Write 500 times: Skools in Louisiana suk
December 2, 2003 5:57 PM   Subscribe

'Gay' Is Not a Dirty Word. The ACLU is outing a Louisiana Elementary school which punished a second grader for using the word "gay" when answering a classmate's question about his family. Not only did the teacher freak, sending little Marcus to the principal's office for using a "bad word", but the school made Marcus go to a behavioral clinic the following week and repeatedly write “I will never use the word ‘gay’ in school again.” Great use of a teachable moment for all. Extra credit assignment (these require Acrobat): (Student Behavior Contract) (Behavioral Incident Report)
posted by msacheson (91 comments total)
 
I read this shit earlier today, and thought: whatever happened to the teachers humanity?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:07 PM on December 2, 2003


Here's a thought: what if the student was using the word as a slur, and that's what the punishment is for?
posted by weston at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2003


I wonder. Every instance of what the word "queer" was used for when I was in middle school has has "gay" substituted for it now, as I learn from listening to my middle-school daughter and her male and female classmates of all colors. "Those pants are so gay." Apparently the word "gay," meaning "homosexual-with-positive-associations," is still (as the Bard said) caviare to the general. It's possible you yourselves, oh average mefi members, might feal that ole punitive impulse if you heard a schoolkid say "gay" and picked up on the context and emphasis.
posted by jfuller at 6:10 PM on December 2, 2003


> has has

has had.
posted by jfuller at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2003


this kid was obviously not using gay as a derogatory term...the officials and the teacher at this school are just imbeciles.
posted by amberglow at 6:13 PM on December 2, 2003


Here's another thought: RTFA.

It clearly states that this student's parents are lesbians and he was explaining to another student what "gay" meant.
posted by AaRdVarK at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2003


My impression from reading the 'Student Behavior Contract' and the 'Behavioral Incident Report' was that the teacher had no problem ascertaining what the child was talking about. Seems pretty clear to me that the kid wasn't using the term 'gay' in a negative connotation, but only as a matter of fact. I'm having a hard time figuring out what the little guy did wrong...
posted by matty at 6:15 PM on December 2, 2003


Weston, you seem to have a little problem with reading comprehension. Do you honestly think that a second-grader was speaking pejoratively about his mothers?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:22 PM on December 2, 2003


Using the N word at UVa.

Plus a small but relevant swipe from Monty Python (Life of Brian) courtesy of Volokh Conspiracy.

OFFICIAL: You have been found guilty by the elders of the town of uttering the name of our Lord, and so, as a blasphemer,...
CROWD: Ooooh!
OFFICIAL: ...you are to be stoned to death.
CROWD: Ahh!
MATTHIAS: Look. I-- I'd had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was, 'That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.'
CROWD: Oooooh!
OFFICIAL: Blasphemy! He's said it again!
CROWD: Yes! Yes, he did! He did!...
OFFICIAL: Did you hear him?!
CROWD: Yes! Yes, we did! We did!...
WOMAN #1: Really!
[silence]
* * * *
OFFICIAL: * * * Now, where were we?
MATTHIAS: Look. I don't think it ought to be blasphemy, just saying 'Jehovah'.
CROWD: Oooh! He said it again! Oooh!...
OFFICIAL: You're only making it worse for yourself!
MATTHIAS: Making it worse?! How could it be worse?! Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!
CROWD: Oooooh!...
OFFICIAL: I'm warning you. If you say 'Jehovah' once more-- [MRS. A. stones OFFICIAL]
Right. Who threw that?
MATTHIAS: [laughing]
[silence]
OFFICIAL: Come on. Who threw that?
CROWD: She did! It was her! He! He. Him. Him. Him. Him. Him. Him.
OFFICIAL: Was it you?
MRS. A.: Yes.
OFFICIAL: Right!
MRS. A.: Well, you did say 'Jehovah'.
CROWD: Ah! Ooooh!...
[CROWD stones MRS. A.]
OFFICIAL: Stop! Stop, will you?! Stop that! Stop it! Now, look! No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle! Do you understand?! Even, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if they do say 'Jehovah'.
CROWD: Ooooooh!...
[CROWD stones OFFICIAL]
WOMAN #1: Good shot!
[clap clap clap]
posted by jfuller at 6:27 PM on December 2, 2003


