Sunday, October 27, 2013

In the Service of Charity...or Change?

Talking Points #6 - Argument on "In the Service of What?" by Kahne and Westheimer


First of all, let me say that all these articles that we have read class so far has made me look life at differently.  Am I the only one who is psychoanalyzing everything that I do now?  I have to constantly catch myself saying the phrase "good job" and now this article has challenged me to think about the motives of my own service learning!  Am I giving or caring? I ask that question because that's the central argument in this entire piece.



Kahne and Westhimer give a brief historical background about Service Learning and the benefits that come from it.  However, they illustrate two different types of Service Learning, charity and change. Who knew there was a difference between charity and change? I was always under the impression that if philanthropic you're fighting for a change.  Charity is just merely giving to someone that is in need whereas, when you do something for change you are caring because you learn to understand the people that are in need.  Or how Kahne and Westheimer put it, change becomes present when "the others reality becomes a real possibility for me." 



The first example provided is the differing service learning project techniques between Mr. Johnson's class and that of Ms. Adams'.  Johnson let his students decide what they wanted to do and every kid had a different service learning project that dealt with different issues.  However, Ms Adams opted for a different route and decided to pick homelessness as the center for their project and every kid had to do something regarding that issue.  Ms. Adams' class learned about their topic before going out their and actually doing their service learning project.  These two classrooms dealt more with charity than change becuase like Kahne and Westheimer said, most students would just do chores and not really help anybody.

I understand what they are saying somewhat.  They are arguing that service learning should be more than just giving! For example, if you are feeding homeless people at a soup kitchen, you should strive more than just to serve them a plate.  The true service leaning comes from when you can learn from the homeless people.  Success is reached when you can take something away from it that changes your mindset. Basically to implement change is to analyze the issues that get those homeless people in that situation to begin and to see how we can change that. Think back to when Kahne and Wertheimer talked about how the parents from the wealthy school had a problem with their children going to a poor school.  They were surprised to find out that the kids at the poor school were some of the nicest people they have ever met! This is an example of change! They were able to leave with a different mindset.

I can relate this article to Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job, only because these articles both gave
me something to really think about  that never even crossed my mind before and that's how they intersect.  Much like I never realized how detrimental it was to say "Good Job" to a child, I never knew how much the word "charity" was different from what I thought it was.  Charity is just the act of giving and it doesn't do anything to change the world. Sometimes the world doesn't need a "homeless survival kit" but rather someone to understand what social issues got them there to begin with and work towards changing that! So I will not say I that I'm involved charity but rather I'm involved with change. However, I will forever say good job whether or not it's psychologically bad for a child. Sorry but I like saying it

When I think of my service learning at my elementary school, I wonder if I'm working towards charity or change.  I work with behavioral students and sometimes I feel like I'm doing the same things over again and the kids are getting bored.  I never want to be that person that just shows up to just to get their hours in. I've made every effort to really get to know these kids to find out what they like and now I'm more confident in taking control over the assignments for the day!  I know I'm supposed to follow the reading coach's instructions but the kids don't like doing the same things over and over again! I feel like these teacher's fail to understand these students aren't stupid just because they have behavioral issues. Their goal is for change, to get these students to a higher reading level but they are failing to see the issues surrounding this! So I'm taking this service learning opportunity as a change not charity. I'm not going to simple give them assignments to do. I'm going to be creative and see what inspires them to learn and what makes them not want to learn! I will get those students to a higher reading level! 


Points To Share:

What can we do with our own service learning projects this semester that will help promote change rather than charity?  I personally after reading this article have been even more motivated. If you think about it, when we visit these classrooms the kids are so used to see people come and go so they really aren't getting any stability.  What are they learning? Are they actually learning from us? How can we change these kids' lives? 



