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Coach Brown

Ok, I'll try and not sound like an ass.

I don't agree with what you did, and not because I don't agree with your cause. However, I think there is a time and place for adults to make their stand. School is were students need to feel safe, and that means trying to be neutral as possible on poitical topics. Now you have a group of students that are against you, while showing another group that you support them.
Tough line to draw, but thats how I feel.
And I'm really not an ass ;)


I have to disagree with Coach Brown. I think what you did was courageous and powerful. I don't think supporting a student-led event is the same as taking a stance on a political issue. And I bet your students respected you more for participating. What an interesting learning experience!


I just hope my kids don't end up getting taught by queers and dyke-lovers such as yourself!


your insights are great. but i am more distracted by the comments made here.
neutrality does not always represent safety.
and if anyone feels threatened, it is the gay or lesbian teen, or any other teen minority, out there vunerable to attack.
you were not teaching lesbian/gay practice, and that is an issue for some people. you were teaching tolerance and respect, regardless of whether or not you agree with the values presented.
why is 'cloning' our belief system a prerequiste for acceptance. that's not virtue, that's comfort.
straight lover of queers and dykes.

your country is outrageous. supposedly based on judeo-christian values you ignore a mandate that distinguishes, in theory, christians from other religions. "love your enemies" (however you define them).


hey hipteacher,
i'm in awe of your courage and determination. i know that gay/lesbian issues are politicized, but i think that you chose to support a group of students (and one student in particular) in addition to a cause. i don't allow slurs of any sort in my classroom because i don't discriminate on which students should feel safe in my classroom. anyway, this isn't the place for my soapbox, rather i wanted to say "you're awesome." i'm betting miguel will always remember your support.
also...very interesting tidbit about the talking. i'll have to try that myself.


I think what you did what perfectly fine. You were being silent for a cause, not screeching at the top of your lungs about how judgemental society can be. It was a respectful way to show your opinion on such a controversial issue.

As much as we'd all like to keep politics and opinions outside of the classroom, it's next to impossible. Students will ask about your opinion on issues because they want to get to know you better. The key to giving your opinion on something is not hiding it, but expressing it tactfully.

Not only are you teaching your students the curriculum, but you're showing students ways to respectfully express their beliefs. In a world where parents expect the teacher to teach manners and respect as well as math and science, this is a lesson more children and young adults need.

I also think it's interesting that you learned something else from the silence ;) I've found that I can get a group of students to pay attention more if I suddenly stop talking, rather than raising my voice. It also keeps you from losing your voice!



I applaud your participation and your reflection on your teaching practice as a result.

Seems like a few of these commenters might want to take a day of silence themselves, however--both from speaking and from the keyboard. Just a thought.


Just wanted to express my support and second d's comment that "neutrality does not always represent safety."

It should not be threatening to any student for a teacher to express her hope that all students will be safe, equal, and treated with respect. If a student does find that threatening, I think it is his/her own responsibility to cope with the discomfort and decide why the idea of equality is so frightening to them.

It usually benefits students to remember that their teachers are human beings with lives that affect their teaching. Also, I was always far more inclined to work hard for a teacher who'd take a stand for his/her students, whether or not I agreed with the reasons for taking said stand.


Hipteacher.. I have to disagree with coach brown and really just shake my head at Sandy..

If one student benefited from your participation in a day of tolerance.. then good on you!

coach says students need to feel safe.. should that comment be followed by the statement "except for the gay ones?" Gay students DO NOT feel safe in a school situation much of the time.. and it is the participation in events such as these that helps others realize that they too should be able to go to school and learn and not be tormented and bullied. which is what happens much of the time.
and well, sadly sandy is just ignorant, and obviously unaware of the Hipteacher..

And the fact that you learned something that will help you be a better teacher is a bonus!
Kudos.. on both counts..


Great post! You've written it wonderfully -- thanks for sharing.

