Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day, where we all wear pink shirts to support the idea that bullying is wrong.
My problem with it is that it seems not like a defensive move to support the kids who get bullied, but an aggressive move by anyone even remotely tied to the LGBT lobby. Now, I have gay friends, who I love and respect. One of my friends married his man this past summer. I support their need for legal rights, I don't totally get why they wanted to get married in a church, but that is a completely different matter than the right of EVERY person to have an education free from any form of persecution.
The few gay students I have encountered here in the east kootenays have been persecuted, to be sure. But it seems that it is not different from the way that anyone who is different and speaks out about it is persecuted. A few of my students who are christians have been teased so mercilessly that they are about to be homeschooled to escape what they feel is torture. I constantly defend a student with special needs because others are teasing this one. Bullying has more to do with pack mentality, mimetic violence and the fact that someone is different than the crowd. This means that if anyone is gay, religious, weak, strong, ugly, pretty, famous, or anything other than the majority of the group, they will be singled out and challenged for their difference. I don't like it, but it's how students behave in my classes. It's terrible.
The other problem with the 'anti-bullying' movement is that it is not getting anywhere near the root of the problem. To tell kids not to be bullies or whatever we say to them is completely meaningless. They don't get it. If a kid grows up being bullied (or hurt, or whatever) by their parents, of course they are going to hurt other people. It's how they have learned to live. So its not something that can be legislated or programmed, it's something that starts at home.
In music, I have the chance to teach students not only the form and content of music, but something about community because community is an integral part of creating music. When my groups are larger and voluntary, the doors will be firmly shut to anyone who shows unwillingness to learn how to belong to a group where trust and vulnerability are key values.
Oh, and teaching was better today. It's all a work in progress. Even my thoughts on this matter (pink shirt day) are progressing and I may see it differently in the future, but for now I don't like the way that it is framed. Don't get me wrong, if a kid uses the word 'gay' as a negative epithet, I don't let up until everyone in the class knows that it is completely unacceptable. I did it once in september, and I haven't heard it since. I will defend everyone's right to do their thing, but I don't think that one group deserves special attention over and above other groups. Why don't Aboriginal students get a day to be defended against bullying? God knows it happens.