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hey Disney! Why So Secretive? (The SCWAAMP Reality Of The Secret Education)


Talking Points #5 - Connections (Based on Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us")


Let me start off by saying that I was super excited to read this article because it deals with the media and pop culture, two of my favorite things! I decided that for this week I would do a connections piece because I'm currently doing a research paper for my English 202 class on the same topic of Disney and the favorited ideologies found within each of the animated films. So I will be using Disney's animated features as the focal point as I use Christensen's piece and other great texts as navigational devices to show how SCWAAMP appears in these films.  I will refer back to many previous class readings we did but the major piece I'm connecting will be SCWAAMP.  This will be a rather long blog because I will try and hit every ideology of SCWAAMP but the information that follows will be so entertaining and interesting that will leave you in awe on how many things you didn't know about your beloved childhood movies. 

Straightness:

Typical Prince and Princess!
(Cinderella and Prince Charming)
Christensen did a very good job pointing out how women and other non-white races may be oppressed in
Disney Films but she forgot about one important group in that list, The LGBT community.  Where is the LGBT community in Disney Films? Gerri August would definitely disagree with Disney on this issue. By actively not acknowledging the existence of LGBT individuals, you're erasing them and this is absolutely detrimental to their psychological growth development. Gay and lesbians characters aren't explicitly promoted by Disney, so if you search for gay individuals in these films your less likely to find them.  However, it would be easier to focus on the absence of LGBT characters and how heterosexuality is being instilled as the dominant ideology by Disney. A typical Disney Movie follows this basic formula: a man(prince) and a woman(princess) fall in love and live happily ever after.  When children watch these movies "in the warmth of their mother's or father's laps" it "becomes accepted knowledge."  Unfortunately, they are presented that the only kind of love acceptable is heterosexual love.  So, if a gay or lesbian or even transgender child are watching these movies they are being erased, they aren't able to connect to any character in the movie. What if this child is watching these movies with their two dads or two moms? How is this going to make them feel? Their family life will seem unimportant.

However there is one critic out there that argues Disney's Beauty and The Beast is a story in which all the three main characters are gay (Belle, Gaston, and Beast). The article is entitled "Yep Gaston's Gay: Disney and The Beauty of a Beastly Love" by Peter Steeves. He goes on to say that Gaston and Beast are gay but that Gaston has seen how society treats gay individuals so he's forced to hide it while Beast is locked away in his castle for about twenty years and isn't to privy to the straight privilege that exists in society. Steeves also goes on to say that Belle is a lesbian because she had the opportunity to marry almost every guy in town and consistently turned them down. He mentions that the only reason the Beast falls for Belle is because the curse calls for a woman to break the curse. It's something to think about that's for sure. However, I'll still be waiting to see a gay hero as the leading part in a Disney animated feature.





Christianity:

Frollo threatening Esmerelda
Christianity is the dominant ideology of religion in America and is one of the hardest to find in Disney Films.  This is another ideology that Christensen doesn't really hone in on as much because you really have to study the films carefully to find it.  There is only one Disney Film that comes directly to mind when thinking about Christianity playing a critical role in the plot and that movie is The Hunchback of Notre Dame which was released in 1996 during the Eisner Era.  The entire plot centers around the so called "outcasts" of Paris that is including the main protagonist Quasimodo and his gypsy friend Esmerelda.  The villain, Judge Claude Frollo is an evil man set to assassinate the entire gypsy population because he believes that they embody black magic.  In his mind they are anti-christians. What is this teaching, that every individual who practices a different religion, should be targeted? In a way, Frollo himself is a paradox to the plot.  He is a self dubbed "righteous" man but his actions contradict that statement.  If anyone is anti-christian in the film it would be him.  We see him in the beginning of the film kill Quasi's mother, who was also a gypsy.  He then is indebted with taking care of Quasi which he didn't want.  He's hellbent on killing the entire gypsy population of the present day and he is tempted by the seductiveness of Esmerelda.  He is sort of in lust with her.  



