Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gifted Education and LGBT Populations

When I was the 7th and 8th grade teacher of the gifted education in Hattiesburg, Mississippi one of my students came out as being homosexual. What I witnessed this young man experience for the next two years saddened me. My hope is that during this semester, you have gained enough perspective as a culturally responsive teacher to support all the students in your classroom. In the space below, please feel free to share your thoughts.


43 comments:

  1. My opinion is that students should be loved and respected regardless of their beliefs. I believe that all students have a right to learn and play a part in a classroom community. I believe that this is an area where teaching our students to be kind and have respect for each other really comes into play. Katrina Kimbrell

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  2. I had to skip ahead and blog about this. As an LGBT person, I know firsthand what it can be like. Growing up I always knew I was different, but I was always me and I liked that. I was a bit sheltered though, in grade school; I spent K-8 in Catholic school, so I got comfortable being around the same 60 kids. We were all who we were and were comfortable around one another. It wasn't until secondary school where I really experienced diversity. I got involved in choir and music from the get-go and found my niche that way and made most of my friends during my four years in the music department. Of course I made other friends in my academic classes and many are still near and dear to me. I never experienced the horrors that some kids have experienced in recent years, but I was not immune to rumours and the like. There were many times during 9-12 that I felt out of place and not really in a positive environment, but I made it thru with my friends and laughs and by fourth year I was really happy and having fun. I had great educators along the way too, secondary and university level, who always encouraged and treated me like a person, a friend.
    I'm out at work, but of course I don't wave rainbows and flaunt it around, haha!; I'm not sure about students and/or parents, but at the end of the day, it's about teaching and giving the kids new experiences and knowledge. Who knows, maybe I've become a role model for some of these kids and I may never know. But I hope that it would never come up as a negative and tried to be used against me; I am me and I cannot change who I am. I am also not a religious person, so that has been a tough pill to swallow especially living in the South.
    I teach and do the very best that I can and try to get the kids to think for themselves and not rely on their parents' ideologies; this is the one thing that really drives me crazy!

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  3. All students should be given a quality, risk-free education regardless of their sexual orientation. The LGBT students must be loved, respected, accepted, and encouraged FIRST from the teacher. When the teacher builds that positive risk-free community, I would like to hope the foundation is set where a mutual respect among all will be found.

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  4. Great insight, Bryan, thanks for sharing!

    Although I don't identify with members of the LGBT community, I have watched close friends go through great struggles with their sexuality, especially in high school. I believe, we as teachers must make students feel welcome and included, regardless of any lifestyle choices they have made. I think especially as students get older, it's really important that we create positive, supportive classroom environments that are inviting to all students. Not only can we do this by our interactions with students, instruction that we provide, and activities we facilitate, but also by being aware of bullying that may be occurring within the school environment and making a conscious effort to advocate for these students and stop the gossip, rumors, and threats.

    Already, even with my 5th graders this year, I have had several boys jokingly calling each other "gay" as a derogatory term and we have had to have open discussions about why you shouldn't use the term in that manner. I feel like in the south especially, sexuality is such a taboo topic and many young children and adolescents take on the ideologies of their parents (like Bryan said) and make insensitive comments/do hurtful things without thinking of the consequences of their words and actions.

    By the way, the girl in the video who had gotten kicked out of the ambassador program because of the parent made me really, really sad. The video was very enlightening... I admire the resilience of those students!

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  5. It has always been my belief that every child should have every opportunity to learn and be in a safe environment no matter their race, social background or sexual preference. I think as teachers it is easy for us to say that, but it is a lot harder to put into practice. The students have to know first that they are loved and supported by their teachers. I really like reading Bryan's response and how he said they always treated him like a person. No matter what background or orientation or culture our students have, they are still people and students with feelings and it is our job to make them feel comfortable in our classrooms. We had a very sad situation this year where some 6th grade students sent emails out about a young man being gay. He ended up receiving one of the emails by mistake and was able to read the comments made by students that he had believed for years were his friends. He was completely embarrassed and ended up moving schools immediately. The students were punished, but it was too late and the damage was already done.

