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Number 9

Submitted by on 1, May 18, 2009 – 6:00 am3 Comments

As you may recall from earlier posts, the school board is hosting part two of its public hearing on proposed elementary school lessons to address anti-gay bullying and slurs at 6:30 p.m. today at Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Avenue. So far, School Board President Mike McMahon’s got a list of 101 folks lined up to speak, and both sides are posse-ing up for what I’m sure will be a very, very long evening.

The board is slated to vote on the lessons, which district officials are calling Lesson Nine of their existing Caring Schools Community curriculum, on May 26.

I thought this might be a good time to lay out the lesson plans in brief for you all to check out. For more information, the full lesson plans are available on the district’s website; you can also click the links for more information on books and the Caring Schools Curriculum itself.



Lesson title: “Becoming a Welcoming Classroom”

Purpose: To create a more welcoming classroom; to have students understand what makes them and others feel welcome or unwelcome in school.

Book: “The New Girl … and Me,” by Jacqui Robbins

Vocabulary: Name calling, exclude, hurtful, teasing, different, similar, comfortable

Discussion: Discuss what it feels like to be welcome/unwelcome at school.

Activity: Using the writing prompt, “I can help others feel welcome by…” ask students to respond verbally to this. Have students return to their desks to draw a welcoming picture.

Lesson time: One 45-minute session



Lesson title: “Who’s in a Family”

Purpose: To identify what makes a family; to identify and describe a variety of families; to understand that
families have some similarities and some differences

Book: “Who’s in a Family?” by Robert Skutch

Vocabulary: None

Discussion: Label a piece of chart paper, “What Do We Know About Families?” Ask the class the following questions and record their answers on paper: What do we know about families? Who is in a family? What do family members give or share with each other? What responsibilities do family members have?

Activity: Ask students to draw a picture of their own family.

Lesson time: One class period



Lesson title: “And Tango Makes Three”

Purpose: To be able to identify alternative types of family structures; to be able to understand that all families have similarities in that they love and care for their young.

Book: “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Vocabulary: Caretaker, couple, similar, different

Discussion: Label a piece of chart paper, “What do all parents/caregivers need to do to take care of a baby?”
Prompt students by asking the following questions: What does a baby need to survive and grow? What is the parent’s responsibility in the care of a baby? What do you think makes a baby smile?

Activity: Ask students to draw two pictures, one of (penguins) Roy and Silo and one of their own family. Remind them that all families look different and all are made up of varying structures.

Lesson time: One 45-minute session



Lesson title: “Taking About Families”

Purpose: To develop vocabulary related to family diversity; to create a mobile that represents their own
family; to talk about their own families and to learn about other families; to be able to describe different family structures in a respectful way.

Film: “That’s a Family” and curriculum guide

Vocabulary: Adoptive parents, adopted children, birth mother, birth father, blended family, divorced family, mixed family, foster parent, grandparent family, single parent family, step parent family, guardian, two moms, two dads

Discussion: Discuss with the students that they will be viewing the film “That’s a Family” in which they may see a “mirror” of their own family. Or, like looking through a window, they get a glimpse of the many different types of loving family structures. They will learn that every family is unique, but viable and special.

Activity: Instruct students to create and assemble their own mobiles, decorating a card for each member of their family to string together. They can also make as many cards as they like for the places, things and ideas categories.

Lesson time: Four 30-minute sessions



Lesson title: “Developing Empathy & Being an Ally”

Purpose: Students will be able to identify ways in which name-calling is hurtful. Students will learn the
importance of being an ally in order to interrupt or stop name calling. Students will be able to identify helpful strategies in order to become an ally to another person.

Article: “My School is Accepting – But Things Could Be Better” by Robert (Materials on district website)

Vocabulary: Ally, empathy, name-calling, lesbian, gay, LGBT

Discussion: Students are asked, “What hurts your feelings? What types of name calling have you heard or been a target of out in the playground?” and also, “What does the word empathy mean?” Tell students you are going to read some statements about ways they could be an ally to Robert. When you read each statement they will quietly and individually think which statement most pertains to them.

Activity: Write “name-calling” on one side of the board and “empathy” on the other. Ask students to brainstorm everything they think about when they hear the word name-calling. Help them identify any themes in their list such as: the way name-calling makes someone feel, motives for name-calling, or situations where name-calling might occur. Write the following questions on the board and ask each group to answer them: How do you think Robert feels when he hears people say things like, “this is gay” or “You’re so gay?” Do you have empathy for Robert? Why or why not?