When Pigs Sing

Wow! Fantastic post.Teaching tolerance has its place no matter your profession. I think it's great what you did and I bet kids will respect you for it whether they agree with the cause or not. And great perk about the silence! I discovered that trick quite by accident when I lost my voice.


I just hope I don't ever have to teach Sandy's kids.


The suicide rate amongst gay teenagers is astronomical. The suicide rate amongst teachers who are accused of being gay, when they're not, is also high.

What discrimination does, is dehumanise. It's a form of bullying. How can we expect our students to perform well when we refuse to acknowledge the things that are driving them - according to the statistics - to attempt suicide in worrying numbers?

Whether you support discussing sexuality or not in the classroom, teenagers so traumatised by bullying that they have no hope of learning is an issue for every educator.

As long as we pretend that's not our business, that equality (particularly equality in terms of protection from verbal or physical attack) is the exclusive preserve of some groups and not others, we uphold a system that colludes in teen depression and dropping out.

Therefore, we are silently condoning bullying.

I applaud your actions, hipteacher, and dignity of the style of protest you took. And I hope we're reminded, as teachers, that this is not merely an issue about or for gay students.


"The suicide rate amongst teachers* who are accused of being gay, when they're not, is also high."

* Students!

Fruedian slip.


I'll be honest, your support of the student is valiant, but I struggle slightly with that overt support by a teacher. I am a Christian, though sometimes not a good one, and maybe I am not being a good one here. But hear me out. In our current political landscape, if I as a teacher joined the "Meet you at the Pole" gathering each September in support of students who are Christians--a minority group in schools, I am almost certain I would be castigated by fellow staff, administration, and even district level for violating the current interpretation of separation of church and state.
I wonder, and only you can answer the question, what you would do if Miguel were an evangelical, youth group attending, "Jesus Freak" of a student who contributes wonderfully to your class, would you attend the "Meet you at the Pole?"
I am concerned with the double standard that exists. It is okay to support inclusion and respect of the gay and lesbian lifestyle but not okay to suppor the inclusion and respect of the evangelical Christian.
Now, the truth about me is this, it really does bother me how much the visible Religious Right harps on the gay and lesbian issue. Trust me, I'm not like that. I really do accept everyone to the best of my ability. I guess I just want real fairness. Equality of treatment for the Muslim, the Jew, the Christian, the Atheist, in all the forms they come in.


Andrew -- trust me, whenever people start pushing for constitutional ammendments to deny evangelicals the right to marry one another I'll march right beside you.



You really are missing Andrew's point. Nor, does an event focused on anti-gay bias in school directly address gay marriage. There's no shortage of hatred and bias, and yes, sometimes Christians are judged and treated poorly. While being denied the recognition of marriage is a hardship, so is being as a strong Christian, rather than a hypocrite, in most high schools.

Andrew, I see your point completely, and for similar reasons I feel the same way about spending class time participating in a demonstration that will freak many of my students out. If I am going to get political or morally didactic, I would prefer to do it directly, and take the opportunity to say a few words to the group who will be feel particularly challenged by what I have to say. I'd also try to hear out kids who disagreed, and I always have kids who do and feel comfortable saying so. While I'd like to reinforce what I see as good values, I don't want to become a mindless indoctrinator of any point of view.

I too am Christian, although not a very good one. I try to be mindful of how much affirming of spritual rhetoric that I give my students. I don't want to get up a "yes, and all right minded people feel as we do" kind of vibe going.


A moment of silence for Sandy's poor kids.

I've been a lurker here for a long time, but the time has come to step out from behind the tree and ask if I might add you to my blogroll?


dimbulb, you are assuming that as a Christian I believe it is wrong for homosexuals to marry. I couldn't care less. The sexual or committed relationship of two people in no way influences whether or not I make a good husband. Don't confuse the Religious Right with all of Christianity. The Religious Right is a political organization, not an organization of faith.
But, you've caused me to ponder another issue. Will you march with a student who would like intelligent design taught in Biology class. I've studied both, and in my not so humble opinion, it takes as much faith to believe that I have evolved from some cosmic particle that just existed and erupted into life that continually evolved until human beings were what they are today, as it does to believe in a God, or whatever you call him or her or it, who just existed and created with a purpose all that exists until he decided to make human beings what they are.
So, as long as you march with that student, I will certainly support your offer to march with an evangelical who is denied the right to marry, or a homosexual for that matter.