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  6. I agree whole-heartedly with what Emily stated above. I do not personally identify with this population, but I have several friends and even two "mothers" who do. I have watched them be ridiculed and judged based on their life choices and it is sad to me the degree to which some people do these things. Children, and adults especially, are mean and seldom think of the consequences of the things that they say to those of this community. While they may not feel it is right, they still must respect people as fellow humans and realize that they have all the power in the world to make or break someone.

    And you know, on second thought, maybe I do identify in a different way. Being in an interracial relationship in the south has been such a big deal that I experienced the hate and judgement of others. It is a terrible feeling to have others judge you based on skin color alone.

    Either way, I believe that my job as a teacher is to provide my students with a safe space and encourage them to become all that they can become in life. I am not to judge my students and I am not to treat them any differently based on their preferences. My responsibility is to educate- sometimes those teachable moments come in rare forms and in these cases, they are just that. Teachable moments- manners, respect and love.

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  7. I believe that all students should feel safe and happy just like the girl in the video stated. The video was really sad and disappointing when the girl in the bowtie mentioned that she was taken out of a leadership position because a parent complained about her sexual orientation. All students should have the right to be leaders, to feel safe, to enjoy school, and learn in an environment that is supportive of their needs. As a high school teacher, I have taught many LGBT students. My thought process is that I shouldn't put any emphasis on their sexual orientation. I treat them exactly the same as I treat any other student. If I was LGBT, I wouldn't want to be treated differently from my peers and teachers so I feel like I am doing the right thing. Like Bryan mentioned, he is normal and wants to be treated like a normal person. I am in full support of any organization to end bullying at school whether it has to do with race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. all people are different and unique in their own special way and deserve to be treated with respect. I believe it is our job as teachers to make sure we treat all students fairly, have a comfortable learning environment, discourage any negativity, and be a positive role model and example for our students

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  8. Elizabeth ElledgeApril 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    "A person's a person, no matter how small." In this famous quote in a children's book written by Dr. Seuss, the elephant Horton champions for the rights of the tiny town of Whoville. Eventually the Whos' voices are heard by their larger counterparts, and Whoville is saved from destruction. The lesson to children through this story is simple: Never ignore the voice of another because he or she is different from you.

    Being in elementary school, my students are not yet at the maturity level where they start exploring their sexuality. I do have parents, however, who identify with the LGBT population, and I think the idea is the same. God calls me to beliefs that guide my own steps; nonetheless, He also in His grace lets each person determine their own paths. It is my job to model God's grace, love, mercy, and kindness to each individual, and only God is the judge of men.

    Below are some things to keep in mind should I encounter a LGBT student in my classroom:
    *I must remember that above all things my student is a human being, and where sexual orientation is a part of his life it is not everything of who he is.
    *I must keep in mind that bullying and discrimination have historically been a problem for the LGBT population, and in my classroom I must keep an open eye out for any issues with this. I must model love, respect, and tolerance for my students. For explicit teaching, I can use lessons such as those at teachingtolerance.org to help students understand the perspectives of others. I can also involve the counselor with the whole class, small groups, or individuals as specific needs arise.
    *Gifted students are less likely than non-gifted students to fit into traditional societal gender roles. As a teacher, I do not believe it is my job to either perpetuate or discourage these gender stereotypes. Students should have the freedom to act out who they are without society's limitations of what it means to be male or female, gay or straight.

    Above all, I want my students to be a family. I want them to accept each other regardless of different backgrounds and viewpoints. I know that as a mentor of my own classroom, I can be a model of cultural sensitivity and hope that I reflect this with my LGBT students as well.

