Sunday, June 12, 2011

Talking Points #4: Meyer, "Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools: Understanding teachers' (non) interventions"

Dr. Elizabeth Meyer in her article "Gendered harassment in secondary schools: Understanding teachers' (non) interventions," she argues that there is a great deal of harassment and bullying going on in schools dealing with gendered harassment.  She defines gendered harassment as any behavior, verbal, physical, or psychological, that polices the boundaries of traditional heterosexual gender norms and includes (hetero)sexual harassment, homophobic harassment, and harassment for gender non-conformity.  She gives the common examples of name-calling, jokes, gestures as well as physical and sexual assaults that are sexist, homophobic or transphobic in nature. 
Meyer also argues that reasons that teachers at times do not intervene to such harassment are due to external influences and social influences.  Meyer states that the external influences consist of: administrative structures and responses, provincial curriculum demands and teacher workloads, teacher education and training, and written policies.  Meyer states that the social influences consist of: perceptions of administration, interpersonal relationships, and community values.
I feel that the blame is pointed at the teachers for increase in gender harassment.  I am posing a few questions for us as teachers to reflect on in addition to questions to those blaming the teachers to reflect upon.

1.      It is very clear that bullying and harassment is on the rise.  As teachers, many times we are up against a wall if our administrators do not support our decisions to take action against someone who is bullying or harassing another student.  At times, (and not always) administrators are hesitant to make a bold move to make a change or at least set an example with as to what severe disciplinary actions may and possibly should be taken because they are afraid of having parents disagree with the decision made and not wanting to draw negative attention to the school.  How can we as teachers take a stand and make a change without going over our supervisors’ heads and getting in trouble for sticking up for what we believe in?
2.      How do you feel the bullies should be dealt with?  What do you think is a reasonable consequence for the students that are responsible for harassing other students?
3.      How would you approach a parent of a child who is being bullied or harassed if the administrator doesn’t feel it is necessary to draw attention to the situation just yet?  How are you going to protect your students as a preventative?
4.      How can you incorporate some of GLSEM’s lessons into your teaching to help prevent some of this gender harassment and teach understanding and acceptance in your classroom?
5.      I think this final question is probably the most difficult to answer.  This question I think will help us get to the “what now.”  Why do you think there is such an increase in gender harassment and what can we do to change it?

Just wanted to warn you this You Tube vidio is very powerful and emotional!


  1. Your blogs are so visually pleasing. I like the combination of text, visuals, and videos.

  2. I was amazed when I read this article. The questions you posed are really tough to answers but as educators I thinks that we should answer them. The anti-bully website is great to use in a classroom!