I'm having a hard time figuring out what the little guy did wrong...
Ummm, maybe he's spreading the homosexual agenda?

on preview: I'm having a hard time figuring out jfuller's point....
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:30 PM on December 2, 2003


Having grown up in this subdivision, I guess it's a good thing that authority wasn't quite so harsh in my school days.
posted by JanetLand at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2003


Doesn't this sound like something from the 50's? Makng a student write something repeatedly...that's so...Simpson's.



posted by msacheson at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2003


What I did: I sed bad wurds.
What happened because I did what I did: Lineing up fur riyses.
What I should have done: Cep my mouf shut.
What would have happened if I had done what I should have done: I wud be at riyses.

OK, either this kid is fucking around with the ridiclous student punishment formalities (in which case he's a genius), or the teacher hasn't actually been teaching anything, in addition to being generally a homophobic asshat.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:39 PM on December 2, 2003


err.. ridiculous. It's catching on.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2003


My mind boggles that this could happen in 2003. It is this type of behaviour that makes me despair that the human race can ever line in harmony, or even deserves to.

If this is the way our children are being taught, then roll on Armageddon, I say.
posted by dg at 7:06 PM on December 2, 2003


On an only distantly related topic: What exactly is this "behaviour contract" the kid has, and how/why is it that a minor can be held to a contract anyway?
posted by kaemaril at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2003


Weston: Here's a thought: what if the student was using the word as a slur, and that's what the punishment is for?

Do you think that happens to kids using the word as a slur, in La.? That they are punished? Have you heard of that happening at all anywhere in the US? Do you usually comment before reading the links?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2003


Here's a thought: What if he said it WHILE HIGH ON PCP AND HOLDING A SAMURAI SWORD?
posted by 2sheets at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2003


I wonder if the teacher would have also reprimanded the boy if she heard him explaining the term blowjob "it's when a woman ..... a man's ...." I bet you the teacher wouldn't make a big deal out of it.
posted by gregb1007 at 7:22 PM on December 2, 2003


I saw this story and was simply astounded by it. And since the name and address of the principal has been published by the ACLU, I certainly hope that the story makes its way around to a few of the gay pride organizations...whom I'm sure will be interested to learn that their lifestyle, their families and their partners have become a dirty word if anyone should try to say something non-derogatory about gays. I hope the principle, the district and the teacher drown in the paperwork this little bit of bigotry should cause.

That said, I agree with PrinceValium...how on earth could a child that age not know how to spell simple words...wtf are they teaching down there in the bayous?
posted by dejah420 at 7:28 PM on December 2, 2003


They better go after Fred Flintstone next. I hear he's having a gay ol' time.
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2003


And in the same vein...

Folks in Texas protest against a high school club for gay students. "I just pray now that concerned parents will contact the school teachers sponsoring the homosexual club and express their concerns and ask them to stop sponsoring the club."

What's going on these days, man.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2003


Dumb teachers, this reminds me of this story...

Jewish Student Allowed to Wear Star of David Pendant
as Mississippi School Board Reverses Policy


Which is dumber, thinking the Star of David is some sort of "gang symbol", or that gay is a "bad word"?
posted by bobo123 at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2003


I wonder if the teacher and principal didn't know that his parents are lesbians. The boy's conversation with his classmates would certainly seem unusual and shocking.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2003


FFF: so shouldn't their first course of action be to check the facts? Not punish him for the use of a word that his parents adopt for themselves? Or is it the policy of 'shoot first, ask questions later?'
posted by dash_slot- at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2003


"wtf are they teaching down there in the bayous" Oh, you would cry if you knew...