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  9. No student, for any reason, should be bullied, harassed mistreated or discriminated against at school. It is our job as teachers to create a safe environment for children to learn that is free of cruelty or hostility for any reason. I work with young kids, 3rd and 4th grade, and this particular issue is not one I deal with in my life or in my classroom but I sympathize with the pain of being and feeling ostracized or ridiculed. I was relentlessly bullied in school and spent most of my middle school years hiding and praying to survive. It is our job as teachers to instil confidence, self-assurance and pride in our students and to equip them to handle what life has ahead. It is also our job to stay aware of what kids are doing and saying in order to protect our students who are potential victims of bullying or harassment.
    Lindsey Irvin

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  10. I believe it is a teacher’s responsibility to teach ALL students in his/her classroom without regard to race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and/or sexual preference. God created all of us. He does not make mistakes. We are all uniquely made by Him. Our differences are the very things that make us so special. However, children can be very cruel. We must teach our students to be sensitive to others who are different from them. However, teachers must first learn tolerance and respect themselves before they can teach it to others. One does not have to share the same beliefs as others in order to get along. We all have our own beliefs and opinions. No one wants to be ridiculed because they may be different from the majority. We all want to be loved and respected. In our student interviews one of my students expressed that the other students made fun of him and would call him “gay” because he carried around crochet material with him at all times. We talked about his feelings and stereotyping. Many LGBT teens are bullied but they do not report it because they are not ready to discuss being gay with others. We as teachers need to make sure that our students know that they can come to us if they need to talk. This year I have found that addressing our students’ affective needs is just as important as their educational needs. The book, Gifted Teens’ Survival Guide by J. Galbraith and J. Delisle is an excellent resource to use. It even has a section on “Gifted and Gay”. I recommend using this book with your gifted students.
    Demisha Stough

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  11. I have always been an open-minded person and have always accepted all people different from me. In fact, my best friend in high school was a gay male! Unfortunately, I did see him get bullied quite a bit. But I was always there to take up for him. I am right now attempting to add my perspective to a group of "closed-minded" 7th grade middle school students about learning to tolerate, not judge, and respect people from all walks of life. I constantly here them make condescending remarks about people that are different from them, including spouting Bible verses to support their view. All I can say, is that my job is to plant a seed of tolerance and acceptance, hoping that, in time, these students will realize how that seed has grown in their minds to appreciate all people in life.

    I do my best to quell and correct remarks to expose them to open-minded thoughts. I hope to include a unit on "acceptance" next year which will include the LGBT community.

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  12. I have always felt that every person should be treated equally. Their sexual orientation should have no affect on the treatment of that individual. We are all different in many ways, but our sexual differences should not change the way we treat our students. One day, the fight for equal treatment of homosexuals will seem as dated as the idea that African Americans were being treated unfairly because of their color. It is truly time for everyone to see each person for who they are and not focus your opinions of them based on the sexual orientation. It is saddening to see in my elementary students the opinions of their parents passed down to them. Constantly, I hear them call each other "gay" in a negative way. I took some time in class to focus on that issue and tried to open up their minds to the idea of treating each other with kindness no matter what. I know that most of us live in the Bible belt and it is often hard to express your true opinions because someone wants to make it a religious debate, but to those parents and faculty I simply say to them that God's strongest message was to love one another and treat others how you wanted to be treated. Judgement and mistreatment should be left outside the classroom. A school should be a welcoming safe environment for all children. Too often students feel unsafe or alone, celebrate differences. We have spoken all semester on celebrating cultural differences, but we can also celebrate our sexual differences. As teachers, we are truly molding their minds. I would hope that when my students walk out of the classroom they look back on fifth grade with fond memories because they felt loved and accepted. They may not remember every math formula, but they will remember how you made them feel.

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  13. Sexual orientation does not bother me in the least. I am an advocate for the rights of all humans and do not struggle even remotely with anything that might impact my belief that all people, regardless of background, orientation, or values, deserve the same basic rights and equal treatment. Coming from a conservative background myself, I am careful not to be perceived as pressing my beliefs onto the students; however, I make it very clear that my classroom is a safe place for all and that everyone is welcome and no one will make anyone else feel as if they don’t belong. I will always advocate for any person struggling with situations such as this, particularly if they are unable or unwilling to advocate for themselves. My greatest goal as a teacher is always to send children forward as better citizens, with an awareness that our differences are what make us human and that everyone deserves to be treated well.

