Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Teacher suspended over racial/gay slur lecture!!!
When you try to teach children how words have power, it doesn't always be safe issue to try to teach about. This is what brought my attention to Nashville,TN. A Metro Nashville middle school teacher with a long history of opposing gay bias was suspended without pay for asking a black student how she would feel if he called her by a racial slur.
Stephen Henry, a sixth-grade teacher at Creswell Arts Magnet School and the newly elected vice president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, probably will serve his three-day unpaid suspension near the start of the 2007-08 school year, according to school officials.The 21-year teaching veteran was placed on administrative leave May 23, about a week before the end of school. He plans to appeal the decision.
Henry is a professional actor who has won numerous awards as a human rights activist and serves as vice president of the Tennessee Equality Project, a group dedicated to advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
He also is a member of the executive committee for the Metro Nashville Education Association and teaches training courses on safety and gay and lesbian issues.
Last month, Henry overheard a female student, whose name was not released by school officials, describe something as "gay".
Henry, who declined to comment, told school officials he wanted to use the incident as a way to educate students about offensive words."Because it has been my practice all year long to address teachable moments when they present themselves ... I felt compelled to pursue that lesson," Henry wrote in an e-mail to Principal Dorothy Gunn.
"I stated that regardless of what one means, when emotionally-charged words are used, the intent of the speaker is often never heard or understood by those who actually hear the offending words."
"According to other accounts of the May 15 incident, he then asked the student how she would feel if he called her the offensive slur.
The student responded by saying, "How would you feel if I called you a cracker?"
Now did someone call her something? No. She's one of those teens who doesn't like to be corrected. This girl now call mommy. Teens are good for calling parents when they know their wrong. Believe me i try to get my mom on my side whether i'm right or wrong. Anyway here comes mother, Anzora Lee-Starks, the students mom.
"I don't think he meant it to come out the way it did, but I think my daughter was very hurt, and I was very upset about it," she said. "I teach my children not to use that word. I think he made a very poor choice in trying to explain something that is over their heads and using the n-word in the way he did."
Please! Your daughter has a smart-a** mouth. Teens these days are ready to flip-off a adult, especially when their trying to teach them about how words have power.
Lee-Starks said her daughter was bothered because she felt the teacher was using the "what-if" scenario as an excuse to call her the racial slur. Lee-Starks said Henry apologized for the incident, and she felt his apology was sincere. But, she said, she doesn't believe he should have been explaining such a sensitive topic to sixth-graders by using such a racially charged word.
She was bothered? I wonder if she told you she went off, and call the man a cracker. He wasn't trying call her a racial slur, and she knows it. She just doesn't like someone telling he about the words she was using. Stop trying to make excuses. When i was sixth-grade, i knew alot about diverse topics.
"I think he's aware what he said was inappropriate for that age group," she said. "Maybe high school or college you might have that kind of exchange and be able to say the word and it would be a discussion. It wasn't a discussion."
Um ms, that age-group more than ever needs to know about how their words have major effects on other students. The age group for sixth grade is 12-13, their ready. Why do parents act like their children can't comprehend issue that they go through? Adults always underestimate teens.