WBEZ | bullying http://www.wbez.org/tags/bullying Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Pro-ball bullying raises questions on the concept of masculinity http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-08/morning-shift-pro-ball-bullying-raises-questions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr danxoneil.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Author Rosalind Wiseman discusses the recent bullying scandal in the NFL and how it reflects notions of masculinity at large. Plus, Peter Sagal joins us to take a look at the blurry line comedy straddles when it comes to ethnic humor. (Photo: Flickr/danxoneil)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-pro-ball-bullying-raises-questions-o/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-pro-ball-bullying-raises-questions-o.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-pro-ball-bullying-raises-questions-o" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Pro-ball bullying raises questions on the concept of masculinity" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 08 Nov 2013 08:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-08/morning-shift-pro-ball-bullying-raises-questions Hazing incident revealed at Plano High School http://www.wbez.org/news/hazing-incident-revealed-plano-high-school-108572 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_football_trevor manternach.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Another school in the Chicago region is tackling its own hazing scandal. Members of suburban Plano High School&rsquo;s football and basketball teams were arrested this week for allegedly sexually assaulting some of their teammates. The incidents took place in August 2012 to February of this year.</p><p>Dr. Eleazar Eusebio with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology said hazing rituals can be similar to bullying, but hazed students are likely to keep quiet and carry on the practice as a right of passage.</p><p>He said some students may feel that if it&rsquo;s something they experienced, they have the right to do it to others.</p><p>&ldquo;It seems as if we&rsquo;ve given hazing a little more of a permission in some ways to exist from our own understanding of rights of passages; for example, sororities, fraternities, the military, sports teams,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Eusebio said hazing traditions may start out with something innocuous, but over time the tradition can get twisted to the point where people become physically and emotionally harmed.</p><p>He said rarely does the victim come forward to report the problem. Usually, it&rsquo;s someone not involved who happens to find out about the practice.</p><p>Eusebio said schools should put strict anti-hazing policies in place. He said schools could also implement other team building programs to build leadership in healthy ways.</p><p>The Plano School District said it&rsquo;s increasing supervision and altering locker room procedures as well as opening a student safety phone line.</p><p>Earlier this week, another student has come forward in the Maine West High School hazing scandal. The student&rsquo;s filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually assaulted in a soccer team hazing incident.</p></p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 11:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hazing-incident-revealed-plano-high-school-108572 The Emily Bazelon interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/emily-bazelon-interview-106721 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Emily Bazelon_Credit Nina Subin.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Photo: Nina Subin" />You&#39;d think that with the It Gets Better project and a lower tolerance for bad behavior, bullying would be on its way out as a social phenomenon. Unfortunately, it seems like every day another story comes out about someone who took his or her own life due to torment they received from their peers. Today&#39;s interviewee has been very busy discussing what she learned while researching her book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sticks-Stones-Defeating-Rediscovering-Character/dp/0812992806/ref=la_B00ABOMYSG_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1366306956&amp;sr=1-1">Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy</a>. In addition to that, she is a writer and senior editor of Slate, where she edits the legal column, &quot;<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence.html">Jurisprudence</a>&quot;,&nbsp; is co-editor of its blog on women&#39;s issues, <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor.html">XX Factor</a> and regularly appears on <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/gabfest.html">Political Gabfest</a>, a weekly Slate podcast with David Plotz and John Dickerson. She is also a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, and other publications.&nbsp; You can find out more about her <a href="http://emilybazelon.com/">here</a>.</div><p dir="ltr"><strong>If you had to choose between your child being a bully or being the victim of bullying, which would you pick?</strong><br />If I had to choose&mdash;of course I would rather not--I would actually rather have my kids be targets. The reason is not actually that I think that would make their lives easier. When you look at the research, the targets of bullying (now, it doesn&rsquo;t happen to everyone)&mdash;but most kids can overcome this kind of adversity, but there is a higher risk of psychological problems in the short term and long term. And there also is a link to low academic performance. And I just care enormously about my kids&rsquo; treating other people well. It would kill me if they were singling out another kid to persecute them, which is what I think bullying is--that&rsquo;s the definition I think we should use. My book has made me think a lot as a parent about whether we collectively emphasize individual achievement and happiness more than we do moral development and the sense of the collective good as we&rsquo;re raising our kids.