This morning, I read Phil Bildner's response to having his school visit cancelled. You can read it here. I found these lines particularly striking:
"Educators, administrators, school boards, and parents talk a lot about kindness and empathy. They talk about how to teach it and model it. But too often, when it comes to our LGBTQ students, it’s just talk.
That’s not acceptable. Because lives are at stake. Children’s lives are at stake.
When books are kept from kids because of close-minded and fear-driven adults, and when individuals are erased because of close-minded and fear-driven adults, what we’re really teaching and modeling is that people without empathy prevail, and that kindness only matters when it’s shown to certain people and defined by a loud few."
The school paid Bildner NOT to come. They honored his contract by paying him ,but did not allow him to speak to the students.
My mom and I took my daughter to see Frozen Jr. performed at our local middle school. I was astonished by the poise and talent of 6th, 7th and 8th graders. The young lady who played Elsa really belted out Let It Go, Frozen's anthem, with such spirit. It made me think more about the lyrics of the song and how Elsa feels so free to really be who she is after the many years of trying to "conceal, not feel".
Of course, this made me think of Phil Bildner and all the students who don't feel safe to be who they really are. Freedom comes from living your authentic truth. As educators, why can't we create spaces that allow every child to be who he/she is? To have representation in the books read and made available?
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski