Dana Rudolph

HRC Releases "Introduction to Welcoming Schools" Guide

Filed By Dana Rudolph | April 30, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: anti-bullying, bullying, education policy, ellen kahn, HRC, safe schools, welcoming schools

Thewelcoming_schools.jpg recent suicides of two young boys after repeated bullying at school have made many of us, myself included, wonder what we could do. One of the ways the HRC Foundation Family Project has responded is to push up the May release of its "Introduction to Welcoming Schools" guide, "An Inclusive Approach to Addressing Family Diversity, Gender Stereotyping and Name-Calling in K-5 Learning Environments." It is now available at the Welcoming Schools Web site, and chock-full of resources, ideas, exercises, and additional reading suggestions.

I covered the project when it first launched as a pilot program over a year ago. I'm pleased to hear that it has only gotten better after tests in New Bedford, Mass., and urban locations in the Midwest and West Coast.

Ellen Kahn, director of the Family Project, explains:

The new [online] publication includes findings from the first year of the pilot (12 schools in 3 districts thus far) and is essentially a scaled-down version of the full Guide--a primer, you might say. This is a great resource for LGBT parents, educators, and all concerned adults who are part of K-5 environment who want to more effectively address LGBT diversity/inclusion as part of their broader approach to anti-bullying/safe schools/character-development programs and curricula.

As Lawrence J. Finnerty, Ed.D., Retired Assistant Superintendent of the New Bedford Public Schools, said in his introduction to the Guide, "To expect that students will know how to handle issues related to teasing, gender stereotyping and bullying without specific, well-informed instruction is folly." I know not everyone here agrees with everything HRC does, but I urge you to give the Guide a look, regardless. It is one of the best places I've found for parents and educators to learn how to provide just the kind of instruction that is needed.

For more safe-schools materials, see my Back-to-School Resource List over at Mombian.

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Thanks for this, Dana; glad they're speeding the release of the scaled-down guide. I've been on the Family Diversity Task Force in my school district, one of the ones that piloted the curriculum last year. It really is a tremendous curriculum: looked great before it began, and got better during and after piloting.

An online, scaled-down version for parents and teachers and PTAs and school administrators to consult on their own is great. Ideally folks will work in concert -- indeed, any real good work at a school can only happen when all these parties do work together. It takes time and perseverance.

If people at schools really worked with the lessons and approaches in this guide, plus consulted and internalized GLSEN's school climate surveys, we'd be a lot closer to the kind of compassionate school culture (and teacher/administration practices) that might help save kids like Carl and Jaheem (and the countless others like them) in the future.

I have always wished that something like this would become available for private organizations to use and would be marketed to them. Things like Martial Arts, Music and Dance Schools along with sports programs like soccer and baseball.
I own a music school and also teach martial arts, and I have long wanted to see stuff like this presented to those types of organizations.
I have been slowly adding things to a program for martial arts instructors.
Thanks for letting us know about this.

Excellent point, Rob. No reason this has to be confined to academic schools. As a black belt in taekwondo myself, I think martial arts schools in particular are perfect places from which to teach anti-bullying skills.

So why aren't we putting something together for that? I Imagine that Triangle Martial Arts Association would be interested in helping to make it available.
It could be put together to reach Martial Arts and sporting programs and dance schools.

Thanksw for the post.

The welcome guide is great but we need much more.

In the situations of the two boys who recently committed suicide, neither of the principals nor the school district administrators protected the boys, just like most principals don’t protect most targets of bullying and abuse.

Also notice that none of the teachers or the other kids stood up to the bullies. Shame.

That's why we need laws to force principals to act and to protect them from countersuits by bullying parents trying to protect their vicious little darlings (like Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series).

At the same time, we also can’t and shouldn’t count on schools to protect our children from hurt feelings all the time. We must help our children develop the inner grit and resilience to know how to protect themselves from verbal harassment as well as from physical abuse.

I'm the father of six children and we live in Denver, home of Columbine High School.

Disclosure: I’m the author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” and “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids.” See my web site and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com). Or Twitter @BulliesBeGone.