Category Archives: Media

No Child Left Behind



Our local paper wrote a story on my book; I thought I would share it on my blog (source)

“During his more than 20 years of teaching in elementary schools in Brooklyn, Atlanta and Washington DC, Jason Galvez taught many different classes, several subjects and hundreds of students. And during his time working in Washington, DC, only one of his students came from a home with a mother and a father.

Galvez would spend hours searching through the school libraries for books that depicted all different kinds of family dynamics, and usually came up empty handed.  “I would either have to lie to my students and change the pronouns, or try to order special books that cover diverse families,” said Galvez, who now resides in Manlius. “And instead of continuing to try to find more, I decided to write one.”

On Feb. 25, Galvez’s first book, titled “I Am Loved Right Where I Am,” was released on and on Barnes & Noble’s website. The book follows a little girl named Sylvia who lives with her grandmother in Washington, DC. She takes the reader on a journey to meet all of her friends, who all come from different family dynamics: children who are raised by foster parents, same-sex parents, stepparents, an older sibling, a single parent and even a family with a mother and father.

“For children not just to survive but to thrive in life, your foundation, which is your home, needs to be relatively solid,” he said. “I remember seeing fellow teachers teaching a lesson on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and you would see some kids sort of slump in their chair a little because they didn’t feel belonged. And if we’re going to arm our children for success, it needs to start at home and we need to give them a solid foundation [by enforcing the idea that] where they are is precisely where they belong and that they’re loved.”

Galvez, a self-proclaimed psychology enthusiast, said the bare-bones idea for the book came from psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which states that love and belonging are among the basic human fundamental needs in life.

He began writing the book when he was still living in Washington, DC as a way to help students who may not fit the traditional family dynamic feel that they do belong, and for children who come from homes with a mom and dad to realize that the world they live in is much bigger than what they may see or are used to.  And he’s noticed a real need for the book – since Galvez began working in public schools 20 years ago, he said it’s becoming more and more common to see children coming from untraditional households.

“Even statistically, if you look at the divorce rate ten years ago compared to now it has changed,” he said. “And family dynamics have changed, and we need our media and books to keep up with those changes if we want our children to survive.”

On the last page of the book, Sylvia asks the reader, “What kind of special family do you have?” Galvez hopes the book will be used as a catalyst for family discussion about family dynamics, a topic that’s as uncomfortable to many parents as sex.  A lot of times, for whatever reason, parents don’t want to say, ‘Do you know that so-and-so doesn’t have a dad?’ Or that ‘So-and-so is raised by their sister?’ And I don’t know why that’s such a taboo topic when it’s around us everywhere.”

Proceeds from “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” go directly to charities, Galvez said. Although he wrote the book for a third-grade audience, he’s received emails from parents with toddlers to eighth-graders who have enjoyed the book. To order the book, visit “If I can help one child walk out of their house in the morning feeling a little more confident, my job is done,” he said.”


Please share this post as my book has helped many children and families, and I would love to see it help many more.  For a list of all ordering options;


Barnes & Noble

Signed Copy

Youtube Video

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Education, Esteem, Families, Gods love, Library, Life, Love, Marriage, Media, parents, School, Youth

I Am Loved Right Where I Am



Barnes & Noble

Signed Copy

Youtube Video

I recall my first grade teacher (Ms. Martin) talking about a fun craft project which included the use of scissors.  I was beyond excited and could not wait to begin.  Ms. Martin placed the scissor rack in the center table and off we all dashed with anticipation. To my disappointment however the only options were right-handed scissors.  Being left-handed I did not know how to cut with right-handed scissors but seeing all my classmates I desperately tried.  Try as I may my cut-outs were looking nothing like those of my classmates.  Frustrated I secretly asked myself why I was different.  Ensuring the rack included a pair of left-handed scissors would have prevented the feeling of isolation I experienced.  It was there in elementary school I first experienced the feeling of being dissimilar and not belonging.

Fast forward twenty five years I became a teacher myself (obtained my Masters in Arts and Teaching at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.).  I taught various grades and subjects in Syracuse, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y., Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC.  Prior to teaching I was a youth counselor for many years – working with youth diagnosed from moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, behavioral and emotional challenges, those diagnosed with autism/Asperger’s syndrome and even including eating disorders.  While working with children I have noticed a disheartening truth over the years.  Regardless of the therapeutic setting, classroom or child population, one thing that became abundantly clear to me is that children who do not fit the “traditional family” mold at times face a tremendous sense of feeling alone and uncomfortable – especially because every book in their homes, schools and libraries mention a mom and dad. It is certainly no fault of the families involved but more so the fact that, as a whole, society caters to the commonly advertised mom and dad family.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the feeling of belonging is one of our basic needs, and one in which many successes are based on.  Students, who do not feel belonged, long for understanding, yearn for relatability and, at times, struggle with isolation.  We live in a society where our books, music, conversations, holidays etc. are geared exclusively to families made up of a mom and dad.  While I think that we need to embrace and celebrate the mom and dad family dynamic, we also need to embrace and celebrate ALL family dynamics just the same.

