By Darius Kemp
What would you do if you were pushed down? Hopefully, you would get back up. It is this basic philosophy of life that parents, teachers, and staff at Nettelhorst Elementary School in Chicago are teaching their students.
The book “How to Walk to School” illustrates Nettelhorst’s transformation from an under-performing, struggling urban school into one of the best schools in Chicago.
However, this past year Nettelhorst had an issue with homophobia and anti-gay bullying of a teacher and students with same-sex parents. The Chicago Sun Times reports that,“One substitute teacher, who is also a Nettelhorst parent, was called a faggot. A first-grader was singled out by classmates — a group of 6-year-olds just couldn’t believe someone could have two dads.”
What makes the Nettelhorst School different is that they took immediate action to demonstrate that bullying of any kind was not allowed. They were not content to stop there, as most schools would be in the sensitive age that we live in.
In May, teachers and parents, both gay and straight, collected ribbons and created a rainbow “Pride Fence” with a sign that read: “Each Nettelhorst student has tied a piece of fabric to the fence as a tangible sign of his or her personal intention to create a better world.”
Furthermore, to show children and the neighborhood that fighting intolerance and bullying is not a one-time event, parents and teachers from the school will march in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade to demonstrate their support for inclusion in our schools and in our towns.
Without any pressure from anyone, heterosexual and homosexual parents alike have decided to do more than just talk about inclusion: they decided to model it.
This is a prime example of a community standing up and teaching children how to get back up when they are pushed down.