29
   

Noise in my head threatening to cause rupture

 
 
snood
 
Reply Thu 14 Oct, 2010 10:18 pm
this is a journal entry I intended to write at first just to myself, but I tell youse knuckleheads everything else, so...


I’m writing now because I feel like circumstances are such that I will sooner or later be faced with the kind of deep set dilemma that could cause me to act out emotionally in some way, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my chances to be successful as a counselor. I’m talking about a kind of cognitive (and maybe even emotional) dissonance that comes from benignly participating in something that I know in my bones to be wrong.

In the national news, gay people have been killing themselves as the result of being harassed and bullied. In the junior high school in which I am an intern counselor, several boys I know of are being mercilessly teased and harassed because of being gay or being accused of being gay. At the same time this is going on, the school administration – the principal, assistant principal and counselor – are attempting to mount a sort of anti-bullying initiative… partially because October is “anti-bullying month” and partially because the reality of the issue has become too obvious to act as if everything is hunky-dory. That should be good on its surface, one would think, and it is good, to the extent that no bullying is acceptable. But there is something clearly wrong to me about how those paying lip service to fighting bullying insist on sexual orientation being unmentioned in the whole initiative against bullying.

If race were a blatant factor in the harassment; if it were almost any other identifiable ‘difference’ that was being targeted, I think there would be a direct response to it. But we can’t – oh god no – talk about anyone being tormented because they are gay.
Somewhere inside of me, that seems unacceptable and cowardly.
Today I actually sat and listened – incredulous – as the principal and counselor blamed some of the victims during a powwow with the counselors . They said things like “He acts so flamboyantly, what does he expect?” and “He’s a bit dramatic – he is just exaggerating the problem for attention!” It was so classic it seemed like part of some 'B' movie from THIRTY YEARS AGO.

If these boys (or girls) are getting regularly tormented because of a sexual orientation they cannot help and did not choose, and we don’t directly confront it for exactly what it is, it is my opinion that we are participating in an evil for which there is no excuse.

The ugly unspoken truth is that here in (Leesville, LA.)the ‘bible belt’ of the USA, homosexuality is viewed by many (who happen to wield authority and power) as a choice that individuals make to do wrong, and so almost by definition they deserve whatever suffering they get. That’s the unspoken belief that rules the day. That is why I spent hours and days preparing presentations about bullying that cannot mention bullying that occurs because someone is gay or accused of being gay.

And that is why I felt I had to at least write this down before it burst through my head and made a hole out of which my poor little mind might start to seep.

 
laughoutlood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Oct, 2010 10:40 pm
@snood,
try to get as much community involvement as possible snood

it may take quite some time
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  3  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 05:27 am
@snood,
This is one of the best posts I have ever seen on A2K, snood.

It is a very relevant issue and you are actually working in the environment where the issue occurs.
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 05:42 am
You can't mention "the gay?" Grrr! I'm hoping that is fairly localized and not something going on outside of LA, or the Bible Belt. Not sure how our district handles it.

I wonder if it is being handled this way because it is specifically related to sex. You know, that private stuff we aren't supposed to talk about in public, or acknowledge as being a natural part of life no matter ones orientation. Some adults just don't find sex to be a comfortable topic in any context, and the Bible Belt seems to be even more uncomfortable with it than elsewhere in this country.

Anyway, I'm glad you got that said and did so where we could discuss it. Are you still in training and not employed by the school? Just wondering why you felt you couldn't say anything, especially regarding pointing out their own prejudices.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 05:59 am
@snood,
snood wrote:
... If these boys (or girls) are getting regularly tormented because of a sexual orientation they cannot help and did not choose, and we don’t directly confront it for exactly what it is, it is my opinion that we are participating in an evil for which there is no excuse...


Amen.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:01 am
@snood,
Snood
The fundamental problem is that people are being harrassed because they don't conform to the norm. Trying to deal with it without including that aspect of it has the reverse effect, since it entrenches the norms that create the problem in the first place.
The issue is intolerance, and should be treated as such. If you cannot say publicly that they are being harrassed because they are gay, the very guidelines you look to for a solution are part of the problem.
In my opinion of course.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:02 am
@squinney,
squinney wrote:

You can't mention "the gay?" Grrr! I'm hoping that is fairly localized and not something going on outside of LA, or the Bible Belt. Not sure how our district handles it.

