Anti-bullying policy: Mental gymnasties in the CC Times
Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on Jan 30, 2011
With whatever respect might be due, balancing the concepts of "nobody should be bullied," "schools shouldn't involve themselves in these issues" and "gay-bashing should be ignored" requires mental gymnastics that are way beyond my powers.
Note that we're not talking about Curriculum, here, but student Conduct Policy, so the 3Rs argument is essentially meaningless. It may resonate with those who worry about US schools losing ground to foreign competition, but it strikes a false note of relevancy. Rules of Conduct, whether they be "no running in the halls" or "no smoking in the girls' room," have to be enforced to provide a safe, unfettered learning environment for all students. Anti-bullying policy needs no further justification than this. That it is also good preparation for life in a free, pluralistic society is a bonus.
Gay and lesbian students (real or as imagined by their tormentors) are frequent objects of bullying, thus disrupting their learning environments, as well as those of the many other students who accept them. As noted, the term "gay" has also apparently been popular as a general term of negativity. Gays are thus included in policy coverage because it's important to do so, just as a matter of volume. On the flip side, what if gays were to be excluded from the policy? Would that not send a message of free rein to bullies: bullying is actually okay, as long as you choose your targets well?
The call to label the inclusion of gay-bashing within the Conduct Policy as "homosexual activism" is similarly discordant. If bullying overweight kids is included within the prohibitions, does Mr. Arata think that encourages poor eating habits? What about short people, Randy Newman satires notwithstanding? Does that encourage poor posture? "Bad" genetics? These are all "status offenses" they are prone to neither encouragement, nor discouragement they just "are." This is a time-honored test, but there's no better example of the concept: kindly ask yourself when you made the choice to adopt the heterosexual lifestyle?
I believe that sentiments expressed by Mr. Arata mostly reflect a discomfort with "difference." They are reminiscent of earlier civil rights struggles where folks in the majority were happy to sign-on in the abstract, as long as a black/Jewish/Asian family didn't move in next door. It's an understandable desire to remain contained in one's familiar comfort zone: here, "gays are all right, as long as they stay in their closets and don't flaunt it (really?) in my face." I hope, instead, that those folks will choose to emerge from their own self-imposed closets and embrace the world as it is -- that they adopt a lifestyle of tolerance and acceptance.
My two cents. Yours?