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  14. "You are more." This is the message we should be sending to our students. We are not defined by where we come from only where we are going. You are more. We are not chained by the environment which sustains us, but rather freed by the potential we have to impact the world around us. You are more. We are not discouraged by the social constructs man has levied against its people; instead we are members of a nations whose creed resounds with the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." You are more. We are not intimidated by differences in thought, behavior, or action; rather, these are the platforms that lead to honest, open discussions of cultural perspective and how it shapes the origination, explanation, and, acquisition of knowledge. You are more. We can be a culture, deeply divided by misunderstanding, yet deeply united by the simplest act of compassion brought about by effective communication, empathy, and finally understanding. You are more. No, we are more. We must present a world of possibilities to our students. We must present a world open to ideas, rich with culture, and waiting to be changed. We must realize that we are teaching the world changers. Regardless of where they come from, what they look like, who they are related to, or how they got to our classrooms, they are more. We must be sensitive to the needs of all of our students. We must understand that their greatest strengths are just beyond their greatest fears. We must help them discover that the road to self-efficacy is paved with anticipating challenges, overcoming trials, and celebrating the triumphs. We are more. We owe it to our students to truly know them, not the characteristics that define them. Gay, straight, black, white, male, female, 2e, highly gifted, or just plain old me - we are all more. We anticipate challenges by knowing the characteristics of our students. We overcome trials by not judging; by seeing the person, not the characteristics of the group; by teaching our students to stand up for what they believe. We celebrate triumphs because in the end, changing the world will come from the most unsuspecting person at the most unsuspecting time and will not be the mark of any person who fits the status quo. And so to my students who are LGBT, my message is simple: labels define us, if we let them. Be more than a label. Let you gifts and talents guide your heart as you search for ways to make this world a better place. And, allow me, as your teacher, to guide you in this adventure as we uncover how much more there is waiting just beyond our comfort zone. We are more.

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  15. It saddened me to hear the students say they were scared and dreaded going to school. My goal as a teacher has always been and continues to be that I develop/create a classroom environment that all students feel safe and respected.

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  16. Honestly I don't even know what LGBT has to do with education. The mission of every teacher, especially a teacher who is dealing with students that are most likely considered "different" in some way already, is to provide students with the best education possible in the least restrictive environment. It shouldn't matter your race, your background or sexual preference. As a person who believes that sex should no be a part of anything having to do with school - I believe that it should not be a part of the "problem." However, I do understand that when people choose to express their sexual views publicly - there can be repercussions. Making sure that EVERY student has a right to be understood, empathized with, and protected is a responsibility of every teacher, not just a gifted one. Making judgments or treating these students unfairly or inappropriately because of any of these identifications is simply inhumane.

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  17. As with any other special population, the LBGT community should be loved, embraced, and respected in the classroom. We have spent the entire semester discussing what it takes to create a culturally responsive and responsible classroom. The LBGT community is another culture that we get to experience to make our lives rich and interesting. The culture involved in their community should be taken into account when we, as teachers, create a classroom environment, and lessons to execute in that classroom. Just like with some of the other cultures that we have discussed, I don’t understand all that is involved with being identified as LBGT, but I embrace the opportunity to learn.

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  18. I hope as a teacher that my students feel that they can come to me if they are feeling threatened or bullied. No child should feel afraid to go to school. As teachers, we need to lead by example and prove ourselves as caring individuals no matter what. Students need support and understanding regardless of the challenges they are facing.