When I worked with elementary students I was always careful with my pronouns during story time.  I would try and use “parents” or “family” instead of the usual “Mom and Dad.”  The reality is that there are many different family dynamics.  Children often come from a home with a step-parent, foster-parent, same-gender parents, single parent, grandparents etc., and sadly our books and language often (yet unintentionally) overlook this rapidly growing reality.  In order to thrive and succeed children need to feel affirmed and belonged regardless of where they come from, and with whom they happen to live.

Frustrated over the constant lack of children’s books on family diversity that spoke directly to a child’s self-esteem I decided to do something about it so I wrote and illustrated my own easy to read children’s book, “I Am Loved Right Where I Am”

This book is a phenomenal educational tool for every child, and every home in America.  If the child reading I Am Loved Right Where I Am comes from a home with a Mom and Dad than they will not only relate to one of the characters in my book, but also learn that many of their friends and classmates may come from different family dynamics.  Children that come from other family dynamics (foster, step-parent, same-gender parents, single parent etc.) will also relate to some of the characters in my book and have a sense of family equality.  The goal of my book is quite simple; after browsing this easy to read children’s book the reader will walk away feeling belonged, loved, as well as, have a stronger sense of universal connection.

If we want our children to succeed in life it starts early, and especially in school where pressures of all types are constantly bombarding our children from every direction.  At the same token my book is just as educational for those that are home-schooled or children out of school.  Even such children are not safeguarded from the media, their (good-intentioned) friends and society.  We must ensure our youth feel safe, comfortable and belonged.  If a child is constantly on mental guard from friends, extended family members, society, the media etc., he or she cannot be fully focused on learning, or be able to reach self-actualization in life.

Please take a look at the wonderful reviews from those that have read my book and treat that special or someone to a copy.  You have the option of ordering from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even a signed copy via paypal.  This book is a great addition to your personal book collection, home library and most certainly gift to that special child or family.  Happy reading


Barnes & Noble

Signed Copy

Youtube Video

* Please share (links above) as proceeds of my book go directly to charities *

Leave a comment

Filed under Bullying, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Love, Media, parents, School, Youth

How Dare the NAACP take a stand for equal rights!

Alveda King (niece to MLK) is enraged that the NAACP has broadened its mission statement to support the freedom to marry for all.  Alveda stated, “To equate homosexuality with race is to give a death sentence to civil rights, no one is making them sit in the back of the bus.” With all due respect, Ms. King, for the record, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) did not equate anything to “them!”  You are the one grabbing the race card, inserting that mistruth, and attempting to stir-up division!  Second Ms. King, please allow me a moment to school you a tad on our “bus.”

Hitler had special concentration camps and protocol for gays where he and his followers ordered and assigned them to the most difficult of all jobs. Twenty-four seven gays were taunted, tortured, prodded, poisoned, stripped, whipped, beaten, used as horrific disfiguring medical experiments, their fingernails pulled, they were starved, went days without water, and had thick splint-filled wooden sticks shoved into their anus and penis until the majority bled to death.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since.  All throughout history (including today) gays are taunted, teased, humiliated, tortured, mocked, ridiculed and murdered.  A recent article stated that in Iraq gay men’s anuses are super-glued while forced to drink diarrhea inducing liquid resulting in a very slow and painful death.  In Jamaica, there is government sanctioned brutal rape to “cure” lesbians.  In over 75 countries, gays are imprisoned should they simply live honestly.  Many that have (and continue to) assault and murder our gay brothers and sisters are repeatedly given an insignificant penalty or found “not guilty” and still today, we hear pastors, politicians, teachers and preachers condoning hatred and violence toward gays and lesbians with little to no concern, consideration or care.

Sadly, however, we do not need to look outside of our own back yard to see this type of repulsive abuse.  Every day across the U.S. gay couples and their houses are robbed, egged, vandalized, and burned by hate-motivated arsonists.  Every day gays are brutally beaten, sodomized, burned, mobbed, assaulted, bashed, intimidated and killed as acceptable “punishment” simply for the way they were born.  It was not that long ago here in the U.S. that gays were imprisoned, and while there, used as medical experiments.  Gays endured endless months of water torture and gruesome shock therapy to “cure” them.  Today every minute in our nation a crime is reported from a gay person being harassed, bashed, bullied, and often including death threats – and these are just the ones on record.  Incalculable acts of gay bashing are never reported due to shame, humiliation, and embarrassment, threats if they do, and the list goes on. Gay people cannot, to this day, peacefully walk in their (long awaited and much deserved) pride parades or get married without hearing insults, slander and verbal attacks from scores of deluded people with bullhorns. Trust me Ms. King, if we had a choice, we would happily sit in the back of the air-conditioned bus!

