Working with sexually degrading language, attitudes and bad culture in a classroom environment

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Using genital words, degrading language, and sexual orientation jeeringly creates an unhealthy classroom environment. Some may feel excluded and harassed, or the slang could be adapted and accepted as normal. Both have negative consequences for building respect and the correct attitude toward each other. This use of language can, in many cases, lead to physical touches that cross personal boundaries, for instance feeling up breasts, slapping the butt, etc.

It is important to have a common understanding of this and how to manage it between the staff. Ensuring the parents and pupils have the same understanding needs to be worked on over time.

Other professional advice:

  • Teach boys and girls separately. A male teacher should talk to the boys to avoid accusations of “feminist propaganda” or “prudishness”. Be aware that not everyone will feel exposed or shy by the behvaiour discussed. This should all be in addition to combined lectures where the goal is a common understanding of the subject and obligation to behave properly.

  • Give the class a common understanding of the subject, discuss “how do we want our class to be” and make a set of rules for use of language and physical touching.

  • Hold a parent-teacher conference for all parents and inform them of how you have approached the subject in class, and what rules for use of language and physical touching the pupils have compiled. Encourage the parents to also focus on the subject at home.

  • Contact other agencies for cooperation, e.g. the Child Welfare Service for counselling and assessment of the class environment, and the Educational Psychological Counselling Service (PPT) for assessment of pupils and work with systemic change.