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  19. The video saddened me in some ways and inspired me in others. The student who was told that she could no longer be an ambassador due to sexual orientation broke my heart – but the resiliency of these LGTB kids gave me hope. I cannot personally relate to LGBT – but nor can I relate to being Hispanic or black. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t embrace them as students as well as their backgrounds, their experiences, and their cultural diversity. I really like what Nellie said in her post. It sums up my feelings in terms of what we as teachers can and must do for our students as well as ourselves.
    I have a very good friend who is both gay and has one leg. I remember years ago talking about her being gay – something that really rarely came up in conversation. She told me that it was easier having one leg than it was being gay. That statement has stayed with me for so many years. As she has said, her mother loves her and accepts most of her – except her “gayness”.
    I was raised in a very liberal (by Alabama standards) neighborhood and know many gay people, just as I do black and other ethnicities. So, I personally do not even notice or care about one’s color, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It just never occurred to me to notice or to judge.
    Yet as a teacher, I know now that I need to notice – not to judge - but to honor and embrace – the cultural differences among my students. Since I teach in an elementary school in a quite conservative district, I simply do not encounter many LGTB students. But, I do notice that those who are on free and reduced lunch programs are often shunned. This is one area that hasn’t really been addressed. But at my school – those who cannot afford the Under Amour or the most current fashion – whatever that is – are often pushed away more so than the Black or Hispanic. I think that is our most neglected group of students. Many are gifted, so I am with them on a regular basis. In my room, they are not treated differently by their peers. Maybe that is because they are in a group that is completely separated from their regular classrooms. And in our class, people truly get along well. They have spats – but most are because many are alpha – and want to take charge – not because of their cultural diversities. And that is normal I believe.
    So, in closing – I must say that I know the struggles that the LGTB face – not first hand – but second. It saddens me because I do believe each of us are who we are. I think teachers need to be especially nurturing to those in this community because they are shunned by many.

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  20. I hope that my behaviors, as a teacher, will instill in others the importance of accepting everyone. I sympathize with students who do not fit it and with those who are ridiculed. In addition, I realize the long lasting effects it can have in a child’s life. School should be a place of safety, a place for students to learn and grow, and a place for them to succeed. School years should be some of the best times of a child’s life. As a teacher, I hope that I can create the non-judgmental environment needed to foster children into becoming their best.

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  21. Over the years, I've had many teachers - both good and, well, not so good. The standout teachers are those who led by example, who embodied love, and those who focused on teaching, not judging. Those are the teachers I remember, and those are the teachers I strive to be like. I can't say that I know the struggles LGBT students face in school, but I can be there for my students. I can be a shoulder, a confidant, an example. I can show all of my students that we are there to learn, not to judge each other for our differences or make life harder for each other. I hope that by showing love and being an example I am fostering a caring community of learners.

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  22. Like many of my classmates, this video was disheartening to me. I believe that all students should feel safe in their school environment and should not have to worry about being bullied because of their race, gender, financial status, sexual orientation, etc. I felt sorry for the teen who said they were taken from a leadership position because of their sexual orientation. Just because a person does not agree with one's identity preference does not give them the opportunity to disrespect others, nor should a person be removed from some type of position. I have had many discussions with my students this year about respect for other people's beliefs and preferences. I have stressed with them that just because a person lives their life differently or has different viewpoints on certain topics does not give anyone the right to disrespect another human being. Yes, we may disagree with certain things a person does, but they are still humans and they deserve respect just as any other person does. As some student stated in the video, school should not be a place where they are scared to be. I believe that programs that focus on bullying (of all kinds!) should be a focus in schools today. It is depressing to see on the news about teens taking their life because they were bullied about their gender, sexual preference, etc. It saddens me that these students felt like they had no one to talk to and, instead chose to end their life. I have always stressed to my students the importance of talking to adults when they are being bullied or witness an individual being bullied. No child/teen/young adult should ever feel like they can't go on living in this world because of their lifestyle choices.

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  23. I believe that every student is entitled to a safe learning environment. It is truly the job of every educator to provide students with a place where they feel accepted. In my gifted classroom, we openly discuss a variety of topics. It is expected that each of my students always be respectful of others opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc. It is my sincere hope that they will take this behavior back into the general education classroom.
    I have never personally dealt with a LGBT student. However I did have a male student in my class when I was a 5th grade teacher who was bullied because of his "feminine" behavior. The incidents that occurred with this child led to some difficult conversations between me and his parents as well as between the boys that were involved. I do think that when it was all said and done that we all learned something and I know that my class overall became more sensitive to our differences.