Lastly, Alveda, though your uncle may not have officially went on record supporting equal rights for his gay brothers and sisters, his wife (your aunt) Coretta has made it abundantly clear numerous times that they both believed in, and supported equal marriage for all!  Alveda I have a proposal.  How about instead of using your time, energy and money preventing loving, monogamous, faithful and devoted gay couples their civil right to legally marry, you put all of your time, money and energy into making your fourth one a success – deal?


Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Civil Rights, Crime, Discrimination, Equality, Gay, Media, Religion

“Talking” Points

I just wanted to address some talking points I hear over, and over, and over, and over…..

      When people spout out ridiculous terms like Homosexual Behavior, Activists, Preference, Liberal, Extreme, Radical, Choice, Agenda, Morality, Destructive, Perversion, Lifestyle and all other ignorant and non-applicable talking points, they may as well hold a sign up that states in bold letters, “I have spent little time earnestly getting to know loving same gender people/couples.”  My initial thought is usually; there is no substitute for experience.  Until you walk a mile in a gay persons shoes, you have no substantial input to offer.  I really cannot engage in a decent debate on the Muslim culture because I’m not Muslim nor have I done the necessary time researching their culture.  Similarly I’m not black (and they have their culture).  Now I’m not saying that unless we “are” we need to be silent, however we need to be very careful with stereotypes and spewing things when we have not done our due diligence.
      I also have to roll my eyes when I hear some spout out, “talk about intolerance, gays are intolerant if you don’t agree with gay marriage etc.”  First off no one needs anyone to agree, believe in, or tolerate anything.  We should however, ALL be striving toward celebrating each individual culture/community.  That being said a hundred years ago there was “another side” to women’s rights, fifty years ago there was “another side” to black’s rights.  Today if anyone disputed their rights they would be viewed as strange (at the very least).  A few years from now there will not be “another side” to gay rights either.  Let’s all wake up, smell the inclusive coffee and celebrate one another.

1 Comment

Filed under Civil Rights, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Gay, Media, Uncategorized

My Reel (One of many and very vintage)

I am about to start working on my next blog entry entitled, “Forgiveness.”  I however recently came across an old reel and thought I’d post it to remain humble

Leave a comment

Filed under Acting, Celebrity, Media, School, Uncategorized, Youth

Stop Hijacking Our Fight

I want to begin this post by stating that I am no historian, theologian or expert in any related field.  This is my blog and simply my opinion.  I wanted to probe the term “Civil Rights” because as of late I have been hearing how the gay community has “hijacked” the term.  I began this process by first going right to the dictionary and copying the very first definition of each word.  Civil, “of, pertaining to, or consisting of citizens” and the word, Right, “in accordance with what is good, proper, or just:”  I then researched the term “Civil Rights and nowhere in my research did I find this term owned or patented by any particular group, it applies to the many that were denied equal rights in our nations stained past.  Let’s take a look at a few;

Woman’s Civil Rights –  Woman were denied the equal right to vote (suffrage); to hold public office; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to own property; to education; to serve in the military or be conscripted; to enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental and religious freedom. Sadly, some of this fight continues today.

African American Civil Rights: African Americans were denied racial dignity,economic and political self-sufficiency, freedom, and the equal right to marry who they fell in love with regardless of cultural/ethnic background.  Sadly, some of this fight continues today.

Native American Civil Rights: Native Americans were denied the equal right to free expression of their culture, to travel, and land ownership Sadly, some of this fight continues today.

I could go on and on listing other communities/groups/cultures (Asian American Civil Rights etc.), but I am quite sure you get the point.  Bottom line: Civil Rights are just that, equal rights and protections under the civil law granted to ALL American citizens – No exceptions.  If one group of American citizens claim that another hijacked the term Civil Rights than we must conclude that the term was also hijacked from the Civil Right movement that preceded theirs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil Rights, Discrimination, Equality, Legislation, Media

My “It Gets Better” Video 

I am sickened by the harassment, taunting and teasing of our gay youth.  Of all gays actually but primarily our vulnerable gay youth.  After hearing of Jamey Rodemeyers suicide, I created my own “It Gets Better” video.

Although my lack of eye contact is distracting, let it not take away from the sincerity of my message.  God bless you.


Filed under Bullying, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Religion, School, Youth

My Thoughts on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)

“Having served many years in two branches, I can tell you this is completely a NON issue. The question here is not whether gays and lesbians can serve and serve well in the military (as we all know they have and can), it’s simply to allow them to talk freely about their familes without the fear of losing their careers – the same rights afforded to all others. The military has a Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and anyone that violates any of the codes is subject to punishment. Whether black, white, gay, straight, democrat, republican, left handed, Christian or non, if you are a soldier, you must strictly adhere to the UCMJ. Other countries have adopted inclusive policies years ago and to date, none have imploded! When you attend the funeral of a soldier who fought and died for your freedoms, does it really matter who they loved while doing so?”