I have no idea what anyone's stand on gay marriage is. I was merely pointing out that I see little equivalency in the nature and degree of enmity expressed towards evangelicals and gay persons.

I understand that as a Christian within the venue that you may feel silenced in public schools. Although I am a straight, white male I can I can empathize with people who feel as though their identity has been marginalized by the dominant culture. It sucks.

I too have read extensively about the "Intelligent Design" issue. The estimates of the age of the earth by the IE folks seem as ludicrous to me as the "cosmic particle" does to you. We can debate until we are blue in the face and neither one of us is likely to convince the other. I get that you are silenced on this (and many other) issues. I get it. As an evangelical, you're obligated to spread what you believe to be the gospel. I get that too. It must be an uncomfortable position to be in.

If you read the link, the protest wasn't just about speech. It's goal was to " to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment -- in effect, the silencing -- experienced by LGBT students and their allies." Speech was just the hook.

Even though I am a SWM, I can identify with the basic human rights issues experienced by the gay community. People are beaten to death in the streets of my city every year just for being gay. It may happen to evangelicals too, but I haven't heard of a single incident.

Had the protest been about demanding the same amount of time to teach the history of "Stonewall" as "Gettyburg" I don't think I would have as much sympathy.

It's all about Maslow.


Well, I don't know that it's Christians being killed in American cites really, but in other parts of the world it happens. I'm thinking about China, primarily.

And we all know that it happened when Christianity was new.


Well, I don't know that it's Christians being killed in American cites really often, but in other parts of the world it happens.

And we all know that it happened when Christianity was new.


Your experience with silent teaching is fascinating! It is amazing what you can do when you are forced to. I do have to agree with Coach Brown, but only because you now have a group against you. Other than that, I hope to one day haev the joy of teaching a child as bright as Miguel!


You were wrong in your actions. Teachers are not paid to promote ideology one way or another, public school teachers are paid to teach. The "silence day" had nothing to do with the subject that you teach, in essence, by silencing yourself you stole from the taxpayer. Yes, you feel like your lessons got through none the less, but you did not give it your all. You did not free yourself to avail yourself of all your tools to do your job.

What you did do was to force your ideology on those who disagree with you. What you did was to cross the line between teaching your subject and teaching your politics. Don't force your beliefs on others. As for tolerance, we have it, just because we don't want to further harm the family unit by elevating the status of gays - it is a personal (and moral) question; to be sought out and solved by your family and/or church, not by a teacher.

I usually like reading your blog, at this moment, I'm ashamed of your actions.

Expat Nomad


Teaching is one of the most political professions out there. There is no denying how education is a major political institution. We teach the politics of America and the other countries of the world every day in the classroom - its called history. And as the saying goes, history is written by the victor; more precisely - it is written by the people of the victorious culture and includes their ideology and political bias as a result.

In this day and age, people are taking less and less responsibility for their actions and that comes into the classroom. No longer do parents assume that their child is failing because they aren't doing the work but rather because the teacher wasn't changing their curriculum to adapt to the child's needs. I can't even count the number of times when a parent has complained to me that their student is failing and my 1 homework assignment per week was "too much" (note - block schedule and only saw my students 2X per week).

Which gets me to my point. IN LOCO PARENTIS - teachers are to be thought of as parental figures when the student is not in the presence of their parents. Where do morals and social skills get taught if not at home? Society currently states that education of ALL TYPES takes place in a classroom. Education doesn't just come out of a book...

I whole-heartedly disagree with your disapproval of hipteacher's actions but I do acknowledge that we all have the right to disagree with each other. That's what living in a free country is all about - the right to express our opinions whenever and wherever we like.

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