Notre Dame Cathedral
There is some form of justice at the end of the film when Frollo is defeated by the hero and all the "outcasts"can freely but is it enough to counter act the entire isolation of an entire group?  However, there is a positive connotation of Christianity in this film as well. The Notre Dame Cathedral is probably the focal point in the movie. Everything revovles around that church, Quasi is locked away there, the epic final battle takes place there, and it's sanctuary for the gypsies and outcasts.  The church is the only thing that can protect the gypsies from Frollo's wrath.  Sort of like St. Ann's Church in New York where Kozol met Cliffe. St. Ann's is located right in the center of a dangerous New York neighborhood that acts like sanctuary for the youth.  It's an escape and a positive environment for Cliffe and his peers. Getting back to The Hunchback, Frollo was the one negative force in this film that portrayed Christianity in a negative light. He was very strict to the word of God enforcing his values throughout society which isn't acceptable. However, he is defeated and that signals to children that his actions were bad and there are consequences for that.  Notre Dame a staple of Christianity served as a protection offering children the lesson that it will protect you at your worst times?  Is Christianity the only religion that can save you?

This picture made me chuckle a little bit lol

Whiteness:

Tiana, Disney's first African American Princess
"A black Cinderella? Give me a break." Christensen is giving an account of one of her student's thoughts on the lack of black heroines in Disney films.  This student who's name is Kenya goes on to say the following as well, "Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princesses. This is another major problem that has been reinforced in Disney's Animated Classics for years now. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Disney's first animated classic and was released in 1937. Since that time there have been more than fifty Disney animated films produced and only one showcasing an African American as the lead.  The Princess and the Frog was released in 2009 with it's first black Princess named Tiana. I believe it was long overdue; 72 years since Disney's first princess. It's essential to incorporate everyone because when you marginalize certain groups it really does have a significant impact. It was fair that black children couldn't relate to the heroines/princesses. It's not just black kids, it's for every non-white child out there that feels excluded.

An interesting point to be noted is that villains like Maleficent and Ursula are not white. They are sinister and evil, out to destroy the Princesses in the film and Disney decides to make them of a different color. Why can't they be white like their counterparts in the film? One of Christensen's students pointed this out. "Look, Ursula the sea witch is ugly and smart. Hey she's kind of dark looking." Is Disney going to literal with the villains being dark and sinister? Is this implying that only people of color have to be villains. They should be only to be heroes too. We were first introduced to white privilege with Johnson and he mentions that it takes place whether you decide to acknowledge it or not. If you are not white, then there's a chance you've been discriminated against at some point in your life. Like the comparison he gave to a white homeless man to a black homeless man, society is going to give the black homeless man a harder than the white one.  I wonder if the same thought process subconsciously occurs when people compare Tiana from The Princess and The Frog to the other princesses. 

Ablebodiedness:


"My waist didn't dip into an hourglass; in fact, according to the novels I read my thick ankles doomed me to be cast as the peasant woman reaping hay while the heroine swept by with her handsome man in hot pursuit." Christensen has a lot to say about ablebodiedness in this text.  Disney heroines/princesses are expected to fit the Americanized idea of beauty. They need to be unrealistically slender and they need to exude some sort of charm. Only pretty skinny girls get to be princesses! This is the message that is being sent and I think it's disgusting because beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. To insinuate that only pretty girls get a happy ever after is very destructive to the psychology of little girls watching these films.  They start to constantly compare themselves to these characters and start becoming self conscious of their bodies. "When women do appear, they look like Jessica Rabbit or Playboy Centerfolds" (Christensen 130).


Who ever said big girls don't do it better than skinny girls
girls was obviously misinformed. Ursula you WORK IT!




One thing I noticed in Disney's The Little Mermaid, is that Ariel was disabled for most of the film. Many of you probably already know the story of Ariel making a deal with the Sea Witch Ursula that would make her human for three days. However, in order to make this happen Ariel needed to surrender her voice to Ursula. So for the majority of the films Ariel was a mute and it significantly made it harder for her. She was a mermaid turned human who also lost the capabilities to speak. How was she ever to land her man now that she couldn't speak?  Prince Eric and his subjects would also misconstrue what she intended to say. You could tell that it was obvious that they were treating her like a girl with a disability. This reminds me of Delpit's The Silenced Dialogue. Literally, Ariel couldn't speak and she was new that environment. Ariel wasn't apart of the culture of power because she wasn't being heard throughout the film. She wasn't heard even before she lost her voice. Her own father barely listened to what she wanted inevitably making her sell her soul to Ursula.  Much like the African American teachers who would raise questions to the white teachers but were never heard is almost identical to this situation. Christensen would say that Ariel's literal Silenced Dialogue had affect with her chance to land her man of her dreams. Remember only the perfect girl with no flaws got the Prince. For example, when Ursula used Ariel's voice and disguised herself as a human, Prince Eric was getting ready to leave Ariel. Really, you go for someone just because their voice sounds pretty!?

