Carl Walker-Hoover’s mother went on Ellen this week to encourage parents to become more involved in the running of their children’s schools and ensuring their children are safe. She has also started a Memorial Fund in Carl’s name in order to start bully prevention programs and support groups for bullied children in the schools. You can donate or ask for my information about the fund by writing to this address:
Carl J. Walker Trust Fund
c/o Hampden Bank
19 Harrison Avenue
Springfield, MA 01103
One of the horrifying things about Carl’s death is that he was apparently physically threatened the day he committed suicide, some one threatened to kill him, and the school apparently made no effort to contact his mother . . .
Educators and administrators
- get training:
- Girls and Boys Town offers training for educators on any number of crises
- PFLAG has tons of quick fact sheets on their website, and school based trainings for various groups. Click the link for a worksheet on creating Bully Free Schools
- The Think Before You Speak Campaign helps train educators to teach youth why using slurs, even when they are in popular usage, is not ok & was based on getting the “that’s so gay” comment out of schools
- start a GLBTQ group at your school: GLSEN’s Safe Space Program or GSA’s Beyond the Binary (which educates on gender diversity) are good places to start
- If you are in a California High school consider having a free GLBTQ movie series sponsored by Frameline
- Integrate diversity curriculum into your lesson plans (you should do this anyway); I really like the Rethinking Our Classrooms Series Vol I and Vol II, I’ve used essays from Speaking Out successfully with upper middle and high school students (may be dated) & the Brave New Girls Workbook with older grade school and middle school youth
- if girls are being bullied at your school, a girls empowerment group with an organization like Girls Inc, or talking to your local DSV shelter outreach coordinator or women’s center director for ideas about how to start a feminism 101 group
- Apply for a Teaching Tolerance Grant and impliment a diversity specific educational piece, library, safe space, etc. in your school
- Consider using the following age appropriate material to assess your school’s climate WITH students:
- Pt. I: Bullying Survey (k-5)
- Pt. II: Reflection Questions (K-5)
- Pt. I: Bully Quiz (grades 6-12)
- Pt. II: Follow Up Questions (grades 6-12)
- If you see bullying: take it seriously. stop it. use it as a learning opportunity. Get Training with TT’s Speak Up Program
- Regularly announce in your classes that you are available to anyone having a problem
- establish an open door policy during your lunch hour in your classroom on a designated day or days for people to talk (worse case scenario is you eat lunch with the class door open)
- offer to be a faculty advisor to students trying to start their own groups
- Ask the “Professional Development Questions for Teachers” from Teaching Tolerance Below list below and make changes where needed
- When was the last time you saw anti-gay harassment in your classroom? Did you intervene? If not, why not?
- Does your school’s policy on harassment include harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation? Does it include gender identity or gender presentation? What effect can policy — or the lack of it — have on the classroom experiences of students?
- Does your school have a Gay-Straight Alliance or other support group for GLBT students and their allies?
- If a student in your school experienced anti-gay harassment, who — if anyone — would that child approach for help? How would a student go about speaking to this person?
- Who are the advocates, in your community, for acceptance for GLBT and gender non-conforming community members?
- tell your teacher, adviser, and/or the principle
- If you feel safe enough, try to put your complaint in writing or ask someone to help you do so, so that there is a paper trail.
- Talk to your parents and tell them what you need to feel safe at school.
- Talk to your friends and take their words of encouragement to heart no matter how hard it is to believe.
- If you can, locate teachers who are sympathetic and/or supportive of you and ask them to watch out for you. If someone you ask turns out to be unsympathetic, don’t let it crush you, allies are out there.
- consider forming a parents and students support group, so you know you are not alone
- if you are queer, consider starting a gay-straight alliance at your school
- Become an advocate, GLSEN offers a youth training program to help youth become advocates in their schools
- if the issue your experiencing is related to racism – consider starting an ethnically/racially specific organization in your school, or if there are not enough students for that a poc group or poc and allies group may work to help you feel safer, less alone, and raise awareness in the school
- if you feel depressed, ask to see the school based counselor
If you need help or information and don’t feel safe getting it at your local school here are some national organizations:
- The Trevor Project – 24/7 online Q&A for GLBT and questioning youth or those experiencing homophobic and transphobic violence in school, 24/7 emergency help line (866) 4u-trevor (866-488-7386)
- Girls and Boys Town Suicide and Crisis Line – 24/7 emergency hotline for youth experiencing depression, sexual or physical abuse, homelessness, and/or other crisis (800) 448-3000
- Youth Crisis Line – (800) 448-4663
- National Teen LGBT hotline – open evening from 7-11 pm call (800) 347-teen
- keep a close eye not only on the mood and routine of your own children but also their friends and the other kids you may see when you pick them up or attend school functions
- routinely talk to your children about their day, their interests, and their friends
- if they mention bullying – remain calm so they feel safe telling you the details, validate their feelings, and tell them you want to work with them to stop the bullying.
- if your child is bullied make sure to let them know bullying is not their fault. work with them on solutions while also working to strengthen both their self-esteem and their positive friendships
- provide your child with non-violent reactions to bullying behaviors both to interrupt bullying if they are bullied and also if they see bullying (do this before any incident occurs as part of the basic school survival tool kit you give your children just like pencils and paper)
- always follow up with them and with the school; schedule in the time the way you would any really important meeting
- if they seem depressed or angry consider getting them professional help – either one on one or in a support group that will give them a safe place to talk about their feelings
- encourage your child to look out for the kids who are ostracized
- teach them to befriend kids who are different than them
- teach them to report bullying and/or to intervene if it feels safe to do so
- teach them that real time and internet bullying is not ok no matter who they are or what other people have done
- get involved in the school – know the teachers, principles, counselors, etc.
- start a parents against bullying group or a regular social group in which you can discuss these kinds of concerns informally and attend PTA where you can discuss them formally
This is a short list of resources, if you are a grade, middle, or high school teacher or student who has other suggestions please put them in the comment sections. And take the pledge to interrupt bullying.