The Winslow High School Civil Rights Team Project has been working to address bias in our school and community. Our mission is to increase the awareness of bias-motivated behaviors and harassment in schools.

The week of Jan. 20, students were involved in No Name-Calling Week, created to help bring attention to name calling and bullying.

Research conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network continues to report biased language in U.S. schools. During a study of school climate, teachers reported hearing “retard” and “that’s so gay” in their schools and classrooms. Students reported hearing others in their school making negative or offensive remarks about the perceived or actual appearance, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race/ethnicity, disability or religion of classmates.

The Civil Rights Team Project encourages everyone to help put a stop to bias and bullying. Parents should talk with and listen to their children every day. Children who feel comfortable talking to their parents before they are involved in a negative situation are more likely to get their parents involved after.

Parents also should be a good example for their children. When adults get angry, they should model effective communication techniques, and they should not use or allow name calling directed at siblings or friends. Starting as young as possible, children should be coached on both what not to do (push, tease, be mean) to others as well as what to do (be kind, empathize, take turns).

Parents should teach children what to do if they experience bias-related behaviors (get an adult, say “stop,” walk away, ignore). Parents should clearly explain what bias is and that it’s not acceptable to participate in bias, to be biased against, or to stand by while someone else experiences bias.

We hope No Name-Calling Week will bring awareness and acceptance to everyone.

Ellen Tello and Stephanie Oliphant, advisersWinslow High School Civil Rights Team Project