Gay and Bullied in NY State

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that whether it is “Gingerism”, anti-semitism, racism, or generalized bullying, I believe we need to do more to encourage respect, moral courage and self examination at our motives and actions toward those who are “different”. Here is another example, in Mohawk, NY,  Jacob Sullivan no longer at Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School after students and a teacher bullied him because of his sexual orientation.  How can we use this example to discuss issues of respect, self-awareness, and social justice?


  • Read the news article and listen to the NPR story and have  build a discussion around some of the main topics in this case:
    • What is the responsibility of a school in making a safe place for students to learn?
    • What if any are the boundaries to that?
    • What should the role be of a staff in a school to protect difference and individual expression?  Why?  Under what instances would you as a teacher intervene?  Why?
    • What about your role as a student in school? When is it your responsibility to act and intervene (if ever)?  Why?
  • Why did the justice department enter into this case?  What article are they citing?  What does that article say?
  • Ask students to examine their own “codes” for treating people.  What rules do they live by? Do they have a code or belief? How does their feelings about this situation mesh with their code?


Related Blog Entries:

  1. Bystander Responsibility
  2. Kick a Ginger Day



3 thoughts on “Gay and Bullied in NY State

  1. Julie Higgins says:

    hey–you’ve been on a roll writing this new year. great stuff! i love (and hate) this story about the bullying. do you have any good resources for teaching tolerance to younger kids, without scaring them? example, while the kids were learning about MLK this week one boy in the class yells out that MLK was shot for his actions. yikes…it was a teaching moment, for sure…
    tolerance, compassion, understanding are traits i try to teach my kids–mostly through example. i often feel like it’s a race against the machine…scary, really. do have any suggestions for things that have worked with your own kids?
    all the best,

    • Jb says:

      Thanks Julie! It is a great question about working on it with young kids. Most of my experience is with Middle to High School in looking at these issues and the work that Facing History and Ourselves does is very good. With our kids, we talk a lot about fairness and inclusion. They know and like the story of Rosa Parks. I’ved stay away from the persecution angle for now, though we do talk about ways to try to change people’s mind. Mostly, we talk about differences and diversity and how they make the world better. I’ll look into some specific elementary curriculum – any one out there have a recommendation?

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