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>When I was a kid, I was really obsessed with my friends talking about me, and when you write online, that happens in real time. So I&rsquo;ve sort of been amazed by the thick skin that I&rsquo;ve been able to build up over time writing online because you can&rsquo;t take it all to heart. I wonder whether you&rsquo;ve noticed if kids have been able to develop any coping mechanisms in terms of dealing with online bullying, or whether being able to take it or ignore comes more with adulthood.</strong><br />You know, I haven&rsquo;t seen anyone compare adults and kids. My sense is that kids are not going to be as good at having a thick skin. I agree with you, I try to have a thick skin, but a lot of adults actually don&rsquo;t. I think the issue with kids is that developmentally speaking, they&rsquo;re just more vulnerable. They don&rsquo;t have it all figured out. It&rsquo;s harder sometimes for them to have perspective, even to separate the short term from the long term, right? I think that cyber bullying can be really damaging for kids. Luckily, as we were saying earlier, that&rsquo;s not always the case, and most kids can make it through. But when you see some of the cruelty that goes on online, it&rsquo;s not surprising to see findings for example, that 25% of 12 and 13-year-old girls say that they saw something written online that made them not want to go to school the next day. That kind of finding suggests we&rsquo;re not talking about stuff that every kid can just shrug off.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How do you know, based on being a mom but also the research you&rsquo;ve done, what&rsquo;s the fine line between letting the kids work it out for themselves and when do authority figures intervene?</strong><br />I feel like, you take your cue from your kid. You listen and talk to your kid really carefully about what&rsquo;s going on. If you feel like your kid is becoming withdrawn and depressed and it&rsquo;s continuing over a significant period of time, then you have to step in. I don&rsquo;t think that your first instinct should be to jump in and try to intervene in a really policing sort of way, because a lot of times kids do need space to solve their own conflicts. If you talk to your kid, they may not want you to take that kind of step, because they&rsquo;ll be worried about what the consequences will be with their peers. Sometimes you have to override children about those types of instincts. But I think it&rsquo;s a good idea to start off relatively cautiously. One thing I always say, is that parents should talk to kids about what they think the solution should be. Because then you end up often with both an attempt at a solution that makes more sense, but also you&rsquo;re giving kids the capacity to problem-solve. One of the hallmarks of resilience is that you learn to believe that when you work hard to make a problem better and to overcome adversity, you&rsquo;re going to succeed. So it seems like in here is an opportunity for parents to really help kids build up exactly the kind of skills they need later in life to overcome problems, because obviously they are going to face trouble and conflict later on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Do you think bullied kids have it easier now, because more people have an eye out for them? Or is it harder, because of the internet?</strong><br />I think the internet can make it harder because it feels very 24/7 and prevalent to kids, and they can feel exposed in front of a bigger audience. There&rsquo;s the sense of the visibility of the bullying, and the permanence of it. But I think you&rsquo;re also right about the heightened awareness--it just totally depends where you are. There is still a big problem with teachers turning a blind eye and underreacting. At the same time, we are seeing more vigilance and in some cases overreacting. It&rsquo;s this weird moment culturally where both of those things are going on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Is it realistic to try to raise your kids offline?</strong><br />Forever? No. The way I think about it is this: As much delay as you can and then taking it step by step. So, I don&rsquo;t think that having ten and 11 year olds on social media sites is a good idea, and I&rsquo;m always amazed when parents just sort of seem to be like, &ldquo;Oh, I couldn&rsquo;t stop them!&rdquo; Well, why not? Don&rsquo;t they live in your house?</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>They didn&rsquo;t want to try to stop them.</strong><br />Yeah, exactly! I don&rsquo;t really get that. At the same time there&rsquo;s some point at which access to the technology becomes a really important form of social capital. When I was growing up, my parents hated that I talked on the phone, but if they had taken the phone away from me entirely, that would have left me out of all kinds of things, right?</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I had parents who were strict with television</strong><strong>&mdash;</strong><strong>we didn&rsquo;t have cable when I was a kid, and I wasn&rsquo;t allowed to watch prime time TV until we were a certain age.</strong><br />I think limit setting is really helpful in this context. Some of the examples I give are like, maybe you feel your 13 year old is ready for a phone. But does your teen need a smart phone or would a &ldquo;dumb&rdquo; phone, that doesn&rsquo;t have the internet and doesn&rsquo;t have a camera would be a better match for what he can really handle technologically. That is the choice we have been making for our own son, who just actually lost his dumb phone! Perhaps he&rsquo;s not ready for the much more expensive item he would like to have. There are ways you can limit access in terms of hours of the day. One night, we realized our 13-year-old was sleeping with his phone under his pillow. It was innocent--he just wanted to know how a friend of his had done on her basketball game. But like, he doesn&rsquo;t need to know that at 10:30 at night. And also, what if he had gotten an upsetting message late, after we were all asleep, then what, you know? It seems like nothing good can come of any of that. There&rsquo;s no reason he needs the phone in the middle of the night. So we made a rule that the phones sleep downstairs and the people sleep upstairs.