"My Three Sons"

"My Three Sons"



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Elizabeth Meyer's, "Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools" EXTENDED COMMENTS

                                   Elizabeth Meyers, "Gender Harassment in Secondary Schools", is a study done in response to earlier studies that have shown that sexual and homophobic harassment are accepted parts of school culture where faculty and staff rarely or never intervene to stop this harassment.  Students reported in these studies that teachers stand by and allow biased and hurtful behaviors to go unchallenged in their school and it is at the expense of the students.  "Why teachers do not intervene consistently" when it come to gender harassment is the question Meyer explores in her research paper.  She interviewed six secondary school teachers in one urban public school district in Canada to try and understand this phenomenon from their point of view.  
Meyer's findings indicated that there were internal and external influences that shape how teachers respond to gender harassment/bullying in their schools.  Internal influences include personal identities and teachers’ own experiences in school while the external factors include institutional influences such as administration, curriculum demands and work load, teacher education, and written policies.  External factors also can include social influences such as perceptions of administration, interpersonal relationships, and community values. She argues that these influences are the framework for the barriers and motivators that shape teacher responses.  Meyer's found that, 
"Queer theorists and other scholars of gender and sexuality have argued effectively that sex, gender, and sexual orientation are three distinct aspects of an individual’s identity and experience" (Bem, 1993; Butler, 1990; Connell, 1995; Jagose, 1996; Sedgwick, 1990/1993; Sullivan, 2003).   Meyer agrees with this perspective and believes many individuals merge these ideas which often results in 3 forms of harassment; sexual harassment, homophobic harassment and harassment for gender non-conformity.  She also argues that the way teachers understand these forms of gendered harassment will impact how and when they choose to intervene in incidents that they witness at school.  She explains that by identifying the barriers from the teachers’ perspectives, we can design more effective intervention programs to support educators in their efforts to create safer spaces in schools.  After her in depth interviews with teachers she found that personal experience and identity are the biggest motivators in taking action against gendered harassment.  The importance lies with educating and informing those teachers who have not experienced gendered harassment so they will become aware aware of it and be able to respond to it in the appropriate ways.  Meyer emphasizes that in orderr to address and help change this issue we should focus on teacher education, administraative support and school policies. To go about this change she also  stresses that building awareness of the problem is the first step before we can find a solution. 

    "My response based on questions Brigette took from Meyer's Text"

In Brigette's blog she summarizes Meyer's research and looks deeper into the issue through questions and answers.  She explains that teachers aren’t as likely to intervene in cases of gendered harassment in comparison to other forms of bullying and that is due to societal norms and gender roles. I do agree with this to some point.  I think it always one always second guesses themselves when their decision may go against the dominant ideology.  They feel there will be repercussions for them with inside their “school culture”.

Brigette also explains Meyer’s point on lack of consistency among educators in how to deal with gender harassment. Meyer found that teachers respond to gendered harassment based on their personal experiences,  administrator’s views, the community, and their work load.  I agree it would be very difficult to respond to an issue such as this with consistency if all these factors come into play.  One of the biggest factors I feel is the consistency of written policy.  What is the school’s or towns policy on gender harassment?  There aren’t specific enough policies to follow and definitely not enough consistency in “Follow Through” when it comes to those students doing the harassing. There needs to be specific policies and procedures and administration needs to be held responsible for the follow through.

I think it is unbelievable that teachers don’t have the support of their administrators when dealing with gender harassment and that they couldn’t be bothered with dealing with it.  I feel this sets the tone for the entire school and to those students who again, are bullying.  If students know that that the reproductions are minor when bullying students they are not going to be deterred from doing it.  Their own principal could care less, so why would they.  I also feel teachers do not want to go against their principal or anyone higher up than them and if I were in their situation I would feel very discouraged as well.  We need “anti-bullying programs” such as the one in Brigette’s mother’s school.

In response to Meyers findings that “many teachers felt their work load and curriculum demands made it difficult for them to take the time to deal with gender harassment”, I can honestly say I believe that.  Also training should be mandatory across the country.  Gender harassment is not “isolated” it is a problem throughout schools across the entire country.  I will have to say when I am over loaded at school it would be very easy to brush other issues to the side but this is not a case of a Kindergartner tattling on their classmate for writing on the desks.  This is SERIOUS

As Brigette

Meyer’s study helped me to understand the underlying issues of gender harassment when it comes to how teachers respond and why.  I feel no matter what the administrators feel or what the policies are you will always have teachers will respond strictly by their personal identity, views, opinions and experiences.  Sometimes that is a positive thing and sometimes that is a huge “barrier”.  The only way for this issue to be dealt with is identifying that there is a serious problem concerning this issue, explains the importance, and further express possible solutions which I feel is OPEN DIALOGUE and TRAINING for all teachers.  The policies also need to be set in stone and the administrators need to know  “What Is Going On In Their School” and address it immediately..

I have one student who is black and was adopted by white parents.  If that issue is not difficult enough for her, both her parents are women.  No one has ever made her feel upset, bad or bullied her because of her family but they dooooooo ask many questions.  I try to have open dialogue with my students no matter what the issue.  I help support them in any way and most of the time it means explaining “WHY?” things are the way they are.  I am open and honest at all costs within what I feel is appropriate for them to hear and hope it begins at a young age to build understanding and acceptance.  To have any 2 parents that love and support you is a wonderful thing…..Can’t we focus on that?”  I also believe this issue scares some people or they are threatened by sexuality different from theirs.  These students and teachers need to educate themselves and not put their insecurities onto others.


Here are some resources you can use to stop the spread of bullying:
Rogue Reviews articles


  1. Hi Nina, I think you did a nice job summarizing Mayer's research as well as Brigette's blog. I also like the cartoon you included.

  2. Great blog! I like how you used my blog to do your extended comments on! You did a nice job using my questions as main points in your blog. I enjoyed your videos and personal stories too :)

  3. Nina!
    Great summary of Brigette's blog, you two discussed some great points. Love the cartoons and video too!!

  4. Nina, I loved the point you made when you said, "I think it is unbelievable that teachers don’t have the support of their administrators when dealing with gender harassment and that they couldn’t be bothered with dealing with it." I agree with this but unfortunately I think it is becoming a trend in education. You did a great job making connections to both the text and Brigette's blog!

  5. Great blog Nina! Great connections to real life and the text...I agree that the dialogue has to be opened up between teachers and students and we can't shy away from answering some difficult questions. Kids are going to be inquisitive if there's a situation that's new or foreign to them, and it's there right to ask questions about it. Being well-informed is half the battle to being more open to new things and experiences!

  6. You made some great connections. I really like all of your visuals and the video, they are great for visual people.