Students Stand Up For All of Us

Perhaps by now you have heard of the great impact a student group at Ohio University has had in sending a loud and clear message about insensitive and racist (not to mention sexist and classist) Halloween costumes.

Their series of PSA posters are moving and informative. Check them out here.

Earlier this week some of us in the Diversity and Equity Office shared our experiences with insensitive and racist Halloween costumes, including memories of flipping through a parents Saint Micheal’s College yearbook from 1975 and seeing students wearing white sheets dressed up as members of the KKK. This type of costume is still part of our lives, and as these Ohio University students suggest, should not be.

It feels good knowing that perhaps there will be more of an absence of costumes that are hurtful.  This leads to more people feeling safe and able to enjoy their surroundings, and this we all deserve!


“The Freedom to Choose Your Pronoun”

“What are your preferred gender pronouns (p.g.p)?” This question is beginning to pop up in meetings across the country. What is a P.G.P? The pronouns that a person chooses, for example: she and her.

““More students today than ever are thinking about what gender means and are using this language to get away from masculine and feminine gender assumptions,” said Eliza Byard,  executive director of Gay, Lesbian Straight Network.

For more information:

Read the full article, Freedom to Choose Your Pronoun.

Read Princess Boy: a mom’s story about a young boy who love to dress up,  for an exploration of gender in a beautiful picture book.

Attend the Translating Identity Conference at UVM this week, October 22nd beginning at 9am!  “Opening its doors to the public for the tenth time in nine years for the 2011 conference, the Translating Identity Conference (TIC) explores a wide array of topics in discourses regarding gender and transgender identities, expressions, communities, and intersections. TIC is a free, student organized, non-profit conference that seeks to reach not only the University of Vermont & the Burlington community, but the nation as a whole. A one-day event, TIC has numerous sessions to choose from at any time that are directed towards people at all levels of inclusion in the trans and allied communities. This conference is a safe space for everyone to come, learn, and enjoy themselves!”

Straight Talk About the N-Word

Fantastic article about the layered complexities of teaching the “n-word” in school.  Arizona State University Professor Neal A. Lest has taught two courses on the word and shares his insights in the Fall issue of Teaching Tolerance Magazine.

Two questions that came upwhile reading this were:

1.) Interviewer Sean Price asks: “Why is the n-word so popular with many young black kids today?” Professor Lester gracefully explains to Sean that this assumption is not true. It’s importnat for us to think about why this sentimenet might be popular.  If people are able to say, “Well it’s popular with young black kids” or “I hear black kids say it, so why can’t I?”  Does the perpetuation of this idea that it is popular with black youth somehow pave the way for others to use it?

2.) Professor Lester suggests that teachers work with a fellow African American community member in preparation to teach this topic.   In theory this is a great idea,  but in practice approaching a person to discuss this word and it’s history is a delicate matter which should be approached with compassion, patience, understanding, and respect.  The Diversity and Equity office is here if you have quetions about how to appaorach this initial conversation, or to brainstorm with you about teaching this topic in your class.

We love to hear from you! Please share with us and the BSD community any success you have found in facilitating class discussion and finding new places of insight with your students in regards to the n-word.

You too can receive Teaching Tolerance Magazine for free!  Sign up here.

Other articles of interest:


Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!

National Hispanic / Latino(a)  Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)

National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the culture, heritage, and contributions of Hispanic Americans each year. The event began in 1968 when Congress deemed the week including September 15 and 16 National Hispanic Heritage Week to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historic events: Independence Day, honoring the formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15, 1821), and Mexico’s Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control (September 16, 1810). It was not until 1988 that the event was expanded to month-long period, which includes El Dia de la Raza on October 12, which celebrates the influences of the people who came after Christopher Columbus and the multicultural, multiethnic society that evolved as a result; Chile’s Independence Day on September 18 (El Dieciocho); and Belize’s Independence Day on September 21. Each year a different theme for the month is selected and a poster is created to reflect that theme.

Helpful links:

Teacher Vision: Hispanic Heritage Resources for Teachers. Lesson plans, printables, activities, and references will enrich your classroom study. Read the book The House on Mango Street and Shadow of a Bull, learn about Mexico’s Day of the Dead, play mariachi music, practice Spanish vocabulary, discover the customs and traditions of Hispanic heritage, play Puerto-Rico’s circle game, create your own musical instruments, learn about the Spanish-language influence on English, and much more. Inspire your students to get excited about diversity!

Education World: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month! Activities and resources help teachers focus attention on the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to the history of the United States.

Children Reporting Harrasment

Thank you to our friends at the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity for providing this helping information!

What Should  Happen When Children Report Harrasment?

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Exploring Identity | Teaching Tolerance

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice: Exploring Identity | Teaching Tolerance.


What About Colorism?

Kiara Lee from Richmond, VA: an activist, filmmaker and author who is shedding light on the realities of discrimination within ethnic groups.” This video comes from Campus Progress and

They held a contest, “which called on young people to speak their minds about racial and social justice for a chance to win a free trip to Washington, DC, to address the attendees at the 2011 Campus Progress National Conference”.

This is the first of the three winning entries.