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Have you noticed since your book has come out any changes from any social media platforms, or schools that are in line with your book in terms of trying to counteract or prevent bullying?</strong><br />I think schools are becoming more and more aware of this. I hear about things like the &ldquo;delete day&rdquo; idea that I wrote about, which isn&rsquo;t my idea but I highlighted that idea&mdash;I&rsquo;ve heard that other schools are taking that on. I think the social media companies have been studiously ignoring this whole conversation and the only way that&rsquo;s going to change is if we their customers demand from them that they change how they deal with teenagers.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>One thing that frightens me, with having a little baby, is that the whole conversation that&rsquo;s happening right now about bullying is scary enough, but then I think, something will come along that will make it even easier for him to make someone&rsquo;s life or have his life made into a living hell. Facebook and Twitter will be so over.</strong><br />Well, it&rsquo;s happening already--the kids are migrating on to Instagram and Twitter, as their parents are slightly more clued in. I don&rsquo;t know what the next next thing will be&mdash;of course I don&rsquo;t know that, I&rsquo;m like the lamest early adopter ever. And also the whole point is that adults aren&rsquo;t supposed to know, right? But, I do think this: The reason why I wrote <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/03/how-to-stop-bullies/309217/">in the Atlantic </a>about Henry Lieberman (at MIT), about his idea of an algorithm to help prevent cyberbullying, is I think that right now we are being too passive about the underlying architecture of the web and just assuming there&rsquo;s nothing to be done about it. The only thing we can do is throw up our hands. I just cannot believe that is true. These are sophisticated companies with an enormous level of resources. If they wanted to make these online environments take into account teenagers&rsquo; social welfare, they could figure it out how to do it. They could work with schools--they could just simply give school administrators and guidance counselors an email dropbox where they could send Hey! Help! kind of alerts. And none of that is happening right now. This is the Mark Zuckerberg line: privacy is an evolving standard, i.e. we will just have less and less of it--and that&rsquo;s just the way it is? But no, we have control over these norms.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>When you were on Stephen Colbert and <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/life/bulle/2013/02/emily_bazelon_on_colbert_report_stephen_colbert_cries_during_show_with_slate.html">you made him cry</a>, I was just curious to know how that went down ahead of time: What you were told, how did the bit came together, who came up with it and so on?</strong><br />I&rsquo;ve been on Colbert a few times now. The producer had called me and we had talked about my book, but I didn&rsquo;t know Colbert was going to ask that question. I have thought about it... I figured that either he was going to accuse me of being a bully or he was going to ask me whether he was a bully. It seemed like an obvious way for the show to go. They&rsquo;re very wary of anything that sounds rehearsed or canned. I will say, having been on a few times, I realize it&rsquo;s all about the situational, in-the-moment comedy. It&rsquo;s because he&rsquo;s incredibly quick, he&rsquo;s really good at it. You just try to say your thing and see what comes of it.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>You&rsquo;ve talked about raising your sons to be feminists. What practical things have you told them so far about how they should interact with girls? I&rsquo;m thinking back to when my brother was growing up my mom told him to always say yes if a girl asks him to dance.</strong><br />Oh that&rsquo;s great, I&rsquo;m gonna steal that one! I love that! &nbsp;I have said to my sons, you have to treat girls and women well, as a basic baseline, and that boys who are good listeners... girls really value that. That&rsquo;s something they should really make sure to try and develop. I don&rsquo;t go around preaching about feminism very much in my house, just because &ldquo;preaching&rdquo;&mdash;I mean, my kids roll their eyes.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I read that poor <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/hanna-rosin-interview-102548">Hanna Rosin</a>&rsquo;s son <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/hanna-rosin-talks-about-a_n_1837066.html">is sick of her it seems</a>.</strong><br />I know, I know, Jacob. I used to write a family column about my kids for Slate but then I stopped because they were getting old enough that people were starting to ask them about it and I felt it was enough. Which is too bad in some ways because they&rsquo;re only continuing to be more and more hilarious as they get older. It&rsquo;s not that I never mention them, I mean, I&rsquo;m talking about them with you. So I would say that what I mostly feel about my kids, is that they are seeing their parents with not a whole lot of aplomb. My husband and I juggle things together all the time. He isn&rsquo;t very involved in their lives and I don&rsquo;t think they have the idea. They have been surprised when they have learned that women didn&rsquo;t used to be able to vote, or women used to work less. Those are sort of revelations to them.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/magazine/12ginsburg-t.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">Your 2009 interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg</a> was cited in <a href="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&amp;sid=cp112SUHud&amp;r_n=hr496.112&amp;dbname=cp112&amp;&amp;sel=TOC_84201&amp;">the United States House of Representatives&#39; Committee Report in support of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2012 </a>sex or race-based abortion. Some states are working on laws banning sex or raced-based abortion. Is that a thing that is happening very much?