My parents moved my family from Thibadeaux, Louisiana in 1978 when they were at a PTA meeting and the principal was asked a question by a parent. His answer was, and I really do quote him here, "Hmmm, don't make me no nevermind." That just about put the nail in the coffin for us staying in the bayous....

Onwards and upwards to Berkeley, California.
posted by aacheson at 7:56 PM on December 2, 2003


Wow. Not only did the teacher actively discourage open discussion on a subject that sorely needs it if the boy is to avoid being ripped apart by his classmates, but the school teaches kids that authority figures can compel them to sign contracts.
posted by Nothing at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2003


how on earth could a child that age not know how to spell simple words

You're joking, right? The kid's in second grade. Expecting a kid that age to spell everything, or even most things, right is unrealistic. After all, he's only been doing it two years.
posted by kindall at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2003


What exactly is this "behaviour contract" the kid has

The behavior contracts I've encountered in schools are different from this one. It's usually a list of classroom expectations sent home at the beginning of the school year. It's a formal way for the teacher to make sure the families of the students are on board with the school rules. In the contracts I've seen, the parents sign it with the child after reading it over.
posted by neuroshred at 8:17 PM on December 2, 2003


how on earth could a child that age not know how to spell simple words

If you think this is bad, imagine teaching 9th graders who spell bias "byiss". I lasted one day (self-link).
posted by neuroshred at 8:26 PM on December 2, 2003


I used to work for ETS grading the essay portion of the California High School Equivalency Exam. Yowzas. For a little perspective, the kid in this thread would likely get a 2 out of 4.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:36 PM on December 2, 2003


Ah... for those picking on Weston, are you saying that it would have been OK if he'd been punished for saying it as a slur?
posted by namespan at 9:17 PM on December 2, 2003


I wonder if the teacher and principal didn't know that his parents are lesbians.
Why would that make a difference anyway? What business is it of the teacher or the school what the sexual preference of a child's parent/s is? Would it be better if the child was explaining what "straight" means?
posted by dg at 9:36 PM on December 2, 2003


wow.
posted by troutfishing at 9:51 PM on December 2, 2003


how gay.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2003


namespan, i think they're just upset because he jumped to an odd conclusion without reading about it.

on preview, Keyser, that is very offensive. I'm sure you're joking, nevertheless, it's not appreciated. Stereotypes based on class status are unacceptable, replacing derogatory adjectives with groups you think exhibit those qualities is offensive.
posted by rhyax at 10:10 PM on December 2, 2003


Since when was sexuality a class staus? Aren't we all the same?

And I am not replacing derogatory adjectives on a whim. Just because my language use does not have distinction between something that is gay and someone that is gay does not make me a 'hate monger.'

I love you like I love every member of metafilter, but get over it. Gay used to mean happy before the queers got their grubby hands on it. :)

lol and queer used to mean something else before then.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:34 PM on December 2, 2003


oh yeah, and i take it back if you were making light of it.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:35 PM on December 2, 2003


rhyax: stop being so damn gay.
posted by item at 11:03 PM on December 2, 2003


Easton: No apology owed to student:

"I feel like any discussion by a child of a parent’s sexual orientation is inappropriate for children that age,? School Board President David Thibodaux said. "I would not want my children discussing sexuality with their friends."

But also...

Board member Ricky Hardy, however, said the school should make amends.

"There is no question about it. They should apologize to the mother and the kid and they should do it publicly," Hardy said. "It was an adult mistake and we should be responsible enough to make the right choices."


I find it interesting that, despite the documents sent home to the boys mother, School District Superintendent Easton would just out and out deny that the child was being punished for using the word "gay."
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:28 PM on December 2, 2003


Wow, well, I would have hoped that the quality of discussion here would be better than someone making fun of my sexuality.
posted by rhyax at 1:14 AM on December 3, 2003


whatever happened to the teachers humanity?

columbine?

