WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS CELEBRATE NO NAME-CALLING WEEK?
GLSEN Research continues to highlight the prevalence of biased language, name-calling, and bullying in
U.S. schools. In one GLSEN study of school climate, elementary school students and teachers reported
frequent use of disparaging remarks like “that’s so gay” in their schools and classrooms.1 GLSEN’s
National School Climate Survey reports on students’ experiences of being verbally or physically harassed
because of their appearance or body type, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race/ethnicity,
religion, and disability. Overall, victimization based on appearance or body size was by far the most
commonly reported type of bias-related victimization. It’s important to note that LGBTQ students more
frequently experienced sexual harassment, having rumors/lies spread about them, property damage, and
cyberbullying than their non-LGBTQ peers.2 It is clear that name-calling in schools is a problem.
There are a variety of reasons why educators organize and implement a No Name-Calling Week (NNCW) in
their school. It can be used for prevention as much as it can be useful as an intervention. Some see NNCW
as an opportunity for a midpoint of the school year reminder for students about expectations for respectful
behaviors while others utilize the week to build upon school-wide efforts to create a yearlong climate
of respect. Still, others find NNCW an effective overall strategy for addressing specific school-based
issues related to respect. In order to gain the maximum benefits of NNCW, it is important for educators to
recognize the intent they have for organizing the week in their school. As such, those thinking of planning a
local NNCW should follow the tips and steps described below.
KNOW YOUR SCHOOL AND YOUR STUDENTS
What concerns exist in your school around issues of name-calling, bullying, and bias? Begin the planning
process by engaging your colleagues in conversations to share observations of student behaviors and
language and student attitudes around difference while identifying school practices that may promote
these (either positively or negatively), or that may fail to address them. Consider answering the following
nnWhat types of harmful language do we hear students use in our school?
nnWhat do educators in our school do when students use such harmful language?
nnHow do educators in our school use such moments as opportunities for learning?
nnDo students know what to do when such moments take place?
nnDo students in our school know about and apply intervention behaviors when others are called
nnAre students being taught about their identities and words that they want to use to describe
nnAre students being supported in choosing their own names and pronouns, and are those decisions
nnIn what ways do we model respectful behaviors and language for students?
Using GLSEN’s Local School Climate Survey (www.glsen.org/lscs) can provide additional data for you and
your colleagues to use as you develop a plan. The survey is also a great way for students to begin to think
about the issues themselves and the results can even be used as a math lesson on data!