Originally Posted by pnggrad79
The next day the principal pulled me aside and told me he appreciated the lesson on tolerance but that I needed to keep it on grade level and realize they were 12 years old.
I didn't say this aloud to him, but I thought that these 12 year olds are old enough to hate gay people, they are old enough to hear why it is wrong. I guess some parents complained.... My ultimate thought was, "At least I got an hour of discussion with them about tolerance of gay people." These 12 year olds are allowed to watch R rated movies and play R rated video games, but when we say "gay" all of a sudden they have virgin ears and are "too young" for such discussions. My concern is that some kid may have begun questioning his or her sexuality and if it is hushed up and not talked about they will feel pressured to "act" straight and listen to the jokes and maybe even date the opposite sex, and coming out will be traumatic at best. I want to reverse that trend and let them know if they one day realize they may be gay, they have someone to come to and talk about it.
You did a fabulous job!!
Your principal needs some more educating, though I don't know who should do it. Maybe you could find an appropriate way to suggest contacting and working with GLSEN?
When I taught English in Texas, I had a similar confrontation with 17-18 year old students over the idea of bashing and killing 'fags.' My colleagues and the principal all told me I shouldn't bother because we all know homosexuals are 'different' and 'will never be accepted.' It descended into a bunch of gay jokes at my expense. It sounds like your principal is much further along than that.
You may be exactly right - he's caught in a crossfire between your lesson on tolerance and the ideology of parents. 12 is by NO means too young, as I'm sure you know. Kids half that age can understand. I don't know what you could have said that would have been more 'age appropriate.' There might be a way of gently stating to him "If they're old enough to hate, they're old enough to hear about tolerance." This depends upon how well your principal deals with being 'contradicted' and if it would put him on the defensive, or if he would be open to the input.
By 12, plenty of kids could already be questioning their sexuality, and to hear a teacher defend their humanity is incredibly important. If they don't hear that, and they hear homophobia at home and church, they can think the whole world is anti-gay, and be caught in a hell like Bobby in the movie we all just saw on Lifetime. You did the exact right thing, PNG. Thank you.