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I recently read the “Michigan ‘not listening’ to bullied kids” article in the Nov. 10 edition. While I wish to emphasize that I am not denying or belittling the Tripp Family’s experience, I would like to point out that Plymouth-Canton Schools have taken steps related to the rights of LGBT students.
I recently inherited the sponsorship of the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park’s (PCEP) Gay-Straight Alliance. The organization is composed of students of varying sexual orientation who are all committed to creating an environment where students feel comfortable and welcomed. The foundational strength of the organization rests on three beliefs.
The first is that students can often be the most effective in convincing others to become more accepting of those whose sexual orientation varies from the mainstream. Through their membership in the organization, they feel supported when they model accepting behavior or speak out against those who exhibit intolerance. We have discussed effective ways to respond to insensitivity, and projects such as creating posters that support inclusion have also helped our cause.
Second, the organization provides a place where students can feel comfortable in expressing their concerns and experiences regarding their sexual orientation. Other students can offer support and suggestions to those who feel overwhelmed or injured by their experiences.
Third, as moderator, I can act as a liaison between students and staff/administration so those who feel uncomfortable in citing inappropriate behaviors can do so without fear of retribution.
Just recently, I witnessed the dynamics of our organization as it responded to an incident brought to us by a member who had a hate message placed on her locker. The group let her know that they supported her and gave her tips on getting through the next few days. Next they talked about what strategies they could adopt if they were faced with similar situations in school. Then, I informed other staff of the incident, and the response I received was impressive and moving. This included messages from administrators and the School Resource Officer of the Canton Police Department. The latter forwarded my e-mail to her superior who later e-mailed me what steps I could take in similar situations.
I appreciate any effort to reduce and eliminate the bullying of any child at any school, and fully understand that many districts have a long way to go in even admitting to a problem. I did want our efforts at Plymouth-Canton to be recognized.
Teacher, Plymouth High School
Plymouth-Canton Community Schools