</strong><br />My sense is, and I&rsquo;m not hugely expert in this, is that this is something that happens to some degree in countries like India and China. And that there&rsquo;s very little evidence that it&rsquo;s happening here.</p><p dir="ltr">I think that sex selection laws are essentially symbolic because like you said, people are not going to give this reason. Even if they might feel it, they aren&rsquo;t going to say it, right? And then when you look at the other laws about admission privileges, or there&rsquo;s these one that are called &ldquo;trap laws,&rdquo; where the abortion clinic has to have the same specifications as an ambulatory surgical center. So that sentence is totally boring. But what that means in practice is that we&rsquo;re going to shut down this clinic by making it so expensive to operate because we&rsquo;re going to make it have all these &ldquo;safety conditions&rdquo; in place, but really it means it&rsquo;s a lot of red tape and the clinic can&rsquo;t operate any more. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s really going on.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>What is going to be your next big project?</strong><br />That&rsquo;s a good question, do you have any ideas for me? I really am trying to figure that out, but I really don&rsquo;t know the answer right now.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>I think you should write Young Adult fiction!</strong><br />You know it&rsquo;s so funny, I wish that I could write Young Adult fiction novels--I have no reason to think I can do that well. There are a few different things I&rsquo;m really interested in right now, but honestly I&rsquo;m so depleted and I&rsquo;m still talking about my book! So I think I need a couple months to get my bearings. But I&rsquo;m really looking forward to having a new project!</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 345th person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />It feels great! You ask such smart and interesting questions.<br /><br /><em>Follow me <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a>. To see previous interviews, go <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/interviews.php">here</a>. </em></p></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 08:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/emily-bazelon-interview-106721 Suburban school board backs off transgender protections http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-school-board-backs-transgender-protections-104461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6834_East Aurora 069-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The school board of East Aurora voted Monday to dissolve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/east-aurora-school-district-announces-new-committee-wake-transgender-controversy-103499" target="_blank">a committee it formed in October to advise the district on transgender issues</a>.</p><p>The move comes just months after the district <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/turnabout-east-aurora-school-board-tosses-out-transgender-protections-103300" target="_blank">withdrew a policy</a> that would have allowed students to use their preferred names and gender pronouns. It would have also allowed students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with or be provided with the option of a private bathroom.</p><p>Although many turned up at early meetings to express their support for <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33042109" target="_blank">the rescinded policy</a>, it has since sparked ongoing protest from parents at public meetings, including Monday&rsquo;s school board meeting. Reportedly upwards of 100 members of the public showed up.<iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F71866034"></iframe></p><p>Most were there to continue their protest of any policy that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say what they were trying to tell us was, you know, a girl going into a boys&rsquo; bathroom or a boy going into a girls&rsquo; bathroom...the parents didn&rsquo;t feel that the school could control that,&rdquo; said school board president Annette Johnson.</p><p>But Vera Verbel, a transgender woman from a nearby suburb who attended the last committee meeting to speak out in favor of a policy, said she thinks parents&rsquo; fears are misinformed.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s an implication that transgender people for some reason are dangerous, and will cause harm to those who aren&rsquo;t transgender,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Verbel said she was booed by the audience at the meeting when she identified herself as a Christian.</p><p>&ldquo;I said, I can&rsquo;t believe you would be this way, you would freely accept God&rsquo;s grace for yourself, but you won&rsquo;t extend it for me? Shame on you,&rdquo; Verbel said. &ldquo;And that kind of quieted things down a bit.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson and others who support dissolving the committee point to anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies the district already has in place.</p><p>The state of Illinois requires public school districts to have anti-bullying policies, and in 2010 gender identity was added as a protected class.</p><p>Since the October controversy over transgender protections, the district has updated <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=32683916" target="_blank">those policies</a> accordingly.</p><p>Johnson said she has heard about two transgender students, one middle and one elementary school student, whose parents have raised the need for support within their schools. But she said those conversations never made it to the school board, and she believes the individual schools will support those students&rsquo; needs.</p><p>&ldquo;Whether they&rsquo;re transgender or not, [students] need to be protected, they need to have safety. They don&rsquo;t need to be bullied, and I get that,&rdquo; said Pat McManus, senior pastor at Kingdom Impact Center in Aurora.</p><p>McManus sat on the 22-person committee along with other leaders from within and beyond Aurora, but he supported the district&rsquo;s decision to dissolve it.