Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Old Golden Rule Days

Son brought home this letter on Wednesday night, October 29. Image is below, then text below that, and I've edited only the identifying parts of the letter, not any of the content.

October 31, 2008

Dear Parent, Guardian, or other family member,

On November 12th Small Town Middle School, along with over 9000 schools in the United States, will participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day. Mix It Up is a project that supports student efforts to indentify, question and cross social boundaries in schools and communities. The lunch activity prompts students to swap seats in their school cafeterias, break out of their zones and meet new people. Our hope is that students will take a fresh look at their school environments and ask why the barriers that divide groups exist. Students and their teacher allies can help form safe, welcoming schools- places where every students [sic] can grow socially and academically. The goal of Mix It Up is to help make that possible.

In preparation for Mix It Up we ill be showing the video, Let's Get Real. This video depicts middle and junior high school students speaking frankly about their experiences as people who bully, people who are victimes of bullying, and people who intervene in the bullying process to become allies for others. The video will be shown the morning of November 12th to the 7th and 8th grade students.

As we spotlight this topic which is not often openliy discussed in school, we expect students may have strong emotional responses. This film may remind them of their own personal experiences with name-calling or harassment. The students in the film use their own colloquial language to describe their experiences, which sometimes includes words that would otherwise be inapprpriate in the classroom. The inclusion of these words in the film will facilitate discussion about why those words exist, their impact and how to minimize their use in our school in the future.

Students in the film also bring up issues of teen suicide and using violence or a weapon to harm their harassers. We ill discuss these topics and students will know where they can turn-including to you-if they are dealing with simialr feelings in their own lives.

You are invited to come to school on November 7th at 11:00 in room 117 to preview Let's Get Real and discuss some of the activities from the curriculum guide. Our discussion will include strategies for students as well as parents, guardians and other family members on how to deal with name-calling and bullying.

Please feel free to contact me, our assistant principal or one of our counselors if you have any questions or concerns.


_____ ________
Small Town Middle School Principal

The most interesting thing about this is that the letter fell through a time warp from two days in the future.

The second-most interesting thing about this letter is that it dances, quite adroitly, around the actual topic. When Son handed me the letter, and I read it, my fairy-sense started tingling. The letter was very obviously a way for the principal to tell the parents that they were going to be talking, among other things, about LTBQG(etc.)-bashing, but the principal was hoping that the bland tone of the letter wouldn't cause the whackadoodle spittle emitters in the community to storm the gates of the school. A quick check on IMDB confirmed my suspicions.

I intend to show up for the preview of Let's Get Real and the following discussion. I'm waiting for someone to pipe up that they don't want their kids to be exposed to the homos. I'm pretty damn tired of being a walking wedge issue.

I wrote to the principal last night to tell her that I was looking forward to the preview and that I thought her mastery of euphemism and misdirection was awe-inspiring. She hasn't written back. I suspect she's trying to figure out if I'm a crank or not.


Anonymous said...

I suspect she's embarrassed at being called on her asshattery. Most principals are used to dealing with kids -- kids they can effectively shut down with a threat of "Permanent Record" -- and a parent actually calling them on their shit is freaky.

Good luck at the preview. Bear's school showed the film to the upper grades (6th, 7th and 8th, if I recall) and did another program for the younger set. If there wasn't much kerfluffle at Snooty Private All-Girl'S School, you might be OK.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Kids have so many issues to face now, don't they? Mine son is grown (legally anyway) and they certainly didn't have anything like this when he was in middle school (they played 'Prince of Egypt' in HISTORY), so it is nice that some school systems are addressing these issues.

Luckily, your son will be fine. Maybe you will be allowed to educate others.

Steven at Green Dads said...

Go for it.

Your comment might have gone right over her head.

GDad said...

I was actually kinder to the principal than my post seems to indicate. I let her know that I was truly entertained by her little dance, then I asked her if the school had experienced any issues of anti-QLBTG(etc.) discrimination.

No response yet.

Jen said...

As I was reading the memo I figured this must be what it was about. They wouldn't bother sending a note home otherwise. Good luck, and not like Joe Soucheray means it.