moms, and another kid spits out “That’s gross!” the teacher can have some resources to address the situation. It happened to my daughter a month ago, and I’m looking to the Welcoming Schools curriculum, as well as Groundspark’s That’s a Family! and its accompanying guide, as resources to ply the teacher with.

More on the curriculum and its progress in BUSD in future posts. Meanwhile, check out this Friday video! And just try not to hug some of these daggone cute kids, because even though you’ll want to, you’ll knock over your computer screen. Go to the link for the film to learn how to get a copy for your own school or PTA or parents’ group.  It’s about the price of a movie, popcorn, and a supersize movie soda. And way more healthful.

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  1. I went on a field trip with my oldest son last year when he was in Kindergarten. On the bus ride home, another little girl got my attention (I was the adult near the back of the group) and said, “He called me gay!” My heart BROKE. Into a MILLION PIECES. Kindergarten. At the beginning of the year. So these kids were five and, at most, six. Slinging gay as an insult.

    This video is a must-watch. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. And thank you, Jenna, for endorsing it. I actually watched (just the trailer) with my kids the other day, in light of the kid in my daughter’s class saying her parents were “gross.” It’s intended for the adults around kids, but kids like mine for sure feel validated by it.

    My daughter knew families like ours were in the minority, numerically (like the # of “lefties” in any given cohort she’s in); she knew there were folks in the world who found ways to be prejudiced against people like her parents legally and socially. But she hadn’t experienced it directly yet, in an antagonistic way like this. Her teacher isn’t equipped to deal with the situation, it seemed to me after a 20 minute chat after school when I finally learned of the incident from my daughter. But something like this video can help her, if for no other reason but that she can learn and yet won’t have to feel as defensive, looking in the face of a parent she has come to appreciate, talking about a student she has come to love, and has let down.

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