This weeks reading, “Using Popular Culture Texts in the Classroom to Interrogate Issues of Gender Transgression Related Bullying” by Alison Happel-Parkins and Jennifer Esposito, was about using popular culture in the classroom to engage students in the topics of sexuality, sexual orientation and bullying. In order to put these topics in perspective, they initially provided real life stories about individuals that decided to take their own lives as a result of homophobic bullying.
Gender, sexual orientation and bullying are hot topics in and outside the classroom. These topics are serious issues that students and educators deal with everyday therefore, it is critical that these topics are looked at and discussed in the classroom. The challenge is to determine how these topics should be approached, and in what ways educators can incorporate it into classroom discussions, curriculum, and what will the impact be to the students.
Diversity in the classroom is not new, and is increasing as a result of Canada’s multicultural melting pot. There is an increased amount of cultural diversity in the classroom, in addition to an increased amount of diversity around sexual orientation. In actuality, I’m not sure if diversity in sexual orientation has increased or if people are just more open about it. Either way, these changes dictate the need for educating students and educators about these issues.
There will be many challenges around having these types of conversations in the classroom due to different beliefs, experiences , stereotypes, fears, etc. The authors of the article suggest that "using popular culture is an effective and engaging way of connecting” to both students and educators who have never had to look at or challenge their own homophobia and heterosexism. (p.4)
I agree that if educators use popular movies and/or tv shows, such as “Ugly Betty” (example used in the article), that have relevant topics around gender issues, sexual orientation, and bullying, it will challenge pre-established beliefs and/or misconceptions. In a safe, supportive environment such as the classroom, it will allow for engagement, open dialogues, and hopefully both students and educators will be encouraged and feel comfortable enough to share their experiences and stories realizing that they are not alone.
I have included the following resources:
10 movies and tv shows that explore sexuality and sexual orientation http://www.redtentsisters.com/blog/10-sex-positive-movies-tv-shows-that-will-educate-entertain
A guide to information about bullying, including how to spot the signs, how parents can help bullied (or bullying) kids, and the effects of digital technology and cyberbullying on vulnerable young people http://www.childmind.org/en/bullying/home/