The other day, in the middle of class, one male student called another a "faggot." I gave him the evilest eye I have, and he seemed genuinely shocked and confused by my reaction.
On another day during advisory, my cooperating teacher split the class into two teams and had them do the trust-building game where you have to get every member of your team standing on a small platform at once. One team was an even mix of girls and guys, but the other team was almost all male. While the first team succeeded by grabbing onto each other and carrying each other on piggyback, the second team refused to do anything like that because it was "too gay." (They lost.) I asked my CT later why he didn't say anything at the time, and he said, rightly I now think, that it's an issue that requires a much bigger conversation.
So in light of all these incidents, I've found myself engaging recently in "defensive teaching" when it comes to this issue. In our current events class I intentionally excluded articles on gay sheep and John Amaechi. I just didn't want to, or know how to, respond to the homophobic comments which would certainly come up.
Yesterday, we had a big debate over whether to use this image when talking about the causes of the French Revolution:
One teacher felt that the kids would not be able to handle it; they'd be hooting and hollering so much that they'd miss the point of the image. Another felt that they'd certainly remember this image and therefore the concept.
I'm leaning toward not including it, just because I don't know how to handle their certain homophobia. But by not including it, I'm denying them something I believe has educational value, and also the opportunity to deal with this issue.
But is my CT right? Is it impossible to let students know that it is simply NOT OKAY to say some of the things they routinely say in class about homosexuality without having a major conversation? And in the meantime, should we just avoid it at all costs? What hope do I have of changing kids' minds when this is an acceptable Super Bowl ad?
Has anyone had any success with this?