Bell rings. The morning announcements. All the clubs and activities start going for the year. The African American Club (for all 10 of our African American kids–barring immigrants who cannot understand why they would ever take part in such a thing), the Model UN, Qualha, Gay -Straight Alliance, Celtic Heart…wait what?
The Gay Straight Alliance?
For people from a different country, which would be 100 percent of my classroom, the questions start popping into their heads…what is that?? Is that where they take Straight people and try to make them Gay? Is that where you go if you want to “turn” gay? And then a little derogatory commentary, usually quiet, sometime outspoken. Sometimes a kid is bold enough to speak up…”Teacher what is that?”
I have been very uncertain of precisely what to say in the past. I reiterate respect, but I haven’t punished beyond verbally rebuking disrespect–to teenagers, this is almost nothing many times. They do not know me as a person at this point, only as the teacher. I never know how much to say, what not to say. I have told them that they have gay teachers “WHO? WHO?” and that I have had gay students and that it is “important to be respectful” I hate even typing the words, they sound so teachery and useless to me. I have never taken the time to really consider what is the right thing to say to them.
- 42 percent slavic (russian, ukrainian, belorussian, moldovan, romanian)
- 42 percent spanish speaking (mostly mexican, but not entirely, quite a few Cuban)
- 10 percent Asian (vietnamese, chinese, one korean once, one filipino once)
- the rest a broad mix–Indian, Fijian, Tibetan, Sierra Leone, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Congolese, Somalian…
About 90 percent of the Slavic students came here to practice Pentecostal Christianity, and wear the long skirts, wear long hair exclusively, marry at the age of 18, and do things like read the bible during break time. The Latino students, well, they are Latino and as different from Russians as east is to west. By and large, my kids do not come from this “post modern” world…they don’t have a sense of entitlement really, they don’t “demand their rights”. But the notion of political correctness is also enitrely bizarre to them.
But as for homosexuality, they are outspoken in their prejudice almost across the board.
So then, what to say exactly, beyond the stuff that they hear so often they don’t even hear it anymore.
I was thinking about it today and I think I might know now.
It’s just to tell them why. And the why is for when they get jobs. So when they have to work with Joe porno fiend, or Mary the pierced lesbian, or Jimmy the bible thumper…and there are kids at home depending on the money they make, they must get along in the world.
What I can’t tell them that would make alot more sense to them is that the first commandment tells them to love their neighbor as themselves, with no qualification as to what that neighbor might do in their life. Or the same Jesus in whom they profess faith spent the bulk of his time with the most cast out people of that time. And that by command and by example, that is how we are to treat the people around us. But I can’t tell them that, (or can I? any input, readers?) and I also can’t tell them that they are to judge nothing before the appointed time. Though, that is the language that most of them speak, and the language that they listen to and value.
But I can’t say any of that last stuff, officially, I don’t think, according to my civil rights in education class, I am not even allowed to wear a cross around my neck. Which is ridiculous, but hey, if it means that a Satan worshipping teacher can’t talk about how great Satan is to my kids, well then, ok.