Stopping Anti-LGBTQ Bullying
Responding to Anti-gay or Homophobic Language
Immediately intervene to stop negative language.
1. If you know the student, connect first so she or he can hear you, not shut your direction down and grasps that your tone is assertive but not aggressive.
For example, “Miguel, you have a good head on your shoulders.” “Angela, you often have a good sense of humor.” “Jacque, I need a moment with you now please.”
2. Tell the aggressor to stop. Interrupt the behavior. Be assertive and matter of fact in tone. Maintain eye contact and signal that you care about her/his negative behavior because you want to ensure all students are safe. Make sure everyone can hear you, if appropriate. Remember that no action is action. Youth of marginalized identities need this intervention from adults and other students to know they are safe, and other students are listening to the intervention as an expectation that anti-gay language is not acceptable in their school community.
For example: “Please do not use that word in our school.” “Language like that is not okay in our school.” “Stop that.” “It’s not okay to say that in my classroom/at this school.”
3. Educate. It’s critical that a teachable moment is taken when anti-gay bullying or harassment is being done. Be sure to say “why” you have interrupted the negative language. Be clear, give eye contact and be assertive, yet calm.
For example: “Calling someone “gay/dyke/faggot, etc.” is a put down to people who identify as LGBT or have a friend or family member that identifies this way.” “Even if you did not mean gay as a putdown, it’s still a word that people use to describe themselves and it is not okay to use the word in this manner.”
Assumptions about expecting a person to express their gender within societal roles and expectations about gender can leave out people who are gender nonconforming. For example, hearing someone refer to a group of boys as “girls” or putting down someone who does not follow gender roles as it relates to clothing, accessories, mannerisms, hairstyle, etc. should also be addressed as bullying behavior.
4. Support the targeted student either publicly or privately, depending on the context and/or follow up privately. Check in with the student who was called a name to make sure she or he is okay, and let the student see and know that you care.
5. Hold students accountable. Broward County Public Schools has a harassment and discrimination policy and a bullying policy that does not allow anti-gay namecalling or homophobic slurs. Make sure disciplinary action is taken.