1 Comment

Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Military, Religion, School, Youth

Bullying Kills

Leave a comment

Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Religion, School, Uncategorized, Youth

Homophobic Bullying Is So Gay

Homophobic bullying is not like other types of bullying.  If a student is bullied based on race, religion, their weight etc., they can run home to an understanding (often relatable) parent/family who understands their pain and can console them.  Gay youth do not have that refuge as they 1) Are usually not out to themselves yet, and 2) fear being thrown out of their homes and family.  This pent up frustration, hurt and anger eventually leads to what has (sadly) been happening in the media as of late. I have posted portions of my Graduate thesis as I believe some of the research is eye-opening.


Jason Galvez
Research Proposal
Homophobic Bullying Is So Gay:

The effects of homophobic bullying are crippling today’s youth both emotionally and educationally. Schools lack the support on a legislative level to combat such abuse and our society as a whole encourages violence against gay and lesbians. Teachers are at a standstill dealing with homophobic bullying for various reasons including religious beliefs, personal insecurities, and lack of administrative backing. Gay students who are victimized feel completely helpless, and acts ranging from dropping out of school to suicide are common. My research study will examine the current attitudes of Special Education students in grades three through six and test whether a general anti-bullying lesson plan can reduce homophobic bullying.
I. Introduction
“It is clear from the research that homosexuality is not the problem; it is however, homophobia.” (Cooper 2008, p. 434).
Homophobic bullying has affected students of all ages for years. The outcomes of such bullying can lead to depression, low self-esteem, dropping out of school, and even suicide (NEA today, 2004). School is a place where education takes place, but it is also a place to gather, make friends, socialize, and build character (Burke, 2008). What happens when the very place that is supposed to help form strong positive reflections of ones self is itself the hostile breeding ground for self-hatred?
Students of all grades and ages fall victim to names such as “sissy,” “fag,” “homo,” “lezzy,” and “dyke” (DeJean, 2004, p. 1). These names are horrific in and of themselves, but are even more devastating when heard by children who are struggling with their gender or sexual identity. The use of homophobic terms by fellow classmates is painful to gay students, and when educators use homophobic terms, the pain can be paralyzing. According to Adrienne Rich, “When someone with the 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 into a mirror and saw nothing” (Logan, Chasnoff, & Chohen, 2002p. 5).
Many teachers fall disturbingly short when it comes to understanding this “invisible minority” of gay students (Dejean, 2004, p. 20). Teachers often assume that they have no gay students in their class, do not believe their statements are of a homophobic nature, or simply do not understand the devastating effects their words have (Larrabee & Morehead, 2008). When mixed with heinous and harmful words with the media’s often-demeaning tones, and with a typically unsupportive home environment, the results can be catastrophic to a student questioning his or her identity.
This paper proposes a study that will examine whether an anti-bullying lesson plan can reduce homophobic bullying by teaching students about the consequences of bullying and by giving teachers a tool for combating bullying behavior. My study will be implemented for one week in the convenience of my classroom, where the students feel most comfortable. I will use a Likert survey before and after the lesson plan to assess any differences in attitudes. Using our current behavior management point sheet system and teacher observation notes, I will keep data on the gay slur usage both before and after my study. Point sheets will give data regarding the frequency of slurs and name-calling, whereas class discussion and teacher observation will give me data on overall changes in sensitivity and attitudes. This paper will first examine the literature on homophobic bullying and then describe the proposed study.
II. Literature Review
To understand how one can curb homophobic bullying, one must understand the current literature on the subject. This section will discuss why this topic is important, clarify key concepts, examine teacher and student experiences as currently understood, and discuss what is missing from the existing literature that this study will assess.
A. Homophobic Bullying is a Problem
1. Prevalence of Homophobic Bullying.
Recent studies show that almost 92% percent of gay and lesbian students report hearing homophobic remarks in their schools (DePaul, 2009 para. 9). Students also report that a very small percentage of teachers (3.4%) address this type of abuse (DePaul, para. 12). More than 25% of reported suicide attempts are from gay and lesbian adolescents, with 10% just within the past year (SMYAL, 2006, p. 6). According to one study, on a school level almost 33% of gay and lesbians missed school in (just in the past month prior to this research) because of feeling unsafe or because of homophobic bullying (Presgraves, 2008). In one study, 53% of gay and lesbian students’ grades suffered greatly (Hansen, 2007). In another similar study, 28% completely dropped out (Nichols, 1999, p. 511). Interventions and policies must be implemented, as bullying is linked to physical and mental health problems (Bryner, 2010).
2. Policy Problems

