Identity Politics Discussions and Transgressions

Positive Space Poster

I have chosen this safe space poster, displayed in all of my schools, as a reminder of a difficult conflict that I faced with a young student who used a homophobic slur in class. My MT was absent at the time (they happened to identify as LGBT) and so it become urgent that I deal with what was said to preserve the safe-space nature of the classroom. Still, dealing with a difficult situation of this magnitude had not yet happened to me and so I was forced to act based on my intuition and my knowledge about social justice and equity, rather than relying on my MT to guide and then debrief me. I spoke at length with the student about how his actions might have impacted other students in the classroom, not just the student he was targeting. I asked him to think about how this conflict might be paralleled in other conflicts and then I asked him to apologize to the entirety of the class because, if they were upholding their end of the safe spaces commitment, they should all be upset by the comments. My relationship with the student has since been very strong and when I visit his school he is always eager to chat with me about where my work has taken me.

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Class Participation

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