If interested in modeling this dialogue in your own classroom, please use the following guidelines to assist in ensuring a positive and productive discussion. This lesson is part of the Not In Our School Video Action Kit, a comprehensive toolkit featuring films, lessons, and resources designed to motivate students to speak out against bullying, and create new ways to make their schools safe for everyone. Age-level: middle and high school students
Sexual Identity and Gender
Palo Alto High School students urge their peers to take action in response to the school shooting of 15-year-old Oxnard, CA student Lawrence "Larry" King, who was perceived to be gay. Some of these students are members of the school's Gay and Straight Alliance (GSA) and also performers in the Palo Alto High production of "The Laramie Project," a play about Laramie, Wyoming's response to the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. (2:56)
When English teacher Jan Speller hears the expression "that's so gay," she tells her students at El Camino High School in South San Francisco "and gay is a good thing" to encourage them to think about the meaning of the saying. (:42)
In a lively class discussion, Gunn High School students in Roni Habib's Facing History and Ourselves class challenge the saying "That's so gay." This is a phrase that many students hear constantly and watching this film can inspire the viewers to speak up next time they hear it. Discussion Questions: The teacher in the video opens the discussion with his students asking if they feel it is necessary to say something if they hear they term, “That’s so gay.” What do you think? One student justified the use of the expression stating that it was not meant to hurt people who are gay and “everyone says it.” Does it make a difference that the term is so commonly used? Does this make it harder to challenge its use? In the discussion, one student says that there is danger in allowing the “little things” (like biased words) to become acceptable because this can lead to larger and more serious forms of prejudice. Can you think of examples in your own life or in history where this has been true? It can be really hard to think of what to say in the face of hurtful words. What were the examples that students’ shared that were effective? (“Gay doesn’t mean stupid” and “I have gay friends and that’s offensive.”) Can you think of other responses that could be effective? To turn on closed captioning for this film, click play, then click the Subtitles/CC button on the bottom of the video player.
Theater director and Not In Our Town leader Barbara Williams staged one of 150 performances of the premiere of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later," revisiting the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. This epilogue of "The Laramie Project," the original play about the reaction of the townspeople of Laramie, Wyoming, to Shepard's death, captures the town ten years after. Williams, a retired high school teacher, used the original play years before with her students at Newark High School when a local transgender teen was murdered -- a story featured in the documentary "Not In Our Town Northern California." Williams says her experience directing the sequel reinforced her desire to recommit to the Not In Our Town movement and anti-hate work. (4:54)
Across the country, students and teachers are sharing stories, joining together and taking action to create safe schools, free from stereotypes, intolerance, and hate. They’re part of a movement called Not In Our School (NIOS). Learn how to start a NIOS campaign at your school with our free Not In Our School Quick Start Guide. To turn on closed captioning, click the Subtitles/CC icon on the bottom right of the video player. This video is part of the Not In Our School Video Action Kit, a comprehensive toolkit featuring films, lessons, and resources designed to motivate students to speak out against bullying, and create new ways to make their schools safe for everyone. Learn more about the Video Action Kit.
Facing History and Ourselves combats racism, antisemitism, and religious prejudice by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe. The purpose of this lesson idea is to provide some general strategies for using any of the Not in Our School videos. We encourage you to check out other lesson ideas that Facing History and Ourselves has developed for specific Not in Our School videos and for using the website in general: