My son's 8th grade class went to Provincetown today for the day. They've been learning about Ptown's history as an art colony, and the development of the "Provincetown print." They even tried their hands at making some of their own iconic Cape prints (my son's try is the image above, currently hanging in the school's Spring Art Show.)
I totally applaud the school and the art teacher for taking advantage of the natural resources we have here on Cape Cod, be they "nature" or "man-made," like the galleries and museums of Provincetown. My son came home energized and enthused by the various art forms they saw, and the artists who took the time to sit and talk with the students.
But there was one part of the program lacking, and that would be teaching tolerance.
For those who don't know about Provincetown, it's the town at the tip of Cape Cod that has been an outpost for artists, authors, playwrights, and other creative types for the last 100 years. It's also become a mecca for gays and lesbians. It's in no way a secret, so the teachers should have discussed this aspect of the trip ahead of time, seeing as it's middle school.
My son told me that many of the boys were making fun of pedestrians as the bus rolled through town, calling them "gay" in a derogatory manner. Or worse. And the teachers didn't call the kids on it. That was a teaching moment. By letting the behavior slip by, ignoring it, they may as well have condoned it. There need to be stronger anti-bullying rules in our schools, and less tolerance of poor behavior from our students.
While I'm skeptical that the legislation before the state house can really fix the bullying problems in our schools, we can all do our part to not let the kids "get away" with intolerant behavior. We all need to teach our children that it's okay to be different, and not to bully those who are not the same as them.