Taunting/bullying re sexuality in primary school

(16 Posts)
Aspergallus Sun 01-Nov-20 13:28:39

Hi,

Wondering how most people would expect this to be dealt with at primary school. Scotland, age 9, primary 5 level.

My son is in a small friendship group. Another boy in the group calls my son “gay” now and again. Not using gay as a slur/to be generally pejorative, but to mean homosexual (according to my son). Perhaps escalating a bit recently with my son being referred to as “gay boy”.

We’ve chatted to DS about it. He’s a sensitive, thoughtful boy...perhaps stands out as being quite geeky, cerebral...he has a very academic way of looking at it and says, “I don’t think I’m gay but I don’t know, I probably won’t know until I’ve been through puberty, or maybe when I’m 18”. Probably because we’ve always said partner or girlfriend/boyfriend when chats about the future come up. He also has an older cousin, now 18 who has openly talked about working out his sexuality (has Aspergers and a degree of asexuality probably contributed to his openly discussed confusion).

We’ve chatted about the phenomenon of using gay as a slur “that’s so gay”etc and made sure my son knows this isn’t ok, in case this is part of what’s going on. We’ve agreed that whether he is gay or not isn’t the issue here, but that someone is using this to taunt him.

It is a small, very rural school with only 5 boys in my son’s age/peer group.

I don’t think the kid that is doing this is generally badly behaved. He’s a nice kid, who my son considers a friend. They’ve been playing Minecraft via Xbox live through the pandemic.

I’ve thought about mentioning it to the boys mum, but she’d be mortified. And doing that kind of means I’m missing both sides of the story. So I’m thinking I just hand this to the school to deal with -they’ll have a wider overview and can maybe speak to all the kids about it rather than singling one out?

Grateful for thoughts and some idea how I should expect the school to deal with it.

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Murmurur Sun 01-Nov-20 16:03:57

Yes 100% I would mention this to school. Let them decide how to tackle it. It could be at any level from whole class down to individuals.

My daughter's experience was it wasn't at all about telling the other child off, but coming from a place of assuming they didn't know any better and educating them. It was very effective. It's also really important that your son feels listened to and taken seriously. Having adults say "I believe you and that is not ok" is a really key part of it.

Shizzleshizshiz Sun 01-Nov-20 17:35:14

I went through a similar thing but I was much older - 16-18 and a group of girls and boys in my sixth form thought I was a lesbian. I was unknowingly autistic and very late to develop an interest in sex and relationships. I was not interested in either sex in that way. (I am actually heterosexual but if asexual had been a well known label back then I probably would have thought I was that). They were not exactly bullying me or using it as an insult, but it was not said in a nice way either. I think they thought I really was a lesbian, and looking back on it I wish I'd said "so what if I am?" But at the time I just felt very embarrassed.

I think it's good your son talks to you about it, I never told my mum and doubt I would have if I'd been younger. It sounds like he's got a good relationship with you and a sensible head on his shoulders. Speaking to the class teacher is what I'd do I think, but I don't know how they would handle it.

Aspergallus Sun 01-Nov-20 20:04:35

Thank you both. Really helpful points of view.

I think the part of it that made me think twice and ask here was the feeling that disciplining this kid isnt quite right and knowing my son would be uncomfortable with this too.

What you said about education and not knowing better, @Murmurur, is spot on and I think once I've explained that to DS - that it's about making sure his peers know it's not ok (like he does) rather than getting someone in trouble, he will be comfortable with that too.

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Aspergallus Sun 01-Nov-20 20:08:21

@Shizzleshizshiz sorry you had such a hard time. "So what if I am?" is the response we should all make to this kind of nonsense...but so hard as a kid, isnt it? Especially a self conscious teen.

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sleepyhead Sun 01-Nov-20 20:12:38

Tell the school. I would expect them to come down on this very firmly, not even necessarily in terms of your son as an individual (although of course that's important), but in terms of this child routinely using homophobic language to bully.

They should have zero tolerance for this, and I would expect them to involve the parents as he's got the idea that this is acceptable language from somewhere.

sleepyhead Sun 01-Nov-20 20:17:25

And your son's attitude is great btw, what we should all aspire to - I hope my ds's would react similarly.

However, it does need to be dealt with, because the next boy may not be so resilient, plus letting this sort of thing go builds a culture of what's seen as acceptable and continues the idea that being gay is remarkable or lesser.

