safe schools for all: LGBT & everybody

Maybe this has happened to you:  I remember in my first years of teaching two boys approached me, snickering, to ask if they could be a gay couple in the skits the students were creating about families.  Imagining the stereotype-filled rendition they were planning I balked and said no.  At the time I thought this was an appropriate way to make the classroom safe, but since I’ve had a change of heart.

The California Safe Schools Coalition produced a research-based fact sheet about the experiences of young people in middle and high schools.  In one survey 91% of high school students reported hearing negative comments about sexual orientation;  44% reported hearing teachers make such comments.  Two out of every three LGBT identifying students reported being harassed.  The CSSC suggests that teachers counteract these trends by intervening when bias arises and including LGBT people in the curriculum.

Nowadays if I were to assign a skit about families we would be sure to do some prior work about diversity and decide as a class to be respectful and tolerant.  Below are a few more ideas and resources:

Do you have this poster in your classroom?  A visual reminder in the target language can help set ground rules, support students, keep conversations respectful and give students a help with the Spanish needed to express themselves.

This mini-poster is available to be down-loaded in PDF format from the Safe Schools Coalition.

Lo Mejor de Mi Vida Eres Tú  Ricky Martin has a charming song and music video that includes a diversity of couples in loving relationships (well, they are all beautiful people, of course) and addresses prejudice.  It would fit well in any unit discussing relationships, friendships, marriage, etc.  I used this after a short story we read about two people precipitously deciding to get married and in the context of finding your “media naranja.”

YO Ricky Martin also wrote an autobiography, available in Spanish.  In the brief introduction he talks about being a homosexual Puerto Rican man and explains how he struggled with and ultimately rejected what he considered to be a false identity, and how he came to embrace who he is.  You can find excerpts or purchase the book using the internet.  Or ask your library to order it!  The Spanish is not too complicated and could easily be used with a level four or higher class.

Mi Niña Lola is a beautiful song by Concha Buika, a Spanish singer with African roots (Equatorial Guinea) who also identifies as bisexual.  I use this song in a unit on family conflicts and communication between parents and teenagers.  Grammar points include informal commands and the past tenses.  The song is a father’s plea to his daughter who appears to be going through a difficult moment but won’t talk to him about it.  After listening to the song students can give advice to the father and the daughter, trying to understand their perspectives and the possible reasons they arrived at this impasse.

Of course, in recent years the homosexual identity of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca has been rediscovered.  Many upper level Spanish classes read Bodas de Sangre  or La Casa de Bernarda Alba.  Here’s an article (in English) from the theater group Repetorio Español that considers Lorca’s identity in an analysis of the themes of his work and the prevalence and treatment of female characters.

Here’s a link for more resources in Spanish from the Safe Schools Coalition.

About sustainabilityandspanish

Spanish teacher and accidental environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Rights & Solidarity, Tolerance & Diversity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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