Articles tagged with tolerance

A less tolerant and sensitive motherland?

800px-Buck_palace_soldiers_arpAt my son’s school, the term “gay” is bandied about a lot—but not to tease someone for their sexual orientation. As I understand it, the term has evolved into an expression of disdain . . . a synonym for stupidity.

In other words, if you express a dumb idea, your friend will respond with “that’s gay.”

Clearly there’s a derogatory undertone—and the roots of its usage lie in our cultural attitudes about homosexuality.

But my impression is that most kids are oblivious to that—or thoughtless about how a gay student might react to the term. Students use it because everyone else is doing so.

Kids are rather oblivious creatures.

Now, in a perfect world, local educators will slap down such expressions—in a thoughtful, professional manner. One would hope they would see a student’s remark as an opportunity for a “learning moment,” a time to discuss the nuance and subtlety of prejudices and the power of words to hurt.

That would be ideal. Although, if you live in Great Britain, there’s a chance you’ll simply be branded a bigot—even if you’re a four-year-old preschooler.

At least, that’s the impression I gathered from a Daily News headline from London: “30,000 pupils branded as bigots: Teachers log ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic’ jibes in playground squabbles, even at nursery.”

Naomi Dillon|January 20th, 2011|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

Satirical rally also sends serious message about lack of tolerance in U.S.

This past Saturday, more than 200,000 people descended on the National Mall for a rally about restoring sanity, or poking fun of those trying to rev up fear. (And thousands more watched from home or got stuck trying to get there).

I was there–sort of–as comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert led Comedy Central’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a satiric counterprotest to the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin rally a few weeks ago. I walked many blocks and got as far as the porta-johns and couldn’t see or hear anything because of the huge masses of people. Still, it was entertaining.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear  
Jon Stewart – Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or Fear The Daily Show The Colbert Report


Naomi Dillon|November 3rd, 2010|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |

Inauguration provides teachable moment for young and old alike

My mother finally got her party last night.

Over the years, since the Bush administration came into office, she’s dealt with countless cases of berating and bullying from neighbors and friends, some of which was alcohol-induced, who live in a Tennessee retirement/resort community. Even the president of the local GOP nicknamed her “special ed.” (obviously he hasn’t studied his party’s positions on federal special education funding).

I often thought of these people when I was writing “The Importance of Civics Education,” which appeared in ASBJ’s January issue. While I was writing (around the time of the election) we got an email from a counselor in Louisiana who reported that some of her African-American students were being bullied by McCain supporters, unfortunate incidents that probably went underreported. I also spoke with the group Teaching Tolerance, part of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which had anticipated some backlash and prepared a kit of classroom exercises to help ease the tensions, available on their website.

“One of the things teachers can do is recognize that this is not just a matter of policies, it’s really about young people and their emotional investment and their identity,” Senior Editor Tim Lockette says. “It’s a time to address issues of identity and get young people to think about, ‘what is my role?'”

Last night, some of the few and proud Obama supporters in my mom’s neighborhood threw an extravagant party to celebrate not only Obama’s symbolism and the inauguration, but also the departure of an administration that appeared to dismiss non-conforming ideals and underhandedly encouraged bullying.      

Nevertheless, it wasn’t just celebrating with like-minded friends that my mom excitedly told me about this morning, it was a 9-year-old boy, Jackson, the son of one of her friends.

Naomi Dillon|January 21st, 2009|Categories: Governance, Diversity, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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