I would say that Ariel is not in the code of power!





Americanness:


Christensen gives us an example of how Americanness is favored in society via a Popeye episode. "Ali
Baba and the 40 Thieves," that depicts all Arabs with the same face, same turban, same body--and they are all thieves swinging enormous swords" (130).  This misrepresentation of the Arab community is not good because the children watching this are going to assume all Arabs are thieves and that is racism at it's finest.  The hero of the cartoon is a white american man who helps stop the Arabs who are dubbed the "bad guys", implying the superiority of Americanness.  After all this cartoon was created and produced in America, so to see american as the the dominant ideology is not surprising.   


One Disney Classic that comes to mind, while thinking of society favoring Americanness is Lady and The Tramp. It's very subtle but I feel like there is some merit behind my philosophy.  From my perspective, the two Siamese Cats are a symbol that oppresses the oriental community.  Before, I state my reasons for my claim, I must provide you with some background information that will hopefully enlighten you about the claim I'm to make.  In 1882, this country constituted The Chinese Exclusion Act that lasted until December 17th, 1943.  This act prevented any Chinese or Oriental person from gaining citizenship into the country. When these said people tried to come to America to chase the American Dream they were sent and imprisoned at a place called Angel Island, which was like a cross between Ellis Island and Guantonomo Bay. This was the first time in American History that one Ethnic group was refused entry into the country.  Walt Disney was born in 1901 and lived in the country while the Exclusion Act was in effect.  Lady and The Tramp was released in 1955 but began production a few years before. 


Going back to the Siamese Cats in The Lady and the Tramp, they are presented as two menacing and evil characters.  They are the pets of Aunt Sarah who also a very mean character in the film. These two Oriental cats are literally confined to Aunt Sarah's carrying basket and are only seen when she leaves. Once they are out of the basket they release their hell on poor Lady who in the end gets blamed for all their wrong doings. When the Chinese were sent to Angel Island they were literally imprisoned in cell for numerous years and put to work for a country they weren't citizens, but prisoners for. So that basket that those cats are in are like the cell confining them.  Look what happened when they escaped, they caused trouble for the pure bread American girl, Lady.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I think it's subtly defaming the Oriental community. 

Americanness has been presented in many of the class readings so far, but the one that sticks out the most is Aria. Where Rodriguez was forced to give up his culture to fully become American. He was told to give up his Spanish roots and learn strictly English. When he didn't know English he felt confined sort of like he was placed in that basket with those two cats. He was isolated from the American Culture for not being American enough.  So much for the melting pot, huh?





Maleness:


"I don't want students to believe that change can be bought at the mall, nor do I want them thinking that the pinnacle of a woman's life is an "I do" that supposedly leads them to a "happily ever after." Christensen actively takes a stance on how maleness is a prominent ideology in society. When topics arise in the classroom of making the princess black or of a different ethnicity, Christensen doesn't believe that will fully eliminate other problems. She then uses the cartoon Popeye again to show how women are the submissive stereotype in most cartoons and that the man is the one that saves the day. 

The book that I read entitled Good Girls &Wicked Witches: Women in Disney's Feature Animation by Amy M. Davis illuminates women's role in Disney even more. This book is a very enjoyable read and provides you with a lot to think about. To begin let's talk about the heroines/princesses of the Disney Films. Davis states that these princesses including Snow White and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) attain their happy endings by doing absolutely nothing. Passivity is key to happiness in women. She then argues that the female Disney Villains are the hard working, go-getters, that work hard to try attain their own happy ending but fail miserably all the time. This definitely says something about how women were perceived in this time period. It's implying that women should be passive and that happiness will eventually come to you no matter how long you wait. This is definitely hindering to all female because it's teaching them to not be independent individuals. To show hard working women getting defeated is detrimental because it's reinforcing the fact that women need a man to rely on, which I think is total B.S. To be honest I've always liked the villains much more than the so-called "heroes." At least a villain will try to get shit done and they look fabulous doing it!

