Girls’ sports a hotbed for gay shaming
Dear Straight Talk: My twin sister and I play basketball. Two teammates are openly gay and rumor has it the whole team is gay and we have sex with each other. We have no problem with our gay teammates in the locker room and have never sensed any interest in our bodies. That said, we are not gay and we resent being stereotyped just because two teammates are. Even though we love playing basketball, we've seriously considered quitting the team over this. Your thoughts? —17, Santa Ana, Calif.
Editor's Note: Anytime the subject of bullying comes up (which includes cyberbulling, shaming, or excluding), I can't help but mention the only truly effective solution for it — the Safe School Ambassadors program. There is no other program nationally or globally that is like it, nor are any others anywhere near as effective. The solution to bullying is here now. Bullying is no longer an inevitable "fact of life" that we shake our heads and say, "that's just how humans are." The program demonstrates that that's simply not true, it's just that most humans are followers.
The evidence-based, widely-successful Safe School Ambassadors program is genius in that it works by enlightening and training, say out of a school of 800, the 40 most popular kids from every clique on campus, as well as popular teachers. Once these kids are awakened and trained, they know what to do and when to seek a teacher's help, and everyone follows them because they're the social leaders and that's what humans do. The program makes it cool to be a great person. The Safe Schools Ambassador program works with the human propensity to follow and imitate popularity instead of a top-down authoritarian approach which is cool to resist. If you are a student or parent, talk to your school about this program through www.community-matters.org. They have systems in place to help schools acquire funding.
Check out our interviews of Ambassadors from several inner-city schools who marveled at their own school's transformation in our column of APR 27, 2011.
Top-down punitive measures against bullying generally don't work and just add more trauma to the mix. "Once-and-done" anti-bullying assemblies might assuage an administrator's guilt, but they don't begin to dent the problem — and they cost money, too. We must wake up to the fact that schools are societal incubators and that programs like Safe School Ambassadors need to be part of our education budget. A society-wide effort is needed to rein in the "industry of shame" and teaching our children compassionate empathy and engagement is the best landscape of all for this to take root. —Lauren
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