In a February post on my blog, I speculated that, after three years together, Sam’s classmates might actually be getting used to him. Used to the idea of a boy with hair flowing down his back who wears pink shirts and doesn’t like sports.
I was wrong.
Toward the end of second grade, a girl in his class started harassing him. Started calling him “girl” in a nasty tone of voice, taunting him that his name is not Sam but “Samantha,” teasing that he had “big boobs.”
I contacted the teachers, the school counselor, the principal. I said: I cannot have my son bullied by this child. You must not allow this. They agreed, and launched into swift action: a talk with the girl, a talk with her parents, a required apology note to Sam scrawled on lined paper. The message was sent: it’s not OK to bully this child because he is different.
But I’m left wondering, what makes a child start taunting a peer whom they have mostly left alone since kindergarten?
The school has been lax on gender-diversity education; after foot-dragging for years they finally offered the teachers a 45-minute tutorial through Gender Spectrum. If there had been more education, would this child have known better? If the school had really committed to teaching tolerance to faculty and students—as some schools do—would this child have been prevented from bullying my son, rather than being chastised and shamed after the damage was done?
I’d like to know.
The resources are out there: Gender Spectrum; Teach Tolerance; the Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools Program; and others listed on my resource page. So how can we get schools to invite the resources in?
Let me know what you think.