VS. 




It was also brought up how the women in the Disney Film is always willing to give her life up for the man. Almost every Princess leaves her life behind to start a new one with her man.  Why do women have to give up their lives in order to appease their suitors. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel gives up everything her whole life under the sea just to be with a man. She had to grow accustomed to a whole new way of life just so that she could be with him. This shouldn't be a message that young girls are receiving. 

Ariel willing to give up her life!



Finally, the role of the man in the film! As mentioned earlier, Aurora literally did nothing but sleep and she still got her man. She was asleep practically half the movie and all her wishes come true without her having to work for it. Prince Phillip in the Sleeping Beauty is given all the praise by defeating Maleficent. Look at the prince in Snow White who only made like fifty second cameo throughout and received all the praise. He was praised for saving Snow White by bringing her back to life. The dwarfs also get credited for defeating the witch. No matter how long a man is in these films they always end up looking the hero at the end and they receive all the credit. However, in later Disney Films this started to shift as women were given roles that showed them as the heroes.



Property Ownership:

Snow White's Castle
This one is kind of obvious in Disney Films.  Property ownership plays a significant part in most of Disney's animated classics. If you look at the features that contain Princess and Princes such as Snow White, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast you see that property ownership plays a significant part. The same message is being put forth in all of these films, that you need to find a man that's filthy rich, that has a high social class, and that owns a lavish mansion, in order to live happier ever after. If the heroines are not already heir to their own family fortunes, they end up attaining some type of fortune by the end of film, most typically when they meet their "prince charming." Is money really that important? I don't like this message that Disney is implying through children's movies because the idea of meeting the man of your dreams and whisking away to his mansion in a fairy tale land, is pretty convoluted. Money isn't synonymous with happiness. 

Castle in Beauty and The Beast


POINTS TO SHARE:
Do you think that movies really have a huge impact on children? Do children really absorb these subtle messages and the ideologies of society they represent? Is there anything that parents can do or say to their children while watching these beloved classics or should the movies just not be watched anymore? I personally feel that Disney needs to take bigger "risks" and and try to relate to everyone to avoid marginalization. 







Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Don't Care About A "Good Job" Because I'm Not Learning From You!

Talking Points #4: Extended Comments (Based on Shanelle's Blog)



So for this week's blog entry, I decided to do an extended comments piece on Shanelle's post entitled "People, including kids, don't like to be judged," which insightfully delves deep into the main points of this week's readings, "I Won't Learn From You" by Kohl and "Five Reason to Stop Saying "Good Job"".

Let's start with the article that presents us with five reasons for us to stop saying the phrase, "GOOD JOB!"  I totally agree with Shanelle when she said this article was total eye opener.  Like Shanelle, I too never realized how much more harm the phrase evokes than good!  I myself, always that that Good Job was the right thing to say and I'm not going to lie, I use it often during my my service learning project. Note to self, refrain from saying Good Job!

I related immediately to the paragraph in which Shanelle reflects on how her adult self is affected by the "Good Job" "reward". I felt the same exact way when reading this piece. I self reflected on my adult self and examined my everyday tasked and wondered if I too were striving for that "reward" or any inkling that I did a great job!  Like Shanelle, I'm guilty of this but is it bad, that we strive to hear a Good Job every once in a while? "When finishing a time consuming or difficult task at work, if I didn't get a "good job" at the end did I feel some how I failed in my efforts?"(Shanelle) This made me think about the work, when I'm assigned a difficult task and complete it exceptionally well, I'm going to be very honest and say that I like to hear I did a good job.