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Aspergallus Sun 01-Nov-20 20:27:23

Thanks @sleepyhead. That confirms my feelings. A lot of what we've discussed is along the lines it being unacceptable because 1) our sexuality is no one's business but ours, 2) using it to name call or taunt suggests that some sexualities are lesser, and that's not ok.

I do think it needs stopped now.

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Aspergallus Sun 01-Nov-20 20:30:09

@sleepyhead and thanks for your kind comments re my DS's attitude. You know it's just really irritating that he has really absorbed our attitudes to equality and diversity (you should hear him on Women's Rights) and then he has to go and experience this.

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SJaneS48 Mon 02-Nov-20 13:25:22

@Aspergallus, we’ve been through something similar. My eldest daughter (26) is LGBT and came out at age 15. We lived in a small, rural village and I was completely appalled by the name calling. Her secondary school did little to help and this is something that as a parent I feel really strongly about.

Youngest DD (now 12) came to me when she was in Year 6 at Primary. Having grown up with an older sister with girlfriends, she’s pretty au fait with people being different. She’d been playing a game with some of the boys in which if you lost, you were ‘gay’. She felt uncomfortable with it. In this day and age it’s really sad that ‘gay’ is associated by primary kids as being a looser, different etc so I spoke to the Head. She was sympathetic and the boys involved were spoken to but the game still continued.

I have also spoken with the mother of a boy who shares the same school bus in the mornings as youngest DD as he was taunting other kids on the bus that they were ‘gay’. His mother (who I knew) was quite sympathetic but pretty much swept it under the carpet as something boys do and it being pretty harmless. He hasn’t stopped calling people gay though!

My own experience of escalating things with both a school and a parent have been pretty ineffectual in making any change unfortunately. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t yourself try though! I’ve directly seen the affect this name calling has on someone who is not confident and it really hurt eldest DD. If gay children grow up thinking that being gay is something that is weak, weird etc then we still have a problem.We’ve managed to eradicate racist naming calling mostly from the playground but homophobic name calling is still alive and well.

I would speak to the Head not the teacher I think. It’s not going to be possible now what with Covid restrictions but I believe Stonewall have an education department that come out to speak to schools. I know it’s something at Primary level teachers aren’t 100% comfortable addressing in terms of being age appropriate but unfortunately this is where it starts!

OnTheBenchOfDoom Mon 02-Nov-20 18:53:58

School have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for all children from bullying and belittling which is what this behaviour is.

School should deal with it very sensitively. It is classed as hate speech so the sooner the boy knows this the better. It may well be done as an assembly or as a class talk, or as a one on one, the school will know they best way to approach this but please do tell the school.

Your son sounds amazing!

Aspergallus Wed 04-Nov-20 18:37:56

@OnTheBenchOfDoom

Thank you. I agree, it is potentially serious despite the presumed naivity of the kid doing it.

So...I’m a bit surprised to have had no reply to my email to the class teacher yet. Sent on Sunday night.

I’m going to give it till Friday.

I’m checking with my son every day if anything else has been said -so far no, so it is possible that someone has had a word. But I still think someone should be at least acknowledging my email.

At the end of the week I’ll go to the HT.

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solidaritea Wed 04-Nov-20 18:44:30

Aspergallus

*@OnTheBenchOfDoom*

Thank you. I agree, it is potentially serious despite the presumed naivity of the kid doing it.

So...I’m a bit surprised to have had no reply to my email to the class teacher yet. Sent on Sunday night.

I’m going to give it till Friday.

I’m checking with my son every day if anything else has been said -so far no, so it is possible that someone has had a word. But I still think someone should be at least acknowledging my email.

At the end of the week I’ll go to the HT.

Why not start by emailing the teacher again to check they've received the email and if they've acted on it?

Aspergallus Wed 04-Nov-20 19:33:26

@OnTheBenchOfDoom

I concluded my email with something like, “i realise that you might not wish to tell me exactly how this is being dealt with, but I would appreciate a response to confirm that there is a plan in place”...but I’ll send another brief message to gently nudge. Thanks.

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solidaritea Wed 04-Nov-20 19:46:04

Fair enough. I do hope you get this dealt with appropriately. Addressing it at this age could make a huge difference once they get to secondary.

It sounds like you're doing a fabulous job raising your young man, by the way!

Aspergallus Thu 12-Nov-20 19:57:27

Just an update...so teacher has never got back to me directly but she did have a chat with my DS. She seems to have told him that she'd like to deal with it "live" rather than as something that happened a few days or weeks ago. So he understands that he has to tell her when the name calling happens (or the next morning if it happens at an afterschool activity they both attend). I think that is ok as the initial step...I think he will actually do that...

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