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  24. I believe that the number one goal for every teacher should be that his or her students are safe. If students are being bullied for any reason, they are not safe. They are endanger of things such as depression. If a student does not feel safe, more than likely they are not going to learn on the level that they are truly capable of learning on. Every student in every classroom should feel safe, welcome, and respected. Teachers need to stress that everyone is different in many different ways, and that it not respectful to bully or make fun of other students who are different.

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  25. My original thoughts were those of anger and frustration after watching this video. This is an issue that I feel so passionate about because of personal friends and people I have never even met, who have battled the pain this topic leaves in it's wake. I began to think of society as a whole.

    Part of me feels as though society has made leaps and bounds in moving towards the LGBT community having a voice. The fact that GLSEN exists is wonderful, but knowing that I have not heard of the organization until now is discouraging. The other side of me is disgusted that this is an issue. I absolutely cannot wrap my brain around the idea that anyone would be anything other than welcoming and open to other human beings.

    I then remembered an intense conversation that I had with a friend a couple of years ago that centered around this pain and ignorance. While he completely agreed with my anger, he reminded of a quotation by Socrates. He read, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building on the new." My friend wanted me to understand I can use my energy on helping people move forward with a fresh perspective. This class has also opened my eyes to the importance of learning about all cultures and encouraging others to do the same. I also now know, that simply being aware is not enough. I must be certain that my classroom environment reflects my culturally responsive views and shows, not just tells students, that I am genuine.

    So, when I come across unsettling stories and points of view, I know that I am responsible as a teacher and as a human being to push forward. In that push, I did some research on GLSEN's website and found this recent piece of data...

    “According to GLSEN’s latest National School Climate Survey, the only national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) middle and high school students in the country, 85 percent of LGBT students were verbally harassed in the past year. Nearly 40 percent were physically harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and nearly 25 percent because of their gender identity/expression. If we are committed to every child achieving in our schools, bullying and discrimination protections for all students must be a part of the solution.”

    My goal is to be aware, but also be a part of the solution. I have a student who needs my support with this issue and chances are that we all do. What's our next move on an issue as teachers in Alabama?

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  26. The role of a teacher is to provide students with a safe learning environment. In order for a child to feel safe and to learn, an environment of trust and respect must be established. I believe that no matter a person’s beliefs, race, ethnicity, background, or sexual orientation, a teacher must model this type of environment for his/her students.

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  27. I agree with everyone's thoughts. I feel that the role of a teacher is not to judge, but to meet academic and social/emotional needs, as well as to provide a safe place for students to explore and come to terms with their identity. I change out quotes on a chalkboard in my kitchen, but I have had one specific quote up for over six months now. Not because I want to preach to my family (although I do think it is a good thing to learn), but because I need to keep hearing it. I'm sorry that I don't know who the quote is attributed to, but I wanted to share it because it resonates with what I feel is the role of a teacher.

    Your job is not to judge.
    Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something.
    Your job is to lift the fallen, restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.

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  28. Kiyomi Moore SPE 584 Spring 2016March 9, 2016 at 8:04 AM

    Although the video is no longer available, we as teachers play a vital role in students learning. The role of a teacher is to help students apply concepts, such as math, English, and science through classroom instruction and presentations. Their role is also to prepare lessons, grade papers, manage the classroom, meet with parents, and work closely with school staff. Being a teacher is much more than just executing lesson plans, they also carry the role of a surrogate parent, disciplinarian, mentor, counselor, book keeper, role model, planner and many more. As a teacher, I’ve learned that students have more layers than one might assume. We have to be sensitive to their environment, home dynamics, and their support system at home. I’ve seen students want to transfer from the harsh treatments that they’ve encountered in school. We have to be an advocate them.