Unfortunately, there are few, specific policies targeting homophobic bullying, even though these policies are crucial to decreasing this rising epidemic (Burke, 2008 p. 37). The problem lies not only in the lack of policies to prevent attacks, but within the policies themselves. A recent study showed that 96% of principals reported that their schools do in fact have anti-bullying policies, but that less than half cover homophobic bullying (GLSN, 2008).
3. Origins of Homophobia

Homophobic attitudes start at a young age—usually in the home. Many children come from homes where they often hear anti-gay remarks. Whether it is a casual joke around the dinner table or a blatant slanderous comment, anti-gay names are sadly common in many homes. Some homes are blatant with remarks whereas others who may have religious objections have a more subtle but clearly disdainful tone when talking of homosexuality (Macgillivray, 2004, p. 363)
The media is another medium for such divisive slander or inaccurate descriptions (Sheng, 2007, p. 100). Let us take for instance a well-known movie recently released (“Why Did I Get Married Too”) where the script called for a very feminine male actor to jump out of a cake—a clear historical Hollywood caricature of a gay person–who was derogatorily referred to as “bitch” and other demeaning references. If such portrayals/messages from the media are alive and prevalent today when we presumably have so much more understanding and sensitivity to minority groups, one can only imagine what the messages have been leading up to now when portraying gay persons. Take for instance how the Wayans brothers portrayed gay persons in “In Living Color,” these offensive stereotypes are nonchalantly accepted and sadly all too frequent.
4. Harmful Effects of Homophobic Bullying Statistics show that gay and lesbian students who are targets of homophobic bullying suffer greatly in their education. Students learn best when they feel safe in their educational environment (Tucker and Wagner, 2008 p. 248). When students feel safe, all walls are down and creativity and logic are at their peak. One of the key elements of a safe learning environment is a sensitive educator who creates a classroom of zero tolerance for homophobia and an environment of total inclusion (Wolfe, 2006 p. 202). A zero tolerance policy is one in which any type of name-calling is unacceptable and subject to punishment. When an educator ignores homophobic name-calling or homophobic bullying, however, that sends a strong message that such abuse is acceptable (NEA today, 2004, p. 1). Given this, it should be no surprise that gay students suffer tremendously from homophobic bullying and that furthermore they are indoctrinated with the mentality that abuse toward them is acceptable.

The challenges are insurmountable when one must struggle with coming to terms with their sexuality and concurrently dealing with rampant and crushing homophobia, all while dealing with a myriad other teen concerns. With name-calling, teasing, social exclusion, etc., gay and lesbian students experience more psychiatric disorders, higher rates of substance abuse, and increased risk of suicide (Craig, Tucker, & Wagner, 2008 p. 238). They are also more prone to engaging in at-risk behaviors, and some experts suggest that what is needed to reduce these behaviors are schools that promote a caring environment that respects diversity (Nichols, 1999, p. 506/509). In one study, it was found that because of homophobic bullying, 75 % of gay males experienced a decline in their school performance, 39% skipped classes, and 28% dropped out altogether (Nichols, 1999, p. 511). Another study concluded that gay and lesbian students were twice as likely not to pursue postsecondary education (Hansen, 2007, p. 843). Kevin Jennings (the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, US Department of Education) said of students dealing with homophobia, “If they’re sitting in that classroom and they’re terrified about what will happen when they try to walk home after school, they’re not going to learn” (Richardson, 2010 p. 48).
Students who endure homophobic name-calling suffer in other ways. If a student is fed up with being the target of harassing names and finally aggresses toward his or her abuser, it is not hard to imagine that he or she will be suspended from school, and, depending on his or her age, start a record that remains in his or her file for years. Other students turn inward shutting out the world around them and isolating themselves. Some students skip classes and skip days of school, while others drop out completely (Legal, 2002). To make matters worse, statistics show that students who drop out of school due to homophobic bullying usually do not return or go on to college (Hansen, 2007, p. 843). While some students are fighting back and skipping school, other students are so overwhelmed by the constant abuse they decide taking their life is easier than the day-to-day suffering (Legal 2002).
5. Teachers’ Attitudes towards Homophobic Bullying. Teachers are generally hesitant to act against homophobic bullying. Some teachers struggle with whether or not to intervene when they hear homophobic remarks because of their personal religious beliefs (Varjas, Graybill, Mahan, Meyers, Dew, Marshall, et al., 2007). Others teachers are concerned that if in fact they do intervene, they feel as if they are promoting the “gay lifestyle” (Higgins-Norman, 2008). Yet other teachers do in fact want to address homophobic bullying but are reluctant due to the lack of school policy backing them (Craig, Tucker, & Wagner, 2008, p. 244). In fact, the majority of schools today that have an anti-bullying policy that does not include sexual orientation (Minton, 2008, p. 180).