"first it's coarse language, then the references to deviant sex, and the next thing you know they're storming the teacher's lounge with assault rifles."
posted by quonsar at 1:57 AM on December 3, 2003


Here's a thought: what if the student was using the word as a slur, and that's what the punishment is for?

weston, here's a thought: why not read the link?
posted by quonsar at 1:59 AM on December 3, 2003


quonsar: in a grade school? besides, arent all US schools protected with metal detectors yet?

item: i see no smiley, you are making some sort of point, right?

keyser soze: wtf? "Gay used to mean happy before the queers got their grubby hands on it. :) lol and queer used to mean something else before then." This is provocative nonsense.

You are trying to derail this thread. What, may I ask, are your views on the post, and the incidents which inspired it?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:05 AM on December 3, 2003


weston, here's a thought: why not read the link?

quonsar, here's a thought: why not read the thread?
posted by quonsar at 2:12 AM on December 3, 2003


quonsar: in a grade school? besides, arent all US schools protected with metal detectors yet?

the kids glocks keep setting them off and the alarms upset the short bus club whose parents threatened to sue, so they shut 'em down.
posted by quonsar at 2:18 AM on December 3, 2003


I feel that a 2nd grader that just happened to use the word "gay" got in trouble, and because I have been in second grade myself (3 or 4 times) it seems to be a biased punishment because of the kids parental situation.

I remember saying that word in 2nd grade along with everyone else, and that may be why the ACLU got involved.

Now, back to the thread derail. Im not making fun of anyones sexuality and even if I came across that way brush it off and live your life.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:18 AM on December 3, 2003


quonsar shows yet again why a robust sense of humour and a magnanimous ability to admit mistakes is an attractive combo.

keyser soze, on the other hand, doesn't.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:42 AM on December 3, 2003


"This is provocative nonsense."

Allright dash, please tell everyone here what the word "Gay" in America meant before the sexual revolution. I always thought it used to mean happy. Oh, and if your not too busy could you also explain to everyone what "queer" in America used to mean, before the sexual revolution? I thought it used to mean unusual.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:45 AM on December 3, 2003


How would I know here what the word "Gay" in America meant before the sexual revolution - I live in the UK. That's how clever the intarweb can be, y'know - you can be talikng to some one in a whole 'nother country. Really can challenge your prejudices, in my experience.

I know that, in the UK, as late as 1973 the word gay had ambiguity, but it's attachment to sexuality was becoming widespread. If the dominant straight world had developed a neutral or friendly conversational word which equated to 'homosexual', then maybe that word would have been co-opted. As per usual, the minority did the liberating for themselves.

As it is, I seem to recall that the accepted meaning of 'gay' has deep roots, beginning possibly as much as a century ago. Equally, as I grew up in the 60's & 70's, queer always had a derogatory sense - so 'grubby' or 'filthy' queers is a phrase I'm used to. As a noun, it has long been so: as an adjective, it still does mean 'peculiar' or 'unusual', but is avoided in cases where confusion or offence may take place. In most circles, in this country, anyway.

Anyhow, you don't live in 1973, or 1953. It's 2003. You know that there is meaning attached to context in the use of language.

Your phrase "before the queers got their grubby hands on it"... could you tell us whether, in your opinion, the use of the word 'grubby', is positive, neutral, or negative, in its associations?

Also, "the queers" - do you use that word in such a context with your gay friends?

[NB: I don't see anyone calling you a hate-monger. Are you paranoid?]
posted by dash_slot- at 3:20 AM on December 3, 2003


Feh the history shows some things:

-that sex scares some people (many) ...nuthin new

-that we think we have the sex "issue" under control yet we don't aknowledge it's a natural compulsion that one should learn to handle during and after puberty (in theory) yet some 40+ people barely understand how it works and feels

-that somebody is so proud of kicking a 7 year old immature ego with an useless humiliation because "it's right". Damned sexual repression !
posted by elpapacito at 3:33 AM on December 3, 2003


John: Homer, what have you got against gays?
Homer: You know! It's not... usual. If there was a law, it'd be against it!
Marge: Oh Homer, please! You're embarrassing yourself.
Homer: No I'm not, Marge! They're embarrasing me. They're embarrassing America. They turned the Navy into a floating joke. They ruined all our best names like Bruce, and Lance, and Julian. Those were the toughest names we had! Now they're just, uh...
John: Queer?
Homer: Yeah, and that's another thing! I resent you people using that word. That's our word for making fun of you! We need it!! Well I'm taking back our word, and I'm taking back my son!