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  29. Bias is a barrier to learning in any classroom. Establishing an environment of acceptance is a layer in classroom management. Conflict is present when children are un-accepting of other students. Conflict will contribute to behavior issues and a lack of continuity in learning. When disrespect is allowed, or even promoted, other areas of conflict will be displayed, not just toward LGBT. Having team building activities as well as group projects will provide opportunities for systematically teaching respect for differences. Out of bounds, however, is the home influence. Last semester, one of my students struggled with having 2 moms. He seemed to seek other people's opinions about them. I was challenged with him talking to other students about his moms and being disruptive with the learning environment.

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  30. Although this video is no longer available, it is every teacher's responsibility to ensure a safe, judgment free learning environment for all students. While you may not can control what the students do when not in your care, it is up to you to set the tone in your classroom. If you are kind, compassionate, respectful and accepting of LGBT students in your classroom and do not accept anything but the same behavior of all your students in your classroom you are teaching the others how they should treat all students. It is important to let students see this behavior from you anywhere else in the school as well. Too many times teachers are getting it right in their classroom, but are not living the same standards when talking to a co-worker in an open work room. What are the students hearing if they walk by and hear you talking? Make sure to back up your teaching with your actions!

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  31. This topic is very hard for me to discuss. Of course our own personal beliefs play a part in our daily lives. As a person with strong beliefs about this topic, I have been challenged to put aside my own personal judgment and treat every student with dignity and respect. This is what the right thing to do is. Regardless of personal beliefs. My job is to be a teacher. My job is to teach, regardless of the student's background and differences. I strive daily to treat every student fairly, and have the number 1 priority to help ALL students succeed in ALL aspects of school, both emotionally and academically. The challenge, I believe, especially in the south, is helping other students in the class understand how to treat others who may be different than them, and how to deal with this conflict. I hope that I will always have an open heart and an open mind to support and challenge every student that comes through my classroom door.

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  32. I feel that in order for students to be able to learn, they must feel safe in their environment. Creating a safe learning environment is one of my biggest goals as a teacher. All students have the right to learn in a safe, respectful classroom. It is our job as teachers to help our students understand that while not everyone has the same beliefs, everyone deserves to be treated fairly. As a culturally responsive teacher, I will teach my students to be understanding, kind, fair, and not to pass judgment on others because of their differences. I cannot control what these students experience at home and outside of school. I can only ensure that their experience in my classroom is a positive one.

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  33. Every student deserves to be treated with respect. Teachers should be professionals who can help mediate tough situations in the classroom to protect students. They should also be a good example to students of how to react properly and respectfully to others. Regardless of personal beliefs, teachers should support their students in learning and having the comfort to learn in a protective environment. Students look up to their teachers and watch how they react to situations and hot button topics. Student home life opinions and comments are often exposed in the classroom and teachers have a responsibility to teach children how to communicate and react in a non-combative way.

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  34. I teach the younger grades and have not experienced any discrimination of this kind at this point. I do feel that everyone is valuable and it is not ok to pick and choose who can be gifted and accepted and who isn't based on race, ethnic, religion, sex, or sexual identity. We as teachers must create an tolerant environment and support all students and remembering to keep ourselves unbiased.

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  35. I have not experienced this type of diversity in my classroom, but I have often thought about how I would handle it. While my personal beliefs can't allow me to agree with that lifestyle, I can absolutely show kindness and respect to all students. Their choices shouldn't affect how they are treated by their teachers, and I would try to set an example of kindness for all the students to follow. I hold this same view for all my students, regardless of culture, family, behavior, etc.

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  36. I have not experienced this type of diversity in my classroom, but I have often thought about how I would handle it. While my personal beliefs can't allow me to agree with that lifestyle, I can absolutely show kindness and respect to all students. Their choices shouldn't affect how they are treated by their teachers, and I would try to set an example of kindness for all the students to follow. I hold this same view for all my students, regardless of culture, family, behavior, etc.