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you need to change a whole policy for a school district just for one or two people,&rdquo; McManus said.</p><p>He also said he did not recall any booing or heckling at committee meetings.</p><p>Statistically, it is very difficult to establish how many people are transgender - estimates range between one in 12,000 to one in 50.</p><p>But one thing is proven: transgender students are disproportionately likely to experience harassment at school.&nbsp;</p><p>A <a href="http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2897.html" target="_blank">recent national survey</a>&nbsp;says 80 percent of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender identities, and nearly 40 percent of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe in locker rooms and bathrooms.</p><p>And one study says the&nbsp;<a href="http://http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf" target="_blank">suicide rate among transgender people</a> is 26 times the rate among the general population.</p><p>Johnson said the East Aurora School District will enforce anti-bullying policies already in place, rather than passing a policy specific to transgender students.</p><p>&ldquo;We just needed to finally put this to rest and let the staff get back to working on the test scores and things like that,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p></p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 19:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-school-board-backs-transgender-protections-104461 East Aurora School District announces new committee in the wake of transgender controversy http://www.wbez.org/news/east-aurora-school-district-announces-new-committee-wake-transgender-controversy-103499 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="348" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/52432249?badge=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>(Slideshow: Parents and community members talk about what Aurora is like for transgender students.)</em></p><p>The East Aurora School District has announced that a committee will hold its first meeting Nov. 8 to discuss potential new anti-bullying and discrimination policies.</p><p>The formation of the committee comes in the wake of a controversy in which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/turnabout-east-aurora-school-board-tosses-out-transgender-protections-103300">the school board passed and then rescinded a policy</a> on transgender students in just five days&rsquo; time, and one key administrator was placed on leave for her part in developing the initial policy.</p><p><a href="http://https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33042109">The policy</a> would have allowed transgender students to use their preferred names and pronouns at school, and to have access to bathrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender they identify with. It also stipulated that transgender students had a right to privacy, and said they could be out at school without having their parents notified.</p><p>District spokesman Clayton Muhammad said Monday that the committee will be selected by board members and administrators, but meetings will be open to the public. He said the new committee will develop an &ldquo;all-inclusive&rdquo; anti-discrimination policy for students, but will not necessarily address issues specific to transgender students.</p><p>During the week of Oct. 15-19, the East Aurora school board received hundreds of calls and emails in protest of the policy &ndash; many from outside of the district. One conservative group called it &ldquo;a radical policy on gender confusion&rdquo; in a <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/education/aurora-east-high-school-board-of-education-adopts-radical-policy-on-gender-confusion/">web post</a> asking its members to send emails.</p><p>But when over twenty people from the area spoke at a packed public board meeting Oct. 19, almost all spoke out in favor of keeping the protections in place. At least one suggested forming a committee to address the issue.</p><p>Advocates in favor of the transgender protection believe the district rescinded the policy because of pressure from outsiders.</p><p>The district said they rescinded it because they did not fully understand its implications and were not prepared to implement it.</p><p>And some parents said the new protections seemed like they should be uncontroversial, because East Aurora was already a supportive place for LGBTQ students.</p><p>What happened in East Aurora?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6612_East%20Aurora%20035-scr.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: right; " title="East Aurora High School (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p><strong>&quot;They never said their kids were being bullied&rdquo;</strong></p><p>In the few days between passing and rescinding the policy, East Aurora School Board President Annette Johnson estimates the board received over a thousand communications, mostly emails, about the protections for transgender students. The Illinois Family Institute, a conservative Christian ministry designated as a &ldquo;hate group&rdquo; by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was behind at least a few hundred of these communications.</p><p>But Johnson said it wasn&rsquo;t those calls that led to the school board&rsquo;s quick turnabout on the issue.</p><p>&ldquo;Here&rsquo;s the big thing that I want to point out to everybody,&rdquo; Johnson said, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have an issue with us rewriting the policy.&rdquo; She says that&rsquo;s the task the new committee will take on. But when it was passed, she said, the district was unprepared: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just that that particular policy on that particular day...we did not have a prayer of implementing that program. You can&rsquo;t put a policy in place before people get trained.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson also said the board was misled by an administrator to believe they were just updating policies to meet state requirements.