Monthly Archives: April 2010

A prank gone too far ?!

McKee, KY — Last Friday, on the national Day of Silence three classmates took Cheyenne Williams, an out lesbian classmate, to a remote location against her will and assaulted her.  Cheyenne and her mother went to the police with injuries and a cellphone recording of the attack to press charges.  The mother and daughter claim the attack was based upon Cheyenne’s sexual orientation.   The three girls have since been arrested and charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.   And in the week since this event occurred the mother and daughter  have determined it isn’t safe for Cheyenne to return to school for the rest of her senior year.  Oh and as far as Cheyenne’s announcement that she is dropping out for her own personal safety  the school district officials say they ‘aren’t surprised.’

To add to the official indifference of the school board about to this event, the police and D.A. have repeatedly told the press that they have no concerns that this may have been a hate crime directed at an ‘out’ lesbian teen attending a high school where there was open controversy about the National Day of Silence.  And I’ll repeat the attack happened that day.

School officials said the “Day of Silence” anti-violence event Friday, promoted by the national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Alliance, did spark some controversy on Cheyenne’s campus. While some students wore stickers in support of the observance, others protested the event by wearing stickers that said “Gay is not the way.” It wasn’t clear which side of the debate the three suspects were on.

The police and D.A. have decided to disregard Cheyenne and her mother’s claims that the attack was specifically resulting from these three classmates pact with one another to change Cheyenne’s sexual orientation. 

The local media and police say in fact that Cheyenne’s out lesbian status did not have anything to do with her attack that day.  They have another more precise term for kidnapping someone, assaulting them and attempting to push them off a rocky cliff….. they think maybe Cheyenne got pranked!  And I am not joking here.

According to the local CBS news team the police have narrowed the motivation down to this:

“Does it appear this could have been a prank, or a prank that went wrong in any way?”, we asked Sgt. Feltner.
“Right now we have obtained certain facts that would indicate that might be the case, that it may have been a prank”, says Sgt. Feltner with Kentucky State Police.

So there we have it.   Prank is a new term we can add to the sentence “A ______ gone to far.”    So if you are tracking the terms for hate crimes and sexual assaults among children at school we have bullyinghorseplay, incident, and now  prank as news headline search terms.  These childlike terms help us to hold onto the youthful innocence of those accidental aggressors who “got carried away with their fun.”  

It is so helpful of the media and the authorities to help us along in finding replacement terms for harsher language like hate crime, assault,  sexual assault, and attempted murder.  Not to mention providing terms that allow them to cut down on the  longer headline that would be necessary to describe the graphic and often sexual violence enacted by a group of students on an individual they perceive as vulnerable, worth less, or as a community wide joke.  Lemmie just end this blog with a Wow 😦

But on the bright side….today the local news reports that Kentucky Equality Federation is offering support to Cheyenne’s family with the pending social, political, and legal quagmire.

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What can you say to ‘that’s so gay’

It's STILL Elementary

It’s Still Elementary…  
Hey teachers, administrators, staff, students and families:
Are you still dealing with the word fag being used in your hallways,  or the phrase “that’s so gay” being used by kids in class?    Are you still figuring out how to include various family structures when you create space for students to present projects on their families regardless of their makeup or cultural identity?    
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GLee brings the issue of sexual and gender identity bullying to the news

There is a six-minute newscast online out of a Houston news station about LGBTQ bullying in schools.

Newscasters were spurred into action by GLee’s out gay character Kurt being thrown in the trash by a bunch of jocks as his teacher walked by oblivious to his humiliation and assault.

After the intro about homophobic harassment in schools  the newscasters talk to some ‘Out’ teens about harassment in high school.   As one teen Ashley explains, “A lot of the teachers and principals have a one track mind and so they weren’t really open to going and doing something about it. ”   The report shows a tiny scene from GLee where the teacher walks by and ignores or is oblivious to homophobic harassment of an Out teen.

Finally the report ends with an interview with an expert on sexual and gender bullying in schools.  She highlights all the negative outcomes of this hostile climate in schools.  A key highlight:  the vast majority of teacher underestimate, are oblivious to, or ignore this violence in schools.

You could contrast this news story with this other recent news report on a gender non-conforming boy named Cole Goforth in Tenn.   He is the boy who was sent home for wearing a gay t-shirt to school.  Greenbrier High School’s Principal  blamed Cole’s shirt for starting fights and causing disruptions in the school.  Could this be what Ashley was talking about when she said “one track minds”?

Each of these little broadcasts packs a lot into 6 minutes and each could be excellent starter to a lesson/classroom discussion for Friday’s National Day of Silence. 

You can make and then BREAK that silence about violence against LGBTQ youth in schools if you want to 😉

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Social Class, Poverty, and Schools – Media to Illustrate the Point

So I was just sharing with another teacher some of the media I use when teaching about social class and education. Since I had to look up all my links I figured I’d record them here for the next time around.
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Friday, April 16th is the National Day of Silence

Go to GLSEN’s Day of Silence web page or the Facebook Group Day of Silence to get information to lend your voice or your visible silence to create a conversation about LGBTQ bias, harassment and violence in our schools.

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