Supportive Letters

Social Awareness

Family Resources on Supportive Letters

Lesson Topic

Students create acrostic poems that demonstrate the power of being an ally.

Essential Question

How can YOU help to control sexual and gender-based harassment in our community?

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Supportive Letters – Marvin

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students learned about the results of physical and verbally bullying. In class students discussed the effects of bullying behavior and how being targeted for bullying behavior can lead to many serious consequences including considering suicide. Students completed a writing assignment called “Supportive Letters” in which they wrote a letter of support to a student who has been the target of bullying behavior.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

The video for this module features a high school aged student named Marvin. Marvin has been targeted for bullying behaviors for most of his school career. He discusses his experience being bullied many times both physically and verbally; he also discusses that he attempted suicide because of painful experiences he endured. Marvin took control of the situation by writing an article for a youth magazine about his experiences, which has been a part of a healing process for him.

Note: While many people may find it difficult to discuss mature issues focused bullying behaviors and suicide, these issues are serious problems for youth of middle school age. These conversations may be difficult, but they are necessary.

Conversation Starters and Practice at Home

The first item is for follow-up after viewing the lesson video and participating in class activities.

What were some of the reactions to Marvin’s story in your class? Why do you think Marvin’s story is so important to discuss?

Do you know of anyone (including yourself) who has been frequently targeted by bullying behaviors? If so, what actions can you take? Why should you?

Are the bullying prevention programs at your school adequate? Why or why not? Are there additional actions that are necessary?

Who are the people (adults) who can help with serious problems? Why are these the best people for your support?

School to Home Resources on Supportive Letters

Lesson Plan

Words can hurt

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Marvin says “I have been beaten up, chased down, thrown in dumpsters, but of course none of it was really as bad as the verbal harassment”. Why does he say that the harassing comments were worse than being assaulted? How are words powerful enough to cause harm?

Bullying so common it seemed normal

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After describing bullying incidents Marvin says, “I thought it was all normal, I thought that’s what every kid goes through, [be]cause I was so young I didn’t know any better-that was life”. Describe how you think Marvin felt about going to school? School may not always be fun, but what kind of positive experiences should students have? How was Marvin’s experience different from what he should have experienced in school?

Other forms of harassment

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Craig is another gay teenager whose experiences are different than Marvin’s. He says, “it’s almost always from somebody’s car, somebody yells out…there’s no purpose for that word except to use to hurt people…it just reminds you that this is what most of the world is like”. Why is the name he was called so hurtful? How is Craig’s experiences similar to Marvin? How could you discourage someone you know from gay bashing?

Respecting everyone

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Watch these two videos by Dr. Jennifer Kelly and Michael Prudent. Dr. Kelly says, “you have to be tolerant and accept people who have different lifestyles”. Some people have been taught that family living arrangements that are different from their own are wrong. Why is it important to be respectful of others, even those with a different family structure? What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make fun of or harass someone for having a family structure that is different from others in the community?

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