Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—but it also kicks off No Name-Calling Week, “an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.”
The event is organized by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), in partnership with a whole host of LGBT, educational, youth, and social justice organizations (including, I’ll note, the Girl Scouts but not the Boy Scouts). They have produced a series of lesson plans for different ages, along with a variety of other resources. Good stuff.
Additionally, educational film company Groundspark is offering free streaming of its anti-bullying and anti-name-calling film Let’s Get Real. Aimed at students in grades five through nine, it is notable for not preaching at kids, but rather letting them speak in their own voices about race, sexual orientation (real and perceived), learning disabilities, religious differences, sexual harassment, and more. They talk about how they have stood up to bullies—and in some cases, what has caused them to bully themselves. There’s also a curriculum guide to assist teachers and others in discussions of the film.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Groundspark’s founder, Academy Award-winner (and lesbian mom) Debra Chasnoff, about several of her other films, Straightlaced (on gender stereotypes), It’s STILL Elementary (on teaching elementary students about gay people), and Choosing Children (on the first wave of lesbians choosing to be parents after coming out.) Good films all, and highly recommended.
Because it’s also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’ll end with a quote from Dr. King, from his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Here’s hoping this week can help students, teachers, and families better understand our mutual network of humanity.