As adults we bribe/manipulate kids with this phrase whether we mean to or not.  I also agree when Shanelle states that we need to emphasize that a child can not receive or expect a reward for every time they complete something.  Why? Because this hinders the child.  This will make that child depend on the adult who is constantly rewarding them.  We must allow the children to solve things are their own and for them to fully experience their achievement, we as adults need not to interfere.  I wonder if Shanelle, like myself is guilty of saying "Good Job" in Service Learning. However, I was never using it as a "calculated tactic" I genuinely thought they were doing great jobs when the completed something. My bad, I guess. (Kohn touches base with that on the #2 reason.)


Who else is dying laughing at what's inside the parenthesis?
Dramatic much?

Reading the article "I Won't Learn From You" I couldn't help but think about the article we read earlier entitled Aria by Richard Rodriguez and how they deal with sort of the same things but they differ.  For example if you look at the very opening paragraph about the grandfather Wilfredo who refused to learn English because the Spanish culture wouldn't survive if they didn't.  I know that beginning paragraph is just an intro to the main argument of how some times some students refuse to learn to make a statement, which Shanelle points out in her first quote but I think it's a nice contrast to the Aria piece.  In "Aria" he learned English willingly where as Wilfredo was not-learning.  There is one way these articles intersect, where Wilfredo states that learning English would diminish his Spanish Culutre was proven a little when Rodriguez mentioned how the closeness of his family diminished once the kids became fluent in English.  "I Won't Learn From You" shows us how failure is not synonymous with not trying to learn. Many are quick to judge and deem someone as a failure because they are not-learning.  



"No failure is possible since there has been no attempt to learn." Shanelle chose this as her first quote which I think is great because it really sums up what the entire article is about.  She mentioned that some kids just refuse to learn because they want to make a statement such as the little boy who pretended he didn't know how to read.  I agree with this quote because you can't fail at something you've never started! You need to want to learn to learn and that is the teachers job to ensure that!

"The System's problem becomes them victims problem."  Shanelle used this quote to point out that there are flaws within the system that influences some children which cause them to react in a defiant
way and take the status of not-learning. It really isn't the kids fault if they can't adapt themselves to a certain curriculum. "The educational program should be looked at under the microscope not an individual." Shanelle took the words right out of my mouth.  Don't label an entire race as  lazy and stupid such as that teacher did in this article but look at the curriculum that is contributing to the to the lack of desire these students have to learn.

"Until we learn to distinguish not-learning from failure and respect the truth behind this massive rejection of schooling by students from poor and oppressed communities, it will not be possible to solve the major problems of education in the United States today." Shanelle simply explained we need to wake up and smell the coffee and to not automatically define someone as a failure.  There's a difference of never tried and failed and that needs to be defined.  


Points To Share: 
How often do we use the phrase "Good Job" in our daily routine?  Think about when your with your little brothers, sisters, cousins, students! Do we subconsciously throw this phrase around like it's a reward. Also think back to what Shanelle pointed out about how it may affect us as adults.  Do we as adults strive for a reward?


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Building Safe Spaces

Talking Points #3: Reflection:


Preach it Honey Boo Boo Child!
First of all let me say, that this article was very personal to me. I've decided to do a reflection of this piece entitled Safe Spaces by Gerri August because I know that in order for me to dissect it properly I need to acknowledge my own personal experiences. This was written to aid teachers and other potential teacher in caring for LGBT children in their classrooms. Creating a safe space is essential and extremely important for the prevention of all unnecessary teen suicides due to anti-LGBT harassment. 

Okay, so where do I begin.  Let me start off by coming out and saying that I am gay and that meaning that I once was an LGBT youth so I know how extremely important these safe spaces really are.  To say that growing up gay in this society is easy is just a down right lie, and many people who are not apart of the LGBT community will never understand it.  "Straightness and gender conformity are assumed, LGBT identity is deviant" (August 84).  This is one of the many problems that the LGBT community face.  Heterosexism is overly instilled in the mindset of almost everyone that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people are seen as deviant, something that is wrong or morally corrupt.  This pisses me off because obviously being gay isn't wrong! The mindsets of anti-LGBT individuals are wrong. Sexual orientation is a part of life and just like skin color, it's not a choice. It's not like people just voluntarily choose to be crucified in a heterosexual dominated society.  