-episode 4f11 "Homer's Phobia"
posted by joedan at 4:11 AM on December 3, 2003


The teacher's report comment - "Markus decided to tell another child in his group that his mother is gay. He told the other child that gay is when a girl likes a girl. This kind of discussion is not acceptable in my room. I feel that parents should explain things of this nature to their own children in their own way."

Translated - I believe that homosexuality is wrong. Parents who view homosexuality in a negative light, should be able to indoctrinate their children against homosexuals and homosexuality, and these children should have no input from real-world situations positive or accepting of homosexuality. I will abuse my authority to further my beliefs.

I say sack the homophobic cow.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:28 AM on December 3, 2003


Either... The teacher is a moron, or the teacher is homophobic, or the teacher did this as some sort of petty attack on school policy. Either way, the only person who seems to have lost out on this is a SEVEN year old boy who rightly thought his parents were normal, and has been punished for it.

I can't even begin to talk about how wrong & how disgusting this is.

But I just want to repeat this... The boy was SEVEN years old. He probably still believes in Santa, and his school has told him that there is something bad about the two people he loves the most.

Sickening.
posted by seanyboy at 5:03 AM on December 3, 2003


now he's practically *certain* to grow up a lesbian.
posted by quonsar at 5:12 AM on December 3, 2003


As it happens, Keyser Soze, 'gay' in reference to homosexuality was around long before you were born. It may not have been used in heterosexual conversation, but then, nothing related to homosexuality was.

You can appropriate language just as often or as easily as any lesbian, gay man, or transgendered person, but trying to prevent others from doing so puts you in the same camp as the teacher.
posted by divrsional at 5:19 AM on December 3, 2003


My parents moved my family from Thibadeaux, Louisiana in 1978 when they were at a PTA meeting and the principal was asked a question by a parent. His answer was, and I really do quote him here, "Hmmm, don't make me no nevermind."

I was born and raised in South Lousiana and I can tell you that I have heard this sentence before.
posted by nath at 5:23 AM on December 3, 2003


The part I find really chilling about this story is the concept of the "behavior clinic" for 7-year-olds. The phrase is reminiscent of "reeducation camp". Can anyone explain how that works? What do they enforce, and how do they enforce it? And would you be in favor of that kind of authoritarian approach if the kid had used "gay" as an insult?
posted by fuzz at 5:23 AM on December 3, 2003


Oh my God! Language changes over time? Quick, someone tell the OED!

Let's be clear about this, he's not actually being punished for using the word "gay". If he had said, like someone else on this thread, "you're so gay!" I have no doubt that the teacher wouldn't have batted an eye. He's being punished for defining the term gay in terms that are not negative. The teacher objected to a seven year old expanding the horizons of other seven year olds, telling them about the existance of gay people, thereby removing their parents' ability to keep this reality from their children.

I'm all about schools that prevent their students from learning, yo. God bless America.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:57 AM on December 3, 2003


Word.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:03 AM on December 3, 2003


Couple of points:

1. I fear that this incident will be spun in such a way, by social conservatives, that it will be offered as a story of why "gay rights" are bad. It will go something like this: "See what happens when you let them have children - those children are behavior problems, bringing their parents' sickness into the schools, corrupting their classmates . . ." yadda yadda. Mark my words - look in the conservative rants about the "gay agenda" a year from now, and this story will be included as proof positive.

