Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I just found out that it is No Name-Calling Week. If you want to learn more, go to GLSEN for a description, history, lesson plans, and helpful links. From the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network page:

No Name-Calling Week was inspired by the popular young adult novel entitled The Misfits by popular author James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. The friends create a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. The No-Name Party in the end, wins the support of the school's principal for their cause and their idea for a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.

Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea, the No Name-Calling Week Coalition created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children's publishing, consisting of over 60 national partner organizations, organized an actual No Name-Calling Week in schools across the nation. Since then, No Name-Calling Week has been adopted by schools everywhere and has grown into one of the largest bullying-prevention initiatives in the country.

Since I only just discovered this, I have no way of knowing whether the Howard County School System observes this. I certainly hope they do. If you know more, tell me. In the meantime, here are some groups I'd like to see adopt a No Name-Calling Week:

  • High School students on Twitter before an anticipated weather event. (!)
  • Members of the Board of Education
  • Members of HCCA
  • People who comment on news articles
  • Middle school students who think it's okay to say "faggot"

I mention that last one because my daughter says she thinks they might be doing something at her school for No Name-Calling Week, but she is almost positive there will be no acknowledgement of its LGBTQ roots. If that's true, it's a shame. Refusing to even name a portion of our students because it would just be too controversial is a kind of name calling unto to itself.

You think kids miss that kind of subtlety? Nah. It's so much easier to marginalize classmates when the system renders them invisible already. Middle school is rough. We know that. Having a No Name-Calling Week can give adults an opportunity to work with students, but how effective will it be if everyone involved knows that some issues are off the table?

I suggest that we can all observe No Name-Calling Week not merely by silence, but by speaking out--for those whose voices are ignored or suppressed.


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