Lesson time: Two 30-40 minute sessions



Lesson title: “Discussing Stereotypes, Including LGBT”

Purpose: To define the word “stereotype”; to learn that LGBT people are represented among all races, genders, religions, socioeconomic classes and professions; to identify stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; to learn that LGBT people have made important contributions within the United States and beyond

Vocabulary: Stereotypes, LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

Discussion/Activity: Write the word stereotype on the board. Ask students to define what the word means. Record their answers on the board or chart paper. Write the word “teenagers” and ask students to brainstorm all of the stereotypes they have heard about teenagers. Pass out the Stereotype diagram. Point out the word
Stereotype in the center and the three blank circles. Ask students to get into groups of three to each add a different stereotype. Ask them to answer the same questions above, inserting their own word.

Write the acronym LGBT. Ask students the meaning of each letter. After ensuring that they are accurate in the definitions, ask students to do the following: Form groups of three students each. Ask each group to brainstorm all the words that come to mind when they think about LGBT people. Ask a member of the group to read aloud their list and post them on the board. Review the whole list.

Share the names on the list of some famous LGBT people without mentioning that these people are also LGBT. Now read the brief biographies of each. Which people were you most surprised to learn were LGBT? What does learning something about these people tell us about stereotypes? (Materials on district website)

“Time to reflect”: We have learned that a stereotype can not only be inaccurate but can be hurtful and unkind. It can make a person or persons feel excluded and unhappy. We all may have different beliefs and a wide range of experiences and opinions regarding LGBT people, but we are now better informed as to how important it is to provide for the safety and well being of each and every person in our lives. Write a short essay on: How have your views about any stereotypes changed?

Lesson time: Two 40-minute sessions


  • Karry Kelley says:

    Thank you for your informative posting. There is a critical need for the curriculum in our schools. Name calling and bullying of children who are perceived to be gay begins as early as kindergarten. To not acknowledge LGBT culture from a child’s early years in school only fosters fear and mistrust as they get older. LGBT children and their families deserve equal treatment and as any other student in the ASUD does.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    As the youngest and smallest boy in my classes, I was the victim of frequent anti-gay slurs in elementary school 45-50 years ago. I vividly recall the pain, anguish, and embarrassment that these taunts caused, and there was no "safe schools" curriculum back then to help end the abuse.

    The words of the LGBT curriculum's usually-well-meaning opponents are re-opening my still-scarred wounds. It did not matter even then that I knew I was straight (as of grade 2), or that I have now been married to a loving different-sex partner for 20 years. "Homo," "fag," and other words are burned into my memory half a century later, even though the words were "technically incorrect" regarding my sexual orientation.

    As a volunteer noon supervisor I saw, heard, and responded to these same anti-gay epithets being hurled between kids in grades K-5 at Franklin School (2003-2006), and can attest that Alameda's kids need this supplemental curriculum to learn mutual respect, tolerance, and inclusion better than we adults have. And teaching civility and anti-bullying awareness to elementary school kids will reduce the instances of hateful speech and abuse in the middle and high school years.

    There is NO excuse for supporting exclusion and intolerance. Hate is not a family value. Verbal insults and bullying are un-Christian. "Love one another as I have loved you…"

    It is long past time to protect every child and every familyfrom abuse and bullying in our public schools, be it from race, creed, religion, gender, disability, or perceived sexual orientation. Support the supplemental "safe schools" curriculum.

  • Common sense please says:

    What? – Nonsense!

    "Name calling and bullying of children who are perceived to be gay begins as early as kindergarten."

    Little kids may parrot words they don't understand, but no one in those early grades has a sexual orientation yet, so they are not "gay". If other kindergartners actually are perceiving their classmates as "gay" they have clearly been taught words and concepts they are too young to understand.

    Maybe some kids know the traditional meaning of the word "gay", and are using it with the correct definition.

    "LGBT children and their families deserve equal treatment and as any other student in the ASUD does."

    -I agree, everyone should keep their own set of personal social mores to themselves, and like fundamental Christianity, or Moslem family values, or Mormon family values, – Please keep personal values out of public school, especially in the elementary level where kids have so little life experience, and so much reliance on their teachers, that this proposed curricula is too much like brainwashing like a set of fundamental Christian doctrine lessons would be. We need responsible public education at appropriate age levels. Before this is taught to our littlest kids we need to teach adults about respecting the constitutional rights of others. Hopefully those in chare of making the decision have at least a little understanding of what our Constitution means for all people. My rights don't nullify your rights and vice versa.

    AUSD cannot afford this battle; we have to start with a committee representative of the whole community to find satisfactory middle ground

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