Author: Steven Solomon
Illustrator: Nick Johnson
Age: 9 and up
Grades: 4th – 8th
GLSEN’s ThinkB4YouSpeak Guide forEducators of Grades 6-12
Final activity: Assign each small group one of the quiz questions from ‘The Witness’ on pages 28-31. Ask them to work together to come up with possible actions to the scenarios they were assigned and share back with the class after 10-15 minutes. Have students brainstorm together ways to support the safety and well-being of LGBTQi students.
Steven Solomon’s book, Homophobia: Deal with it and turn prejudice into pride is illustrated in a comic book style, by illustrator Nick Johnson. Solomon has organized this book into a series of illustrated scenarios, quizzes, myth busters, faux – advice column questions and answers, and 'do’s' and 'don’ts' for tweens and teens to help them understand what homophobia is and isn’t. This book introduces true-to-life student scenarios where homophobic language, stereotypes, slurs, myths, and bullying occur, and helps students understand how to unpack these incidents, interrupt them in their community, and work as allies to LGB students.
Element 6 – Taking Social Action:
With this book, Solomon gives students specific information, practice scenarios, and actionable responses so that they can combat homophobic attitudes and incidents, and take action against homophobia in their school communities and homes. The style and language of this book are designed to feel authentic to adolescents and provide many scenarios for classroom discussion about homophobia and how to be an ally to LGB people.
Educators can use this text to increase their students’ awareness of homophobia (what it is and isn’t) and to provide scenarios that prepare students about how to take action and interrupt homophobia and be an ally to LGB people. The examples of how to interrupt homophobia provided in this book are meaningful, actionable, and accessible. This book can be used by educators to help prepare students on how to become an upstander instead of a bystander and to take social action in order to create safer communities for LGB people. After reading this book students will have the information necessary to feel more confident taking social action on an ongoing basis in their halls and homes against homophobia.
Activities: Educators who have introduced LGBTQI information in their classes previously will find this book helpful in continuing the conversation with their students. It is important that students have been introduced to positive information about LGBTQI individuals and families in order for students entering this next stage to be prepared to disrupt and combat homophobia.
These activities are designed to be used consecutively in order to build on students' evolving understanding of these issues. They can be used together in a single day or over many.
Before the lesson type up the ‘Homophobia 101’ examples on pages 4 and 5 of the book. Cut out each example and place each of them folded up in a bowl.
Introducing homophobia and heterosexism: Ask students to take a minute and reflect and write down what they think homophobia and heterosexism are and ask them to write down any examples they can think of. After five minutes ask the students to stop.
Pass the bowl of ‘Homophobia 101’ examples around and ask students (to without looking at them) to take one. Have students read each example, one at a time, aloud to the class. Ask the class if they think what was read was or wasn’t homophobia and why. Talk about what makes each one homophobic or not.
On the overhead projector show the stereotype questions on page 6 and 7. Do a class read-aloud and discuss what makes each of these stereotypes.
Next break into small groups of 2-4 and give each student one of the questions (not the answers) posed to ‘Dear Conflict Counselor’ on pages 10 and 11. Students should turn and talk about how to respond to the writer’s question. After 10 minutes bring the groups together and have them present both the question they considered and their group’s response. Share the responses provided in the book and talk about how they compare to the ones students came up with.
Ask students to think about any myths that they can think of about their own culture. Ask students to think about how those myths make them feel. Next using the overhead projector share the ‘Homophobia 101 – Myths’ about gay and lesbian people presented on page12 and 13.
Ask students if they can think of any other characteristics of gay and lesbian people that they’ve heard about besides the ones shown. Open it up to the class to discuss if these things they’ve heard are myths or not.
Introduce ‘The Homophobe’ and ‘The Witness’ on pages 24-27. Discuss how to be an upstander in relation to ‘The Witness’.
Following this discussion have students do the following Barnyard activity from Kaleidoscope Youth Center: http://www.kycohio.org/uploads/1/3/3/7/13374330/barnyard.pdf
Add a twist: When you go around assigning animals quietly ask one student to step out of the circle and don’t assign them an animal, they should remain outside the circle but with their eyes closed. Once most people have found their other barnyard animal groups, quietly ask the student to return to the circle and then assign them a bird sound. Now the other bird will have a partner.
Use the discussion questions included with the activity (see the above link).
Incorporating the twist: Ask the first bird, “When you realized you were the only bird, how did it make you feel”? Follow up with, “How did you feel when you finally heard another bird”? Ask the student that wasn’t assigned an animal sound until mid-activity, “How did it feel to not be included in the activity”?
As part of the discussion surrounding this activity talk with students about the importance of marginalized students feeling included and having allies. Focus on the information provided from pages 24-27 as it relates to students’ responses to the activity.