</p><p>That administrator, Dr. Christie Aird, was placed on administrative leave nearly two weeks ago. Johnson said the leave was a result of Aird&rsquo;s part in passing the policy. District representatives had no comment and Dr. Aird has not returned calls.</p><p>Aird worked with other administrators and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, an LGBT youth advocacy group, to develop the policy over several months. According Alliance leaders, the process was initiated after a parent with a young transgender child in the district sought the help of school administrators.</p><p>&ldquo;I was approached by an outside organization and by Dr. Aird, saying hey, we&rsquo;ve got a gender nonconforming student, and we want to make sure that East Aurora is prepared to support transgender students,&rdquo; said David Fischer, the Alliance&rsquo;s program manager.</p><p>The Alliance provided Aird with model policies and advised her on the one she brought to a school board committee chaired by Annette Johnson in July. Johnson&rsquo;s committee unanimously approved the new policy in October after district lawyers gave it the go-ahead.</p><p>The same committee looked at proposed changes to the district&rsquo;s <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=32683916">anti-bullying policy</a> in July. East Aurora has yet to update it to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups, an update required by the state of Illinois as of 2010. When Aird brought the transgender policy to the board, she also brought this proposed change. Johnson said the board still plans to vote on a new bullying policy.</p><p>But Johnson also said she thinks the district is already doing a good job dealing with bullying and said no parents had come forward to the contrary. Even the parents expressing support for the transgender protections, she said, &ldquo;never said their kids were being bullied.&rdquo;</p><p>Some of the confusion on all sides may stem from the fact that the transgender policy passed in East Aurora was not exactly an anti-bullying policy, nor was it an update required by the state of Illinois. Most of it focused on the responsibilities of teachers and administrators to accommodate and protect students who are out as transgender at school by allowing them to participate in school activities under their preferred name and gender.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6610_East%20Aurora%20011-scr.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; " title="Dr. Amanda Lowe (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /><strong>Are transgender students safe in Aurora?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The district in general, and the community, are very, very protective of the students,&rdquo; said Dr. Amanda Lowe, a psychologist whose daughter attends East Aurora High. &ldquo;So this was sort of a shock...it was exactly the opposite of the way they usually respond to these types of issues.&rdquo;</p><p>East Aurora or District 131 is a small school district contained within the larger city of Aurora, a municipality of nearly 200,000 people. Aurora&rsquo;s kids attend schools in <a href="http://www.aurora-il.org/links.php">six different districts</a>. Of about 14,000 students in District 131, 84 percent are Latino, 8 percent are black, and 5 percent are white. Many students are poor and many have parents who are undocumented; Lowe says the district&rsquo;s protectiveness extends to issues like deportation raids and dropout rates. East Aurora High has an active Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), mental health services and an anti-bullying program in partnership with an <a href="http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_prevention_program.page?menuheader=9.">outside organization</a>.</p><p>Lowe has lived in Aurora for fifteen years. She said she moved to the community because she liked its diversity, its schools, and its progressive politics. She is bisexual, and she works with LGBTQ-identified clients as well as East Aurora students in her professional practice. When she and her daughter &ndash; whom she describes as &ldquo;also not straight&rdquo; &ndash; found out about the policy, she said they &ldquo;had a little celebration.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The next morning,&rdquo; Lowe said, &ldquo;it was gone. There was an article saying there had been some kind of backlash.&rdquo; After being contacted by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Lowe attended the public meeting a few days later and spoke in favor of keeping the policy.</p><p>Asked whether she might become a member of the new committee, she said she doubts she&rsquo;ll get a call.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they [the school board] like me very much,&rdquo; Lowe said.</p><p>Sandra Conti is a mental health therapist who has lived in Aurora for seventeen years. Her son, who is transgender, goes to school in Aurora in District 204, which is east of District 131 and extends into Naperville.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6613_East%20Aurora%20046-scr.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 240px; float: right; " title="Sandra Conti (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>She said her son has encountered some difficulty with students and teachers at school, but she believes he&rsquo;s had an easier time because of her advocacy.</p><p>&ldquo;The frustrating part for me are adults who do nothing,&rdquo; she said in an interview at the home of a friend. &ldquo;In my school they do attend to it, but I&rsquo;ll be honest, I think they attend to it because I&rsquo;ve been so active in the school district.&rdquo;</p><p>While Conti&rsquo;s son has chosen to stay at his school despite some difficulty, she says bathrooms, locker rooms, and pronouns were all issues at first. Before he came out and was given access to a private locker room, she said, &ldquo;he was to the point where I worried about suicide.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He spent two and a half years in hell,&quot; she said. &quot;Sad to say, but we need the policies for adults to step up to the plate.