What is needed are interventions that understand the problem of LGBTQ bullying as rooted in cultural values, not in individual "bad" children, and that see schools as sites where traditional genders and heterosexuality are valued, rewarded, and given positions of power and prestige.
This piece took me well over a year and a half to write, and was one of the most challenging experiences of my career, finally taking shape as a fictional "a day in the life" examination of (some of) the chaos and dysfunction of one of the more challenging NYC public schools.
While all eyes have been focused on the "stop and frisk" debate in New York, hardly any attention has been paid to the rewriting of school discipline procedures. When it comes to anti-social behavior, zero tolerance is out and therapeutic intervention is in.
Simple strategies, such as the use of restorative circles in classrooms, provide opportunity for students to communicate with their peers and teachers about feelings and concerns, reducing the anxiety and misunderstanding that produce tension and conflict in schools.
Prevention is so much more important than predicting risk. In the wake of recent school tragedies and a resonating fear in schools, these key tips are invaluable for both teachers and administrators alike, as well as for parents.
Despite the loud voice of the National Rifle Association (NRA), scholars, experts on school safety, and teachers overwhelmingly disagree with turning schools into armed camps rather than places of nonviolent positive learning.
If we are to evaluate our success as a nation based, at least in part, by our children's well-being, we ought to pay closer attention to what ails them emotionally, and to create a safe environment at home, at school and in the community they depend on to thrive.
Arne Duncan said that the proposal on gun control had created one of his proudest moments while serving in this administration. Curbing school violence, he told us, is among his top priorities for the next four years. Somehow I think it's doubtful that these are the kinds of efforts he has in mind.
I worry whether our well meaning desire to combat bullying could lead to an even bigger problem by branding children who misbehave as criminals instead of using other methods to create a more civil and compassionate environment for our children.