Friday, June 10, 2011

Talking Point #4: Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools by Elizabeth J. Meyer – Questions


 After reading Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools by Elizabeth Meyer, it was interesting to finally get a perspective from a teacher’s point of view, rather than the author just disagreeing with today’s education. I felt that I could relate to numerous things in this article that I deal with on a daily basis, especially how to interfere in certain bullying situations, as well as the relationship that teachers have with the administration.

In this article, Meyer’s discusses how “educators experience a combination of external and internal influences that act as either barriers or motivators for intervention” when dealing with gendered harassment. Gendered harassment could include sexual or homophobic harassment, or harassment for gender non-conformity.  Influences such as lack of support from the administration or colleagues, teachers feeling overwhelmed with more “important” issues, or just lack of knowledge about how to handle the situation, are all reasons that a teacher may decide not to interfere with the verbal abuse. Also, an individual teacher’s perception and feeling towards gender harassment may influence his or her decision to interfere as well.

As a practitioner, I feel that teachers are unaware of just how serious this type of harassment can be and how students most likely deal with it on a daily basis. On the contrary, I also have been put in situations where I have ignored one student’s comment to another because I was overwhelmed with curriculum or felt like I would not receive the right amount of support from the administration at my school. I feel like the administration at my school focuses too much on keeping students safe “physically” and preventing fights, rather than name-calling and verbal harassment.

While reading this article, there were several questions that I felt would be great discussion questions for class and could even be presented to school facilities in order diminish the amount of gendered harassment that is occurring in our schools today:

1. In what ways can school administration, teachers, parents, and students work together in order to reduce gendered harassment in secondary schools?

2. In Meyer’s article, various barriers and motivators were discussed that would influence a teacher from interfering during a gendered harassment situation with students. When was a time that you (as a practitioner) felt as though a barrier or motivator influenced you while one of your students were being harassed? Did you still intervene the situation?

3. Meyer’s research shows that “sexual and homophobic harassment are accepted parts of school culture where faculty and staff rarely or never intervene to stop this harassment.” Do you think this is the case at your school? How can this be prevented?

4. In what ways can teachers/administrators be trained to efficiently handle issues of verbal harassment in schools?

5. Page 11 of Meyer’s article discusses an administrator who was “a real jock and the real ‘man’s man’” and tells about how he intervenes with a student’s problem. In what ways do you think the image of certain teachers and administrators affects how they intervene in gendered harassment situations with students? How would a white heterosexual male teacher intervene differently than a homosexual female teacher?


  1. I agree that different personalities, races, religions, sexual orientations, and genders among teachers greatly influence the way we address bullying situations in our classrooms. We are going to be more sensitive to certain types of bullying if we have had our own personal experiences with them and can relate better to what that student is going through.

  2. Hi Alison,
    Great blog.We have to find a way to stop bullying in schools, no matter what kind of experience or personality teachers have-this is a serious issue that is taking tragic proportions in the victims' lives. Great questions to discuss in class.