People magazine depicting
three accounts of teen
suicide due to
anti-LGBT harassment.
The biggest issue that is made aware in this article is how much words have an impact of the LGBT community.  Many LGBT teens are bullied to an extent where they see no other alternative than to take their own life.  This hurts me to the core because nobody should have to take their own life because they are made to feel like an outsider. Suicide should never be the answer  but sometimes the hurt is so extreme that your left with two options, suicide or continuing to live as an emotionally dismembered human being because due to all the anti-LGBT harassment.  For example, when August gave the example of Tabby Aaberg.  Tammy's fifteen year old son committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay and that just broke my heart.  He was bullied by his peers at school and this left me wondering where the hell the parental guidance was at the school. Tammy said the following about the staff, "Most of the teachers and principals...mean well--they want to intervene. But the teachers still don't know what they can and can't do."  This is where the importance of a safe space comes into effective.  If the staff instilled the normalcy of homosexuality than this suicide wouldn't have happened.  Lucky for me, growing up I was blessed to have great parents especially my mother. She raised me to have extremely tough skin in every facet of my life and to not give a damn what people thought of me.  I quickly adopted this mindset and it's very beneficial.  Yes, growing up gay was hard but I was fortunate to have a great mindset. Words did and still hurt me, I am human after all but I just learned to stand off for myself and give those words no importance. Just because I was fortunate to have this way of thinking doesn't mean there are others who do.  Some LGBT teens experience a great deal of psychological damage.  So  a teacher controlling the language in a classroom is imperative. 

I often think back to Johnson's piece on privilege.  Straightness being the dominant ideology of today's society had a lot of emphasis in this article.   Especially, when it came to including LGBT educational material in elementary school. I think it's important to educate kids on the LGBT community because this will lessen the chance that these kids will grow up with a bigoted attitude towards homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual people. I was shocked that some states even have Anti-LGBT teaching laws. Like, really? Alabama even goes as far as say that homosexual poses a health risk!  Like calm down mofos, being gay is a construction of certain individuals, it's not the flu, you aren't going to get sick! There are some foolish people out there. Or let's talk about how one teacher candidate didn't like the fact that same sex parents was being taught in school! How do you expect those children who have two dads, two moms, or even those that live with their grandparents to relate and identify their place in the classroom.  Reiterating what Johnson had said, that being gay in a dominant straight culture is tough. There are always going to be times where we will get discriminated against.  Being gay, I always have to worry about being discriminated against in certain areas where straight men will not.  It's just the extra challenge of being gay but you get what you can handle in life and I can handle almost anything that comes my way. One day I will have a family and I will be a same sex parent so it's important that the kids see that it's okay.  I will be damned if my kids feel like they don't belong because they have two fathers.  

Before, I conclude I want to address one last thing and I will start with a quote.  "Youth who see themselves as wise or powerful main characters of heroes worthy of celebration and emulation will feel validated, included, and safe inside their classrooms. LGBT youth rarely have this experience."  This is very true for LGBT youth.  If they could see themselves as powerful heroes then they would feel validated and a part of the whole.  But it's hard to do this when the LGBT youth have nothing to model after. For example, homosexuality is seen as a taboo and everybody tries to avoid it but I think is very detrimental in the schools because a safe space should be inclusive not exclusive.  One thing I noticed in schools was that there were some teachers who where gay or lesbian but they kept it hidden because it's something that just wasn't talked about. Sort of like the "silenced dialogue." If straight teachers are talking about their husbands, wives, and children then I think LGBT teachers should too so that LGBT children can relate and have a role model.  This is something that I hope that I can bring to the table as a teacher. Whether, anybody likes it or not I'm going to show off my future husband and future kids just like the rest of them.  I'm going to be a role model for my gays, lesbians, and transgender people! 


Point to Share:
"When someone with authority of a teacher, say describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in a mirror and saw nothing." Think for a moment at how powerful that quote just was. It perfectly sums up the hardships and inner struggle that we LGBT people faced as youths. Can you say that your sexual orientation has made you feel invisible? How can we get LGBT youths to see themselves in the mirror?