When pre-service teachers are being trained, they need to understand the golden rule and how to model, teach, and enact this rule with their future students. Treating others the way you want to be treated must be considered as a necessary instructional component to a teacher’s duty as it contributes to a positive safe climate that can combat bullying (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 6). This week’s reading on homophobic bullying emphasizes the need for this. Regardless of your own personal opinions, all people have the right to exist and should not be marginalized because others don’t agree with their identity. The article notes that “… students reported that teachers were much more likely to intervene when they heard racist or sexist comments than when they heard homophobic comments (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 5).” Bullying in schools is a major concern and teachers are at the front lines of defense against this movement. The media can be integrated to teach students about stereotypes, bias, and the negative consequences on others. For example, video clips from popular TV shows can be utilized in the classroom to examine how marginalized groups like GLBTQI are treated (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 10). Students can engage in discussions with peers around bullying using popular culture. Their teachers can also capitalize on this by stressing the importance of social justice and treating everyone with respect and dignity. In order for educators to be prepared to handle bullying, they need adequate training in teacher’s college on how to address such matters so that they can influence their students in a positive way. “Culturally relevant pedagogy can be utilized as a conduit for preservice teachers so that they can relate to, and make connections with diverse kinds of families, including families with parents or guardians that identify as GLBTQI” (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 7). Increasing understanding of each other is a much-needed trait of today’s global citizens – which is what students should be trained to eventually become.
Reflecting on my own classroom experience, bullying can bring up difficult conversations with students. In these conversations, I have tried to highlight the commonalities that exist between human beings. At times, it has been challenging when young students bring up their own cultural or religious beliefs, which may form their opinions around GLBTQI individuals. In hindsight, I think that the use of video clips or examples from popular culture could have supported the class discussions. Utilizing such popular culture examples would have helped my students dig deeper into the issue and realise how bullying can impact the victim. This could support the notion of the golden rule, which highlights how every person, regardless of their identity, has a right to be treated with respect.
Happel-Parkins, A. & Esposito, J. (2015) “Using popular culture texts in the classroom to interrogate issues of gender transgression related bullying,” Educational Studies 51(1), pp. 3-16.