The recent suicides of two young boys after repeated bullying at school have made many of us, myself included, wonder what we could do. One of the ways the HRC Foundation Family Project has responded is to push up the May release of its "Introduction to Welcoming Schools" guide, "An Inclusive Approach to Addressing Family Diversity, Gender Stereotyping and Name-Calling in K-5 Learning Environments." It is now available at the Welcoming Schools Web site, and chock-full of resources, ideas, exercises, and additional reading suggestions.
I covered the project when it first launched as a pilot program over a year ago. I'm pleased to hear that it has only gotten better after tests in New Bedford, Mass., and urban locations in the Midwest and West Coast.
Ellen Kahn, director of the Family Project, explains:
The new [online] publication includes findings from the first year of the pilot (12 schools in 3 districts thus far) and is essentially a scaled-down version of the full Guide--a primer, you might say. This is a great resource for LGBT parents, educators, and all concerned adults who are part of K-5 environment who want to more effectively address LGBT diversity/inclusion as part of their broader approach to anti-bullying/safe schools/character-development programs and curricula.
As Lawrence J. Finnerty, Ed.D., Retired Assistant Superintendent of the New Bedford Public Schools, said in his introduction to the Guide, "To expect that students will know how to handle issues related to teasing, gender stereotyping and bullying without specific, well-informed instruction is folly." I know not everyone here agrees with everything HRC does, but I urge you to give the Guide a look, regardless. It is one of the best places I've found for parents and educators to learn how to provide just the kind of instruction that is needed.
For more safe-schools materials, see my Back-to-School Resource List over at Mombian.