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Opinion: Teachers, Time to Ban Derogatory Language

Opinion: Teachers: Time to Ban Derogatory Language

Keeping up with monitoring a classroom environment may be tough for teachers, but there are easy ways that teachers can ban derogatory language and other bullying behaviors in the classroom. 

So says Dr. Carmen Cruz, a psychologist who shared her opinion on ways to ban derogatory language in classrooms in an article on HuffingtonPost.com.

Cruz said because just October was National Bullying Prevention Month doesn't mean that stopping bullying in schools ends, and "we still have a ways to go in zero tolerance in schools for bullying."

"The American Psychological Association defines bullying as aggressive, repeated and intentional behavior designed to show an imbalance of power," she said. "One out of three students is bullied during the school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics."

Cruz said that there are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical.

"Verbal is one of the most commonly used forms of bullying," Cruz said in the article. "For example, it is common to hear the following daily in our K-12 hallways throughout the country."

'Hey, sissy boy, what are you afraid of?'

'Yo, girl, you are too fat; you'd be prettier if you lost weight.'

'Are you sure you are a girl?'

'You better watch it, I am going to destroy you.'

'She's a slut; she sleeps with all the guys.'

'Watch it with him, I caught him looking at me in the showers.'

'That's so gay.'

"'That's so gay' is heard multiple times a day," Cruz said, who adds that she is also gay in the article. "In the 2011 Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's [GLSEN] annual school climate survey, over 70 percent of students reported often hearing homophobic slurs in school and almost 85 percent said they heard gay used in a pejorative manner."

Cruz said many teacher "say they feel powerless in dealing with bullying in their classrooms, particularly with all of the other demands placed on them."

"I also know teachers want to be helpful and do not want children to hurt," she added. "Talk to any teacher and most will identify their desire to make a difference in the lives of children as a primary motivator for their choice of vocation. They love children and want to be allies to children."

Cruz then offers three tips "teachers and administrators to use as they battle specifically LGBTQ verbal bullying."

The first tip is to "come out as an Ally."

It may be difficult for teachers to come out as an Ally, perhaps due to personal belief systems or fear of administration," she said. "And these are real fears. However, it is more important that a teacher challenge themselves to be an Ally in the classroom for all students, than to perpetuate not confronting issues that merit it."

One way, Cruz said, is to have "an LGBTQ symbol in your classroom such as a rainbow or equality sign."

"Students are watching to see a teacher's actions and words, thus teachers have an opportunity to share information that the kids do not receive anywhere else about LGBTQ teenagers and people," she said. "In particular, sexual minority students are listening to see if a teacher is creating a safe space for them."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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