6. Ways to Decrease Homophobic Bullying.  It is relatively easy to cut down on homophobic name-calling and abuse whether through parents, teachers or school administrators.

Reducing homophobic bullying starts with teachers addressing students who use homophobic slurs. When teachers intervene when they hear all types of name-calling, it sends a strong message that such words will not be tolerated. Teachers also could use inclusive terminology, various family dynamics and use examples of gay and lesbian role models in their classrooms (DePaul, Walsh, & Dam, 2009, p. 4). Instead of saying, “Mom and dad”, teachers could say “parents” or “guardians.” Teachers also must not assume that their students are heterosexual (para. 5). Students come from a variety of backgrounds and family make-ups from moms and dads to grandparents, to single parent homes, to same-gender parents, children of divorce, adoptive parents and the list continues. When using all-inclusive terminology, everyone feels included (para. 2).
School administrators can reduce homophobic bullying by including it in the school’s overall anti-bullying policy. When educators feel as if their school is behind them, they feel more equipped to address homophobia in their classrooms (Craig, Tucker, & Wagner 2008, p. 244). At the same time, students fully understand that from the administrator down, name-calling of any sort is unacceptable and aggressively addressed.
B. Key Concepts
1. Homophobic Bullying Defined.

“Homophobic bullying” is any actual or perceived attack on those who identify as gay or lesbian. Homophobic bullying includes any type of name calling that slanders gay and lesbian students, any type of threats, physical harm, coercion, intimidation, and cyber-bullying. Bullying can be perceived or imminent. Whether in the form of a threat, joke, physical contact or online, homophobic bullying is dangerous. However, homophobic bullying is not simply another type of bullying, as it is linked to current negative attitudes towards those gay and lesbian (Minton et al., 2008, p. 177).

2. ”Safe Space”

Countless studies show that many gay and lesbian students feel unsafe in their schools. Due to students feeling unsafe, many schools have adopted safe spaces. Safe spaces are a place where gay and lesbian students can go and be themselves without any fear of homophobic bullying (GLSEN 2009, p. 2). It is also a term used when referring to an educator who has a zero tolerance for any anti gay violence and/or harassment (GLSEN 2002, p. 2).
C. Students are Coping and Teachers are Afraid
1. Students are struggling to cope

Adolescents face many challenges surrounding their developmental years (Hansen 2007, p. 839) and even more challenges when adding the formative years (Cooper 2008, p. 429). For gay youth, the struggle is often insurmountable. It is estimated that gay youth are “coming out” (deciding to live openly and honestly regarding their being gay or lesbian) as early as 8 years old (DePaul, Walsh, & Dam, 2009, p. 2) and in many cases, even younger. Current studies show that every secondary classroom in the U.S. has at least one gay or lesbian student (DePaul, Walsh, & Dam, 2009, p. 2) and that the numbers are rising. Gay and lesbian youth not only have to “come out”, they must also learn to pave their own way in a heterosexual world. As one author puts it:
Coming out is a core developmental process for homosexual persons that spans many years. It usually begins in childhood with feelings of being different and progresses through various stages, including acknowledgement of homosexuality, disclosure to others, acceptance of a homosexual identity, experimentation and exploration, and intimacy. Ideally, the process ends in consolidation, a stage in which homosexuals no longer view themselves primarily in terms of sexual orientation…. the child who is eventually to become homosexual, in no sense goes through a period of anticipatory socialisation; if he does go through such a period, it is in reference to heterosexuality not homosexuality (because) the parents of a person who is to become homosexual do not prepare their child to be homosexual they are not homosexual themselves, and they do not communicate to him what it is like to be homosexual. (Cooper, 2008, p. 428-429).
School can be a difficult place for any student, but a student who identifies him or herself as gay or lesbian face tremendous challenges and obstacles. School is a place that provides students with an environment where they can socially interact with their peers (Poteat, 2007 p. 175) It is a place where young people learn many of their values, and where youth develop into healthy adults who respect one another (Legal, 2003). Gay students have to maintain their self-esteem and self-image in a world where the media portrays gays and lesbians as anything but respected citizens (Kam-lun, Ting-fan, Pak, Yuen, et al. 2005 p. 346). Another obstacle (just on the school level) is dealing with the attitudes of their peers and even school personnel.
As noted, reports of discrimination, homophobic bullying and violence are all too common in our schools. From rude jokes and comments, threats, vandalism, harassment, and more, gay and lesbian youth have encountered high rates of school homophobia (Elze, 2003, p. 226). In a recent study of students who are victimized in school, students stated that they are harassed and threatened on a daily basis, they were physically concerned for their well-being and have even had to change school’s due to “extreme harassment” (Elze, 2003, p. 232). Another student states:
I was viciously bullied at school on account of being gay. This included verbal and physical bullying and I had to be taken to a doctor after one particular beating. The response of the principal of the school was that the bullies’ behaviour was how ‘any normal girl would react.’ The inference was that I deserved it. The same principal also took it on herself to tell my parents, who didn’t know that I was gay. I was 14 years old at the time and my parents were shocked and embarrassed. So much so that my parents have never forgiven me and to this day nearly 20 years later continue to ‘punish’ me. (Higgins, 2007, p. 78).