2. Above, there was a discussion about the 2nd grader's poor spelling. Kindall said, "You're joking, right? The kid's in second grade. Expecting a kid that age to spell everything, or even most things, right is unrealistic. After all, he's only been doing it two years."

But if it is true that he's only been doing it two years, then there's the crux of the spelling problem. The kid should have basic spelling down well before going to first grade. Parents should teach their kids basic reading before they enter school. It's what has worked for decades, folks. Worked for me. And it is the only way to protect your kids from that educational abomination called "whole word" learning.
posted by yesster at 6:14 AM on December 3, 2003


Parents should teach their kids basic reading before they enter school. It's what has worked for decades, folks.

When did that happen? Growing up in NYC in the early 70s, I was the only kid who could read "dog" and "cat" in my kindergarden class.
posted by fuzz at 6:27 AM on December 3, 2003


So it worked for you. Thank your parents.
posted by yesster at 6:29 AM on December 3, 2003


The local paper reports that the school superintendent is essentially going into full "media relations" mode, denying everything while being very careful not to be seen as attacking the teacher, or the kid. Apparently some level of sophistication has reached Lafayette, though they still have a long way to go in treating every student with dignity and respect.
posted by pomegranate at 6:58 AM on December 3, 2003


Teacher is a homophobe. Should be reprimanded, if only for her incredible insensitivity to Marcus' situation: he was always going to face jibes in later school life for having two moms, she's just brought the bullying forward a few years. As others have said, she's a homophobe. And as such, shouldn't be passing her views on to her charges.

One thing is really puzzling me, though: what is/are riyses? His spelling is shocking, but at least I can recognise the other words. This one is a complete mystery.
posted by jack_mo at 7:04 AM on December 3, 2003


riyses = recess, I believe.
posted by tdismukes at 7:08 AM on December 3, 2003


Yesster: So how come the Swedes; who don't start school until they're 7 and possibly don't start reading until much later, have the best Reading Literacy standards in the world.
Plus - In the UK, we teach using the "Whole word" reading method, and it works fine.

[ /derail]
posted by seanyboy at 7:12 AM on December 3, 2003


riyses = recess, I think.

Also, I'd point out that if they're going to make him write any phrase over and over, from a pure education standpoint they should have provided him with a model to copy. Doing it in this way will simply reinforce the incorrect phonetic guess-spelling.

The kid should have basic spelling down well before going to first grade. Parents should teach their kids basic reading before they enter school. It's what has worked for decades, folks. Worked for me. And it is the only way to protect your kids from that educational abomination called "whole word" learning.

Few children have the motor skills prior to the age of 5 or 6 to write comfortably. Yes, certainly parents should read to their kids and encourage kids to read for themselves, but phonics (which is what I presume you're promoting here) doesn't work for every student. In fact, no one technique for teaching reading and writing works for all students. You apparently learned to read early because your parents taught you to sound out words. I learned to read at a high level early (pre-k) because my mother taught me to recognize whole words and to make sense of entire sentences even if I didn't understand one word in the sentence.

Its actually the teaching of phonetics, combined with a non-standard spoken dialect (I'd wager) that produces spellings like the one you see above.
posted by anastasiav at 7:23 AM on December 3, 2003


I wonder if the teacher would have also reprimanded the boy if she heard him explaining the term blowjob

I imagine she would have, but this boy wasn't defining gay sex. He was defining gay, and his definition was "when a girl likes another girl". The equivalent would have been if he'd defined marriage for someone, say as "when a boy and a girl like each other forever". Is it even possible to conceive of a case where that could be punishable?
posted by mdn at 7:23 AM on December 3, 2003


Ah, recess! Thanks tdismukes.

Should've got that, but I suppose I pronounce it very differently to a resident of Louisiana: read like an approximation of rises to me, so I though it must be some arcane Americanism. Er, which it is. He'd've written braeke-tyme in the UK...

