1st-grader ds just asked me last night what "gay" meant!
My husband works out of Cambridge (he is the cable guy) he sees it ALL. Although as a die hard republican he has a HARD time with the overly liberal he encounters but it mostly the politic. My parents have taken Liam and my neice to provincetown so think its safe to say they have seen just about all.
But live in liberal land so our experience is much different. That said its not perfect, we still have issues for kids that are different or preceived different. I guess I naivly thought Liam going to school with no majority as far as race his own differences would seem less. If at least 1/3 of the kids he started school are ESL you would think someone having nasally speech would so apparent if many kids speak with different accents but alas he is still picked on. Turns out no matter how different everyone is its still kids own insecurities about their differences that cause them to drawn attention to others.
We were the first state to honor gay marriage but its not a walk in the park. Kids are still singled out in school for being gay. There are still ethnic issues and so on but compared to where we came from. There are some less honorable things from our past here. Desgragation of our city schools put us in the public eye in a BAD way in the 70s and those scares still run deep. Even when I was in school in the 90s we had our share of racial issues. Now main difference I see from when I was in school from Liam is has always been exposed to diversity but even 1 city over where my sister kids go its not the same. Growing up I was singled out for being Jewish but while Liam maybe the only Jewish kid in class most years he is not the only non Catholic like I was, but in my sisters town its still like it was when we were growing up. Liam's school teaches diversity because they HAVE to. It would be like ignoring the big elephant in the room but not every district here has the same experience.
One thing they do all have is they MUST now have a bullying policy and most include the name calling in it. They teach words hurt but since Liam was born with a birth defect that affects his face I have always had a different approach to it. There is a term for cleft lip from back in the day and people get so offended by it and there is a call to ban it, well that doesn't change things. Words give people power. A bully will use a word that they know upsets you...you know the old sticks and stones thing....I always say own the word and it cannot hurt you. Yes some people use words out of ignorance they don't know bettter so yes still teach using words like gay is wrong but if you are gay and proud of who you are own it make that word yours and no one can hurt you with it. If they are using it to hurt if they don't get a reaction it didn't work. You can't earse words from existance but you can take the stigma from them. I wish schools would teach that more then just don't use that word...