I wonder if it is being handled this way because it is specifically related to sex. You know, that private stuff we aren't supposed to talk about in public, or acknowledge as being a natural part of life no matter ones orientation. Some adults just don't find sex to be a comfortable topic in any context, and the Bible Belt seems to be even more uncomfortable with it than elsewhere in this country.

Anyway, I'm glad you got that said and did so where we could discuss it. Are you still in training and not employed by the school? Just wondering why you felt you couldn't say anything, especially regarding pointing out their own prejudices.


Pointing them out? Squinney you don't understand - I ain't even supposed to NOTICE 'em, evidently! They got visibly agitated when I gently raised the question if maybe if gayness (somehow that doesn't feel like a real word, but anyway) is being attacked, then gayness attacks ought to be addressed.

I won't complete all my training and internship until May. I graduate with my Masters May 6, 2011 (if the creek don't rise and the Good Lord willing).

When she saw my expression of befuddlement, the principal went on to further educate me as to where I actually reside. This Parish (which are the equivalent of 'counties' in other states) has outlawed all sex education, and they still allow paddling - corporal punishment with a large heavy piece of lumber.

When Cheryl and I first came to loos-ee-ana we had the eerie feeling that we had stepped into a time warp and ended up someplace 50 years in the past. I have kept hoping that it isn't as bad as that, but the longer I stay and the more I learn, the worse this place seems.

I am not kidding here - the principal in my junior high is probably one of the most progressive ones in the region, and she has effectively given up the battle against the ass backwardness.



0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:03 am
@squinney,
Quote:
You can't mention "the gay?" Grrr! I'm hoping that is fairly localized and not something going on outside of LA, or the Bible Belt. Not sure how our district handles it.


Yeah, I was surprised to read that. In the last highschool I worked at in the US, which was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (in the Bible belt, but not considered to be OF the Bible belt by most bible belters in North Carolina) we had a LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender) club with faculty advisors.
It was a fairly big school (1600 students) grades 10-12.

One teacher work day the students in the club did a workshop for the teachers on how it felt to be a kid who was different in that way - either lesbian/gay/bi/or feeling in need of gender reassignment.
I found it very powerful.

But again, even though it's in the south and in the Bible belt, Chapel Hill is an anomaly as far as alot of the rest of North Carolina goes. And we had an amazingly open and empathetic principal and several gay faculty members- who were out to the rest of the faculty/students/parents etc.
And that was back in 2004.

Not knowing this specific community, I can only say that Squinney might have a point, in that what is known and accepted in other places may still be viewed as an anomaly there.
And maybe the age of the students is a factor as well. There's quite a difference in terms of emotional and sexual experience and maturity when you compare Junior high students to senior highschool students.
Even in Chapel Hill, I don't know how this issue was handled in the junior highs as compared to the senior highschool.
It'd be interesting to find out.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:09 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

Quote:
You can't mention "the gay?" Grrr! I'm hoping that is fairly localized and not something going on outside of LA, or the Bible Belt. Not sure how our district handles it.


Yeah, I was surprised to read that. In the last highschool I worked at in the US, which was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (in the Bible belt, but not considered to be OF the Bible belt by most bible belters in North Carolina) we had a LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender) club with faculty advisors.
It was a fairly big school (1600 students) grades 10-12.

One teacher work day the students in the club did a workshop for the teachers on how it felt to be a kid who was different in that way - either lesbian/gay/bi/or feeling in need of gender reassignment.
I found it very powerful.

But again, even though it's in the south and in the Bible belt, Chapel Hill is an anacronysm as far as alot of the rest of North Carolina goes. And we had an amazingly open and empathetic principal and several gay faculty members- who were out to the rest of the faculty/students/parents etc.
And that was back in 2004.

Not knowing this specific community, I can only say that Squinney might have a point. And to be honest - maybe the age of the students is a factor as well. There's quite a difference in terms of emotional and sexual experience and maturity when you compare Junior high students to senior highschool students.
Even in Chapel Hill, I don't know how this issue was handled in the junior highs as compared to the senior highschool.
It'd be interesting to find out.


I was born and raised in NC - went to elementary through high school there. I visit a couple times a year, and the political/sociological atmosphere is palpably much freer than it is in LA. We had been planning on moving back to San Antonio after I graduate, but lately we've changed our minds to trying to be close to my Mom in NC, at least as long as my mom is alive.

Aidan, I don't consider myself naive, and I was shocked right down to my shoes when the principal was telling me "how it is here".
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:09 am
@snood,
Wow. Excellent, and chilling, post.

I'm so glad you're doing what you can.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:11 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

This is one of the best posts I have ever seen on A2K, snood.

It is a very relevant issue and you are actually working in the environment where the issue occurs.


Thx, wandeljw for saying that.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:24 am
@snood,
Quote:
Aidan, I don't consider myself naive, and I was shocked right down to my shoes when the principal was telling me "how it is here".


Well, the thing you have on your side is that you are not employed by the school yet, and it doesn't sound like you want to be when you graduate.
In other words, you've really not got anything to lose by following your conscience.
As long as you do your course work and practicum - what can they do to you?

I'd be careful about going outside of the bounds or parameters of what the administration has decided is acceptable speech or subject matter in front of the students though , because they will be able to use that against you if you prove too much of a maverick and take matters into your own hands - just one or two parents have to complain that their kids came home and said, 'Mr. Snood said thus and such...' and they can muck up you finishing your practicum.

But in these discussions with the administration in their offices - I'd feel free to question their methods and motivation. What you've written above would be a good place to start.
That principal has to live in that community and play by those rules - I'll tell you - I'd never want that job. They have to walk a very, very fine line and cater to a lot of differing value sets and belief systems. And they all have their own interests to protect - a home, a family, kids who have to live in the community and go to the schools, etc., etc.
Sometimes they can't be as brave as we'd like to see them be. I watched my principal do what looked impossible to me with grace and finesse for the length of time I was there - and never once did I see him sell out - but boy did it age him.

I would say what you have to say in the meetings. If she's as enlightened as you say, she'll respect you for it and probably wish she was still in the position to have the freedom to do the same thing.

And you'll feel better about doing the right thing instead of just sitting there and watching it all get kept 'in the closet' - even in meetings.

PS - If you do move back to North Carolina and you are anywhere near Chapel Hill - that's a great system to work in.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 06:59 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:

Quote:
Aidan, I don't consider myself naive, and I was shocked right down to my shoes when the principal was telling me "how it is here".


Well, the thing you have on your side is that you are not employed by the school yet, and it doesn't sound like you want to be when you graduate.
In other words, you've really not got anything to lose by following your conscience.
As long as you do your course work and practicum - what can they do to you?

I'd be careful about going outside of the bounds or parameters of what the administration has decided is acceptable speech or subject matter in front of the students though , because they will be able to use that against you if you prove too much of a maverick and take matters into your own hands - just one or two parents have to complain that their kids came home and said, 'Mr. Snood said thus and such...' and they can muck up you finishing your practicum.

But in these discussions with the administration in their offices - I'd feel free to question their methods and motivation. What you've written above would be a good place to start.
That principal has to live in that community and play by those rules - I'll tell you - I'd never want that job. They have to walk a very, very fine line and cater to a lot of differing value sets and belief systems. And they all have their own interests to protect - a home, a family, kids who have to live in the community and go to the schools, etc., etc.
Sometimes they can't be as brave as we'd like to see them be. I watched my principal do what looked impossible to me with grace and finesse for the length of time I was there - and never once did I see him sell out - but boy did it age him.

I would say what you have to say in the meetings. If she's as enlightened as you say, she'll respect you for it and probably wish she was still in the position to have the freedom to do the same thing.

And you'll feel better about doing the right thing instead of just sitting there and watching it all get kept 'in the closet' - even in meetings.

PS - If you do move back to North Carolina and you are anywhere near Chapel Hill - that's a great system to work in.


Well, I really appreciate all the free advice Aidan. I think I have a pretty good grip on what my parameters are though, and if "selling out" vs speaking my mind wasn't something that concerned me, you never would have seen this thread.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:09 am
I hope you didn't think I was accusing you of selling out. I was just trying to communicate what I've learned about walking the line between achieving a worthwhile goal and blowing it all by taking it for granted that you can say what you want to say when you want to say it.

I had to learn that myself- that's why I was communicating it to you- maybe you already know it. If so, sorry - no offense meant.

It's just that I'm one of those people who thought it was always most efficient and effective to say whatever you needed to say and that if your heart was in the right place, and your cause was a worthy one - things would change.