Gay students do not feel safe and included in schools. In a sample of 120 students, 40% stated that when a class discussion on gay and lesbian issues came up, it was discussed in a negative fashion (Elze, 2003, p. 227). Students feel included most when they can identify with others. One gay teacher puts it this way: “I never saw myself in high school. Literature in English never included me. In every part of high school, my story was never told, or if it was told, it was through rumor and lies” (DeJean, 2004, p. 19). In a study by Margaret Crocco, one person states:
I encountered few gay or lesbian role models, never read any works by gay or lesbian authors and only heard about the issue in history class with a brief mention of the suspected sexuality of historical figures such as Jane Addams,” What this student perhaps meant to say is that she had never read any works whose authors had been identified as gay or lesbian. By not identifying authors in this manner, teachers simply collude with a system that keeps gays and lesbians invisible, both in history and in life. Another student indicated something similar about English classes “when we discussed Allen Cinsburg or Walt Whitman.” Several noted how little was said about the subject even in health classes. When schools made an effort to introduce diversity into the curriculum, this meant only racial and ethnic issues, not gender, and not sexual orientation. Textbooks,
unsurprisingly, were silent on the subject. (Crocco 2002, p. 224).

Gay and lesbian students often feel as if there should be shame attached to them and that there is a double standard. If two people of the opposite gender are discussing their relationship, it is acceptable. However, if two people of the same gender are discussing their relationship, it is perceived as flaunting their chosen lifestyle (Cooper 2008, p. 428). It is imperative that our youth are entering a building where they feel safe from discrimination and bullying should they talk about their relationships. Students need to feel as if they have an ally with their teachers against homophobic bullying. As one author so eloquently states, “A school that is not willing to take a stand for all students’ safety, well-being, and development as future citizens is a poor example of American education” (Nichols 1999, p. 517).
Options for gay and lesbian youth are limited because many schools’ anti-bullying policies do not include homophobic bullying and administrators can literally choose what type of discrimination and harassment they feel like addressing. One teacher was reported saying, “God created Adam and Eve” and “that’s not the way God intended it to be” to a gay student, and so the student was confused regarding who she was (Chase, 2008). If left to teachers, students are at the whim of personal beliefs over personal safety. One such extreme case was a teacher scolding a student for writing with his left hand, “There must be something wrong with you boy, if the wrong hand feels right to you. God gave you a right hand….” (Nichols, 1999, p. 508). The teacher went on scolding this student, mandating him to write with his right hand. Such feelings of rejection and wrongdoing can have significant and long-term negative effects on a student’s self-image.

