These things happen daily at schools everywhere: Boys inappropriately touching girls in the hallway. Often it’s bumping or brushing up against unexpecting and unwilling recipients, but sometimes it’s more overt. In class, a student who gets frustrated by another, might angrily blurt out “you’re a fag!”. Other students might exclaim “don’t be gay!” Any conversation about gender or biology at any point is greeted by nervous laughter and dismissive “jokes.”
On any given day, this is all before lunch.
Welcome to middle school, where being called gay is one of the worst things that can happen and where human biology is something to be ridiculed for and embarrassed by. Much of the rest of the day may be spent figuring out what consequences are appropriate for any of these situations and, of course, trying to figure out what else is going on in these volatile lives to prompt these behaviors and keep them out of further downward spiral.
How do students (at any school) learn in this environment? How do gay and lesbian students concentrate on anything except their own safety in this environment? How does anyone in schools concentrate on content with all this going on in the background? How does anybody survive adolescence?