&rdquo;</p><p>Nationwide, transgender people report a high rate of harassment and discrimination for their gender identities. The <a href="http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf">suicide rate among transgender people is 41%</a>, 26 times the rate among the general population. A <a href="http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2897.html">national survey</a>&nbsp;published by Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 2011 said 80% of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender identities, and nearly 40% of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe in locker rooms and bathrooms.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6615_East%20Aurora%20072-scr.jpg" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; " title="West Aurora High School (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />In West Aurora, just across the river from the east side, the main high school has had a GSA group for eight years; it changed its name to Spectrum this year. The group&rsquo;s advisor, Joe Maston, said he has never had any problem with the administration and believes the school is generally protective of LGBTQ students. But if a policy like the one in East Aurora were passed at West, he said, &ldquo;it would bring the controversy to the forefront, I&rsquo;m sure. I&rsquo;m sure there are many people who would be upset on both sides.&rdquo;</p><p>Maston also said he knows students don&rsquo;t always bring their concerns to teachers, even the ones with a reputation for being supportive.</p><p>&ldquo;If someone came to me tomorrow and said, &lsquo;what are you talking about, all these terrible things happen all the time&rsquo;...I guess I don&rsquo;t know if I would be surprised or not.&rdquo;</p><p>See our slideshow (above) for more from parents and community members about what Aurora is like for LGBT students.</p></p> Tue, 30 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/east-aurora-school-district-announces-new-committee-wake-transgender-controversy-103499 In turnabout, East Aurora school board tosses out transgender protections http://www.wbez.org/news/turnabout-east-aurora-school-board-tosses-out-transgender-protections-103300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/600-protest.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The East Aurora School Board voted Friday to rescind a policy on transgender students passed just five days before.</p><p>The <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33042109" target="_blank">policy</a>&nbsp;aimed to protect transgender and gender-nonconforming students&rsquo; right to privacy, and would have asked teachers to respect students&rsquo; pronoun and name choices. It would also have mandated that the school find a way to include transgender students in sports and physical education without forcing them to disclose their identities or use facilities that don&rsquo;t fit their gender identities.</p><p>The policy would have asked school administrators to deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis. It was passed unanimously&nbsp;by the small suburban school board on Monday, Oct. 15.</p><p>By Wednesday the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a conservative Christian ministry, had put out a call for protest. According to Laurie Higgins, the IFI&rsquo;s Cultural Analyst, her <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/education/aurora-east-high-school-board-of-education-adopts-radical-policy-on-gender-confusion/" target="_blank">post on the topic</a> generated hundreds of emails to the small school district demanding they get rid of the protections for transgender students.</p><p>In just a few days&rsquo; time, the school board of East Aurora called a meeting at which they voted unanimously to withdraw the policy. Dozens of parents and community members spoke at the meeting. According to news reports, most spoke out in favor of keeping the protections for transgender students.</p><p>Clayton Muhammad, the spokesperson for the district, said that East Aurora is seeking to establish &ldquo;a policy that&rsquo;s aligned with the state board of education.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll look to establish a community-wide committee who will sit down as a community to look at anti-bullying as a whole,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;What recommendations come out of that is what we&rsquo;ll move forward with.&rdquo; He did not provide any details on who would be included in the committee, or on whether or not the committee can be expected to develop a new policy for transgender students.</p><p>The Illinois General Assembly updated its anti-bullying policy in 2010 to include gender identity protections. The state policy requires school districts to pass and make public their own anti-bullying policies. East Aurora has a bullying policy in place, but has not yet updated the policy to include gender identity among its specific protections.</p><p>Shannon Sullivan of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance said Monday that her organization had worked with parents in East Aurora and with representatives of the district, namely Assistant Superintendent Christine Aird, for months before the policy on transgender students came before the school board. And she said the policy was reviewed by the district&#39;s legal counsel before the board first saw it in July.</p><p>She believes opposition to the policy was drummed up primarily by outsiders, and points out that the Southern Poverty Law Center formally classifies the IFI as a &ldquo;hate group.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;This [policy] did originate from a parent and child who were seeking better protections in the district,&rdquo; she said. The board&rsquo;s response, Sullivan added, was &ldquo;tremendously reactionary.&rdquo;</p><p>But board president Annette Johnson on Monday refuted accusations that the district caved to pressure from outside groups.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s not a question of are we backing down or being intimidated,&quot; she said. &quot;We are not. It&rsquo;s just...we have to try to make everybody happy.