And apologies for the continued spelling derail, but whole word method or no, around 100, 000 children leave compulsory education in the UK illiterate, and it's a class problem more than one of educational technique, with research suggesting that kids from poorer backgrounds need extra teaching to catch up with the advantages their middle-class classmates have by being taught to read by well-educated parents at home.
posted by jack_mo at 7:26 AM on December 3, 2003


I won't discuss it further, since it is tangential to the topic, but here's something worth considering: John Taylor Gatto on the decline in literacy in the US
posted by yesster at 7:28 AM on December 3, 2003


What mdn said. Among others.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:25 AM on December 3, 2003


What mdn said indeed, and note that the superintendent is now spinning it as "Of course [... h]e can’t be disciplined for using the term ‘gay,’ ... [H]e could be disciplined for describing bedroom antics, something that was personal, that took place at home.”

Which is not what appears to have happened.
posted by nickmark at 8:58 AM on December 3, 2003


The kid should have basic spelling down well before going to first grade. Parents should teach their kids basic reading before they enter school.

Writing's much harder to master than reading, just as speaking a language is much harder than understanding it. I think he's doing good to be writing in complete sentences.
posted by kindall at 8:59 AM on December 3, 2003


Those in a kerfuffle re: my suggestion that the teacher may not have known the parents were gay: you need to shift your mind a step to the left. If you had *absolutely no idea* that his parents were gay, he would have seemed to be stirring up shit with students, describing sexual situations that really don't have a place in the classroom.

But that's all moot: from later news articles, it appears that the school may have been aware of his parent's lesbian relationship. Which then makes the school's hysterics over this exceedingly minor incident just stupid beyond words.

"I think he's doing good..." Heh.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2003


he would have seemed to be stirring up shit with students, describing sexual situations that really don't have a place in the classroom.

Where, fff? Where did the 7 year old say anything age inappropriate, or sexual?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:50 AM on December 3, 2003


Assuming this teacher and administrator are jackasses of the same order that embrace "zero tolerance", I would guess that homophobia is probably #3 on their list behind #1 Money, and #2 Cover Yer Ass.

That is, first and foremost, will anything done today result in our losing State education funds *in any way*?

Second, is this going to make the parents mad at me, the Superintendent mad at me, the other teachers mad at me, the school board mad at me, the State board of Education mad at me, or anybody else who could make my life a burden and a mis'rey?

Actually, since about 98% of everything administrators, and by devolution, teachers do, involves these first two things, homophobia could just be lumped in with the thousand other neurosis that such defectives exhibit.
posted by kablam at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2003


Superintendent James Easton told The (Lafayette) Advertiser on Tuesday that Marcus should not be punished for using the term "gay," but said, "he could be disciplined for describing bedroom antics, something that was personal, that took place at home." Easton said Marcus was sent to a behavioral clinic a week after the "gay" incident because he was disrupting the classroom and not completing an assignment. However, the Nov. 17 date for "behavior clinic" was on the behavior report signed Nov. 11.

There seems to be no evidence in the public domain to support this, and nor is there anything on the documents sent to mom, and released by the ACLU. I think they're plain lying now. Even the local rag is spinning news against them. Expect apologies or disciplinaries, if not resignations and sackings.

That'll learn 'em!!
posted by dash_slot- at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2003


here ya go, dash: :)
posted by item at 10:46 AM on December 3, 2003


Fine, dash, have it your way. It is utterly impossible for the teacher to have misheard or misinterpreted what was being said, for it is perfectly normal to overhear one's students talking about hot lesbian one-on-one action. How very foolish of me to think for a moment that there may be a not-evil explanation. It is now obvious to me that the teacher and principal are malevolent, nasty people who delight in abusing small, innocent children, and must therefore be punished, cast into the fiery hell-pits of a gay orgy.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 AM on December 3, 2003


I note that you do not seem able to provide the evidence to support your increasingly outlandish statements, such as the 7-year old "describing sexual situations" and his "talking about hot lesbian one-on-one action". Not even the school staff are saying that!