2. Teachers are Afraid to Act

Teachers are generally as afraid to act as any other human being is. They grew up in the same society that bombards us with media and religious influences. Historically speaking the media has filled our homes and minds with the belief that gay men are only interested in molesting children, becoming hair dressers, or being the brunt of a tasteless joke ( Cooper, 2008, p. 426). Teachers come into the classrooms with preconceived notions, beliefs, biases, and knowledge. Although their beliefs and biases do not necessarily make their decisions, their “whole self” certainly may guide their decisions. Teachers are responsible for bringing as much knowledge, diversity and sensitivity into the classroom as possible to make the optimal learning environment for their students but often only reflect and identify their own beliefs and biases (GLSEN, 2009 p. 7).
Many teachers are unaware of their own biases when it comes to sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and many more lack knowledge of the fundamental struggles that gay and lesbians on a whole endure. One teacher stated that she was appalled to learn many gay and lesbians here in the U.S. can and have been fired from their jobs just for being gay, not realizing that there are no federal, or sometimes even state, legal protections for them (Larrabee, 2008, p. 6). Such complacency and ignorance is troubling. Of course, there are also teachers who in fact do want to speak up and understand the negative effects of homophobic bullying but have fear themselves. Many teachers say they have witnessed violence but choose to look the other way simply because of a severe lack of administrative support (O’Higgins-Norman, 2008, p. 76). If teachers feel powerless to intervene with homophobic bullying, we cannot begin to imagine how those targeted students must feel!
A recent study asked teachers about their discrimination policies at their schools. Almost 100% of school’s did in fact have an anti-bullying/anti-discrimination policy; but 90% of the teachers reported that their schools’ anti-bullying policy did not include homophobic bullying (O’Higgins-Norman 2008, p. 73). Between the policy’s message that is being sent, along with teachers not intervening while witnessing homophobic bullying, it is no wonder why we have this pandemic in our schools.
There are teachers who understand that homophobic bullying has detrimental effects on students, but do not intervene because they feel a moral conflict. Teachers have reported that they are unsure how to deal with homophobia in the schools, as they do not want to be perceived as condoning what they feel is wrong behavior (Larrabee, 2008, p. 6). Other teachers fear the possibility of being confronted by everyone from parents to co-workers and even other students. Teachers have stated that if they were to intervene with homophobic bullying, they may have to deal with others questioning them on their beliefs while others fear of being a target themselves (O’Higgins-Norman, 2008, p. 77). Simply put, bullying is not conducive to any learning environment and certainly not promoted in any religion. Teachers must understand the difference between acknowledging gay people and families in the context of building inclusive classrooms and feeling as if they are promoting what they do not agree with (Wolfe, 2006, p. 199).
There are teachers who demand their classrooms be free from hostility and homophobic bullying. Teachers are now getting themselves involved in various “safe school” programs and using a myriad of measures to ensure their classrooms have a zero tolerance for homophobic bulling. As one teacher so plainly puts it, “I am tired of people getting hurt instead of learning….students go to school to learn, not to go to war” (Craig, Tucker, & Wagner, 2008, p. 248). Many teachers are adopting all-inclusive terms in their classrooms and using words like “partner” instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend,” and they are making a conscious effort in not assuming. We cannot assume that students all have a mom and dad or that the prom date our student is speaking about is someone of the opposite gender. Teachers, as a way of continuing and broadening their knowledge are going out and getting involved and meeting gay and lesbians and their families. The more teachers know about gay and lesbians, the more they understand their culture and can be sensitive to them (Larrabee, 2008, p. 10).
D. What Can We Do?

While we know that students are doing their best to cope and teachers are afraid to act, what we do not know is what type of intervention will work for a specific situation. It is not clear that an anti-bullying policy will in fact reduce homophobic bullying. It is also unclear if age or perhaps a specific niche of students (as emotional disturbed or learning disabled) will necessarily benefit from such policies. This study will examine these issues by specifically testing whether a general anti-bullying lesson plan directed to students of different grades and of different diagnoses could cut down on homophobic bullying.

IV. Conclusion

Homophobic bullying is crippling today’s youth both emotionally and educationally. Students are struggling to cope while teachers are afraid to act. Overall, schools lack the support on a legislative level to combat such abuse, and our society as a whole encourages violence against gay and lesbians. My study will examine student attitudes towards gay students and will assess whether a general anti-bullying lesson plan can help reduce homophobic bullying. It will also assess whether its effectiveness may depend on the type of diagnosis or the age of the student. Depending on the results, further follow-up will need to be completed as to whether the homophobic bullying reduction is sustained or is only a momentary or temporary reduction.

Reference List
Bryner, J. (2010, February 02). Gay and lesbian teens bullied more than heterosexuals.
Retrieved from
100203. html.
Burke, L. (2008). Seven steps on how the international education community
can prevent school-based homophobia and homophobic bullying and
harassment. International Schools Journal, 28(1), 33-38. Retrieved
from Education Research Complete database.
Chase, B. (2008, September 25). Safety and support at school. Retrieved from
Child Welfare League of America & Lambda Legal (2002). Teaching lgbt
competence in schools of social work. Retrieved from
Craig, S, Tucker, E, & Wagner, E. (2008). Empowering lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender youth: Lessons learned from a safe schools
summit. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 20(3).
Dejean, W. (2004). Gay male high school teachers. Encounter, 17(3), 19-23. Retrieved
from Education Research Complete database.
DePaul, J., Walsh, M., & Dam, U. (2009). The Role of school counselors in addressing
sexual orientation in schools. Professional school counseling, 12(4), 300-308.
Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. (2009). The Safe space kit: Guide to
being an ally to lgbt students. Retrieved from
Hansen, A. (2007). School-based support for GLBT students: A review of three levels of
research. Psychology in the Schools,44(8), 839-848. doi:10.1002/pits.20269.
Kam-lun Ellis, H., Ting-fan, L., Anthony Pak-yuen, Y., Sze-man, W., Maxim,
W., Hoi-yee, C., et al. (2005). A survey of attitudes toward
homosexuality in hong kong chinese medical students. teaching &
learning in medicine, 17(4), 344-348. doi:10.1207/s15328015tlm1704_6.
Kavey, M, & Liman, A. (2009, May 19). Reinforcing related rights:
Advancing equality for lgbt youth by safeguarding student freedom of
expression. Retrieved from
Kim, R, Sheridan, D, & Holcomb, S. (2009). A Report on the status of gay,

1 Comment

Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Religion, School, Uncategorized, Youth