Since it seems unlikely that in the near future the widespread abuse of GLBT students will disappear, what is a young person to do? Over many years my clients and I have come up with a number of strategies for responding to verbal bullying. There is no one right response for all situations, therefore I always recommend becoming familiar with all of them so as to have the greatest number of options.Be Powerfully Silent
Bullies attack people in order to get a reaction, therefore refusing to give them the type of response they are seeking is a way of standing up to them. By being silence I don't mean looking at the floor in humiliation, but rather making full eye contact with the bully while remaining silent, thereby sending the message to the bully and to other people witnessing the event, "Your remarks aren't worthy of a verbal response."
For most people, the kind of insulting remarks about African-Americans that used to be common are no longer acceptable, but we have not yet reached that point when it comes to insulting remarks concerning GLBT persons. GLBT students and their allies can send the message that name-calling is unacceptable by expressing surprise that there is still someone who would make such ignorant and hurtful remarks.
"Wow, what century are we in? I thought that kind of thinking died out during the last century, along with racism and sexism."
"Wow, that certainly was a rude thing to say."
"How unfortunate that hatred and prejudice continues to exist in some people's minds."
On the television program, Colombo , the main character was a seemingly inept police detective that showed up to crime scenes in a rumpled trench coat with the stub of a cigar. He would convince suspects that he was completely incompetent by playing dumb, but then would solve the case, usually by asking one last question as he made for the door. He wasn't afraid to appear as if he were a bungling idiot because he knew he wasn't. GLBT students can utilize this same technique in response to bullies-when insulted play dumb.
"I don't understand what you mean; I'm not familiar with this term f_ggot ."
"I'm not clear how you are trying to help me with that statement."
"Would you say that more slowly, I'm not sure I heard you correctly?"
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