I don't get it - you describe the schools reaction as "hysterics over this exceedingly minor incident just stupid beyond words"...Then you go looking more and more out on a limb: making stuff up, backing down, then ... making it up again. Stylish. But confusing.

I really hope that there is a 'not evil' explanation for punishing the boy, sending him to behaviour clinic and singling him out as the only one in school who may not use a word that accurately describes his mom.

What might it be?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2003


Thx, item! (",)
posted by dash_slot- at 11:58 AM on December 3, 2003


Support my increasingly outlandish statements? Why on earth should I? I started out merely suggesting that if the teacher didn't know of his parents' status, what was heard may well have seemed inappropriate and inflammatory. Apparently this is not an acceptable suggestion. So I capitulate, wholeheartedly and beyond compare. You should be happy.

I wonder if teachers float like ducks.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:07 PM on December 3, 2003


Yeah, ok.

Night night.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2003


In the UK, we teach using the "Whole word" reading method, and it works fine.
In Australia, we used to use this method, but it turns out that it does not work for almost all children and was quietly abandoned a few years ago. I am eternally grateful for the teacher that my eldest daughter had for two years in a row at the height of this stupidity when teachers were banned from teaching grammar, who defied the ban and risked her job by teaching grammar to her students as well as "whole word".

There is no evidence for it, but I suspect that the teacher heard what the student said and, because she was so narrow-minded as to believe that there was no other facet to a lesbian relationship (too much time at porn sites, maybe?), assumed that "hot lesbian one-on-one action" was the topic. Ignorance in those who we charge with the educating our children is a sad thing.
posted by dg at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2003


The "whole word" method is, I think, the major reason why many people nearly break down trying to pronounce my name or, indeed, any normal combination of English letters that they haven't seen before.

On the original topic, however, obviously the teacher acted in a majorly wrong way. I don't know whether it was a case of homophobia or just a case of idiocy. Who knows, she may have received a list of "banned words" at some in-service and was probably trying to stick strictly to that -- which is what happens when people, lacking a foundation or consensus as to what is acceptable behavior, stick to rule-mongering.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:12 PM on December 3, 2003


Hildegarde, that was a great comment.


"That's how clever the intarweb can be, y'know - you can be talikng to some one in a whole 'nother country."

Hmm. I guess this school was located in liverpool and the BCLU was representing the case. Moron.
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:49 PM on December 3, 2003


It is now obvious to me that the teacher and principal are malevolent, nasty people who delight in abusing small, innocent children, and must therefore be punished, cast into the fiery hell-pits of a gay orgy.

FFF, the whole point is that the teacher was closed-minded and stupid, not evil. Stop for a moment (read the link, for example) and think how incredibly, tragically idiotic it is to construe "when a girl likes another girl" as something unspeakably obscene. Obviously nobody's saying she was trying to make the world worse, but she nevertheless did.

(Anyway. I learned with Whole Word.)
posted by Tlogmer at 1:46 AM on December 4, 2003


The whole point is that there may have been a reasonable explanation for the incident, such as misunderstanding what she heard and not knowing that he was saying something truthful, for which suggestion I've had nothing but unreasonable responses. So I give up. You are right, the teacher was deliberately malicious and should be lynched. I'll hold the rope. Okay?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 AM on December 4, 2003


Except, fff, that explanation doesn't fit the facts. Even if that was what happened, there was ample opportunity for the teacher, the assistant principal, and the mother to clear things up. The administration, it's pretty clear, was aware of the child's home arrangements. And if they weren't, they had several weeks before the ACLU showed up to figure things out. The mother says she tried to meet with the assistant principal, but he didn't show. And even in a scenario like the one you describe, the administration's steadfast refusal to say, "Oh, wow -- the teacher misheard things, Marcus wasn't being inappropriate, we're really sorry about this whole thing" points to (at a minimum) pretty bad faith on their part.
posted by nickmark at 10:17 AM on December 4, 2003


For sure. As more information became available, it has become clear that the school screwed up and continues to screw up.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on December 4, 2003


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