By the Numbers

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 17 2009

Day 8: “I’m allowed to say ‘fag.’”

While the explosive nature of yesterday did not return today, third period still made for some interesting discussion. We have a pretty good number of gay students and, as is the case in all situations, are sensitive to the rampant homophobic language in the school. However, I took three students in the hallway for their use of fag and ran into an interesting conversation.

It started with “I’m allowed to say ‘fag’” and continued on to things like, “I’m a dyke, so I can say dyke,” and “He’s allowed to say ‘fag.’” I guess there is no way to be prepared for this conversation because I’m standing outside trying to convince gay students that a word that they have “reclaimed” is still inappropriate for them to say it. They agreed that it wasn’t okay for straight people to say it, so I made the argument that if one person can’t say something, then no one should be able to say it. I don’t know if it worked, but I felt like it went somewhere. It was yet another situation where I’m the “majority” that is outnumbered in a given situation.

I got some of the NWEA scores back from my honors juniors. Suffice it to say we only have a handful of kids above average for the nationwide scores. I’d like to compare students I had to the other teachers last year, just to see if I had any success.

One Response

  1. James M.

    “Fag” is not just a homophobic expression! There is a difference between disapproval and fear. If you don’t like spinach because you think it’s nasty, do you require “enlightenment” to triumph over your “vegephobia”? Some people have the sense to realize that certain preferences would inherently lead to the extinction of our species!

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Teaching Math on the West Side of Chicago

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