It doesn't work that way in the public school system. I had to learn the rules and accept that sometimes it was better to play within the rules and take what little gains you could accomplish over time as opposed to trying to just break down all the barriers at once and change the culture - because it does sound like it needs to be changed. It often does.

I apologize if I didn't communicate that effectively. I wasn't trying to tell you what to do. I was just trying to communicate what I've learned.
Sorry.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:16 am
@snood,
Snood- It seems to me that staying in that school for you would be tantamount to rolling a rock uphill. As a new counselor, it is not a healthy way to start your career.

You write that you moved to La. to be near your mom. Is there any way where all of you can move to a more progressive area, where you can feel comfortable about working with gay kids without getting flack from the administration?

I perceive you as someone who has a lot to give, and I think that it is important for you to be free to work in a place where your talents can be utilized to the utmost.

I know that this is a conflict...........being a devoted son, and working in a non-toxic environment. Being a counselor, by the nature of the work, can be a recipe for burnout. I think that you owe it to yourself to give yourself the best chance to grow in your new profession.

Good luck!
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:38 am
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix32890 wrote:

Snood- It seems to me that staying in that school for you would be tantamount to rolling a rock uphill. As a new counselor, it is not a healthy way to start your career.

You write that you moved to La. to be near your mom. Is there any way where all of you can move to a more progressive area, where you can feel comfortable about working with gay kids without getting flack from the administration?

I perceive you as someone who has a lot to give, and I think that it is important for you to be free to work in a place where your talents can be utilized to the utmost.

I know that this is a conflict...........being a devoted son, and working in a non-toxic environment. Being a counselor, by the nature of the work, can be a recipe for burnout. I think that you owe it to yourself to give yourself the best chance to grow in your new profession.

Good luck!



I don't have the option of going anywhere yet. I'm locked into finishing this degree program here. I've already established myself with a clientele, done the legwork of issuing and getting back parental permissions, and a hundred other things that would make trying to leave here now not a sane option. Not to mention that I am just a few months from graduating and leaving would mean I'd have to try to transfer credit, go through application and accceptance, etc.

I didn't move to LA to be closer to my mother. I moved here because the Army stationed me at Ft Polk, and I'm just trying to bloom where I was planted. I won't stay any longer than I have to.

I will speak my mind when the benefits outweigh the cost, and I count benefit as opportunity to be of assistance to these adolescents, and risk as the potential for getting limited contact hours with them. I have to work within this system, and if I ostracize the administration in the interest of speaking my mind and "straightening them out", I risk their not being as helpful in referring clients, sharing confidential information, etc.

But thanks for the advice.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:45 am
@snood,
snood wrote:
... there is something clearly wrong to me about how those paying lip service to fighting bullying insist on sexual orientation being unmentioned in the whole initiative against bullying....... it is my opinion that we are participating in an evil for which there is no excuse.

Go over your post again and ask yourself this: are you confusing "wrong" (or "evil") with "false"? The truth needs no "excuse" - it just is.
squinney
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:47 am
Aidan - Chapel Hill/Hillsborough is considerably more forward thinking than other areas of NC due to the University system. Raleigh / Durham/RTP has pretty much caught up with Chapel Hill in this regard and was probably the main reason we turned blue in the last election. I attribute this to the influx of northerners over the past 10 years. Amazing growth has shaped the state in general, Wake county in particular, but we still have areas that are a bit backward looking. I like the progress being made, though.

Snood - You are going to do the right thing, no doubt. I'd personally be torn between leaving for a better personal environment and staying to try to make a difference in the school and community. I don't know that in reality I would have the stamina for the latter. Either way, your recording of the situation on the ground is an eye opener.

0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 07:56 am
@High Seas,
High Seas wrote:

snood wrote:
... there is something clearly wrong to me about how those paying lip service to fighting bullying insist on sexual orientation being unmentioned in the whole initiative against bullying....... it is my opinion that we are participating in an evil for which there is no excuse.

Go over your post again and ask yourself this: are you confusing "wrong" (or "evil") with "false"? The truth needs no "excuse" - it just is.


I'm sorry HS, I'm not following. Clarify.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Oct, 2010 08:28 am
@snood,
snood wrote:
That is why I spent hours and days preparing presentations about bullying that cannot mention bullying that occurs because someone is gay or accused of being gay.


this just made my eyes well up. For you, for the students, for others in the community who suffer because of the way some people (don't) think.

Thank you for posting.

 

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