Bullying: Language, Literature, and Life

In every region of the world, LGBTQ+ people face oppression, marginalization, imprisonment, and even death. Over the past 20 years, lawmakers have increasingly recognized that LGBTQ+ youth are a vulnerable population in school settings, and many have implemented policies designed to make sure students feel safe at school. Unfortunately, progress is uneven, and in many school districts, LGBTQ+ students and teachers lack protections from discrimination, and in other districts, those protections are simply unenforced. LGBTQ+ people have also more often than not been victims of personal prejudice, social and cultural stigma, and legal and political discrimination.

Our lesson “LGBTQ+ Rights and Bullying” features the story and work of Jamie Nabozny. His experience with bullying started in middle school when he became the target of physical violence and degrading acts by classmates. When he sought help from administrators, he was told to “stop acting so gay.” Attacks continued through his young life and culminated when he was so badly beaten that he needed surgery. Once he realized that he was not alone and that others around the country were experiencing this type of violence, he decided to take a stand against bullying through legal action. Students will follow Nabozny’s story and learn to interpret language as a factor in perpetuating or preventing bullying. They will also identify behaviors that are consistent with bullies, victims, bystanders, and defenders. Students will be empowered by understanding the impact that one person standing up and speaking out can have.

Jamie Nabozny is a public speaker and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, following a landmark legal decision. Nabozny uses his voice and shares his experience to fight against bullying and bias.

Because all the activities involve independent or group research that can be done online, this lesson plan fits into either virtual or in-person classrooms, with opportunities for discussion and collaboration on Zoom or with classmates. This lesson will be an excellent complement to Discovery Education resources to learn more about Jamie Nabozny and ways to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ youth.