&quot; She said she received probably over 1,000 communications about the issue last week, and acknowledged that a majority &ndash; but not all&nbsp;&ndash; complaints came from non-residents.</p><p>She also said she did not know until last week that Assistant Superintendent Aird had worked with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to come up with the proposed policy. She and other board members believed the board was merely updating its policies to reflect state requirements on districts&#39; anti-bullying efforts. East Aurora has had an anti-bullying program in place for over a year.</p><p>Higgins, of the IFI, hailed the board&#39;s reversal in a follow-up <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/education/great-news-from-east-aurora-high-school/" target="_blank">blog post</a> on the group&#39;s website:</p><p>&quot;We have no way of knowing all the factors that influenced this decision, but we do know that silence accomplishes nothing.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/turnabout-east-aurora-school-board-tosses-out-transgender-protections-103300 Five days after passing transgender anti-discrimination rule, school board may rescind it http://www.wbez.org/news/five-days-after-passing-transgender-anti-discrimination-rule-school-board-may-rescind-it-103277 <p><p>The suburban East Aurora school board will meet Friday to vote on whether to drop a <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33042109">new transgender policy.</a></p><p>The policy, passed unanimously Monday, said transgender students can self-identify at school.</p><p>The new rule grants them the right to participate in sports, gym classes and use restrooms without harassment. It specifies that transgender and gender non-conforming students have <a href="https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=33024785">a right to privacy</a> about their identities, and calls on the school to reduce gender-segregated activities that would require such disclosure.</p><p>That got the attention of Laurie Higgins, a writer for the Illinois Family Institute, which directed hundreds of people to email the district this week to complain about the new policy.</p><p>Even though she hasn&rsquo;t read the policy, she still thinks it goes too far.&nbsp; &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going by the news reports,&rdquo; she said when asked about the new rule.</p><p>&ldquo;We have made this such an elastic and expansive definition of bullying as to render it meaningless,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>State law requires school districts to pass their own anti-bullying policies.</p><p>One chief of an Illinois LGBT advocacy group thinks the issue has been blown out of proportion.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s only been made controversial because organizations like the so-called Illinois Family Institute are really trying to apply pressure on the school board to rescind that policy,&rdquo; said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;Ironically, the tactics that they&rsquo;re using to get the school board to rescind its anti-bullying policy are very bullying-like tactics themselves,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Members of Equality Illinois plan to attend the 5:30 school board meeting on Friday evening to show their support for keeping the policy in place.</p><p>The East Aurora school district could not be reached for comment.</p><p><em>Update: The&nbsp;</em><em>School Board of&nbsp;</em><em>East Aurora voted unanimously to repeal the anti-bullying policy on Friday, Oct. 19. The board plans to discuss the issue again at its Nov. 5 meeting.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Oct 2012 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/five-days-after-passing-transgender-anti-discrimination-rule-school-board-may-rescind-it-103277 Survey: One in three CPS students are cyber bullied http://www.wbez.org/story/survey-one-three-cps-students-are-cyber-bullied-92410 <p><p>New statistics released on Friday shed light on how cyber bullying affects Chicago Public School students.</p><p>At the end of 2010, the non-profit group Mikva Challenge surveyed 700 CPS students. The data show one in three respondents admitted to being cyber bullied, while more than third say they have participated in cyber bullying.</p><p>Miriam Martinez, director of the student-run education council at Mikva Challenge, said teachers need help from parents to make sure students are aware of the repercussions that can come with social media.</p><p>“Parents, check what your child is doing at home. If they’re online or in front of a computer for hours, what are they doing?” said Martinez. “We’re not always checking up on that. Are they doing homework or are they on Facebook?”</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 22:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/survey-one-three-cps-students-are-cyber-bullied-92410 Bullying gets graphic in new novel http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/bullying-gets-graphic-new-novel <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/heart transplant resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to social worker Zak Mucha, it isn&rsquo;t enough to tell bullies to stop or victims that it will get better.<br /><br />Mucha works on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side where he&rsquo;s spent a lot of time working with people who have been bullied. Now, he&rsquo;s co-authored a graphic novel on the subject called &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Transplant-Andrew-Vachss/dp/1595825754">Heart Transplant</a>.&quot; Eight Forty-Eight spoke to Mucha about the new novel and the recent chatter surrounding bullying.</p><p>For more on the book and bullying, you can catch Zak in-person Wednesday evening at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/">The Book Cellar</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Square neighborhood.</p><p><em>Music Button: Eliot Lipp, &quot;The People&quot;, from the CD Tacoma Mockingbird, (Hefty)</em></p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 15:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/bullying-gets-graphic-new-novel