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  37. Gifted Education and LGBT Populations
    M-7
    My number one concern as a teacher is to always keep our students safe. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment regardless of their race, social background religious or sexual preference. Every student has the right to enjoy school, feel safe, be leaders in their class, and develop into young adults. I fully support all programs to end bullying in regard to race, gender, religion or sexual preference. Personally, I treat all students with fairness, understanding and encourage them to strive each day to meet their individual goals. It is our job as educators to create a comfortable learning environment, and to be a good example for our students to follow. We teach to impact lives in a positive manner!

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  38. I have taught students and worked with co-workers in the LGBT community. They're people. They have feelings and lives and worries just like I do. We have learned throughout this course that we must try to understand as much as we can about a child's background to help them learn. Period. We have to be sensitive and respectful in order to fulfill our mission as teachers. We may not all have the same beliefs or cultures, but we chose to be teachers to help children learn. We need to make sure our classroom, our instruction, and our behavior as professionals reflects the belief that students deserve a positive learning experience. By how we treat all students, we set the example on how to show respect in diversity.

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  39. As a teacher, I believe all children should be treated equally; however, as a christian I do not support this type of lifestyle. I would definitely continuing teaching and treating this child the same as I always had. All children in my classroom would be treated equally regardless of behavior; however, I would not support those behaviors if ever questioned about it.

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  40. We discuss many prominent homosexuals in history class. This topic also goes back to getting to know your students. If students come from a same sex parent household and I know about it I will be able to direct the conversation away or to it depending on the wishes of the students. As I have mentioned many times in my posts/responses, I do not tolerate bullying in my class. I don’t care why a student is being bullied or why others feel it’s acceptable to bully someone—It is not tolerated in my classroom or vicinity. But as far as being able to conduct class—no student will prevent another student from learning in safe manner in my classroom.

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  41. My only experience at this point in my teaching career is at the first grade level. For this reason I have not had the chance to interact on a teacher to student relationship basis with this specific population. I have always followed the same mantra. Even if I do not agree with a person's opinion (in a wide sweeping statement not just in their sexual orientation) I still regard them has valuable and entitled to all the respect any other human deserves.
    You can disagree with someones life style and still regard them with extreme respect. You can support someone and allow their opinions to be valued even if you disagree with them.

    Lydia Hinshaw

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  42. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.~ Dr. Suess
    I really like this quote. All students should feel as if they can be who they are and not be judged or bullied. I teach 5th and 6th graders and at this point they are all awkward and trying to find self identity. Creating the safe environment for all children allows the freedom to be who they are and not judged. You do not have to agree with their ideas, sexuality, etc. but allow them the same opportunities.

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  43. Students should be accepted, supported, and loved, no matter what their differences. Prejudice comes from a fear of people who are different. Many people fear that their children will be taught to be homosexual, merely by being in the same room with someone from the LGBT community. As teachers, if we allow fear be in charge of our classrooms, we will be judgmental, disrespectful, and anxious. We won't be able to relax and enjoy our students and our classrooms, and we won't be caring teachers who make our students feel welcome.

    I have known many homosexual people in my life. My cousin came out when I was in my early 20s. I have seen first hand the prejudices and treatment he has had to endure. One of my closest friends is homosexual. My close friend who is homosexual once told me that although he loves himself for who he is, if he could choose to be heterosexual, he would be. His life is much for difficult because he is homosexual.

    I have observed homosexual tendencies in many of my students from a very young age. While some people believe that homosexuality is a learned behavior, I know from experience that it is as much a part of a person as the color of their eyes.
    The best way I can support my homosexual students is to accept them for who they are and to treat them exactly as I treat all of my students. I feel that education is also important. Homosexuality should be out in the open. One of the best advances we have made as a society is to be more accepting of the LGBT community. While we still have a long way to go, homosexuality is no longer the taboo subject that it once was. I know that people in the LGBT community are still not treated well by everyone. However, people are much more free to express themselves and their sexuality today than they were when I was growing up. This is encouraging.

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