Embracing the Spectrum

Social Awareness

Family Resources on Embracing the Spectrum

Lesson Topic

Students discuss what it means to embrace a spectrum model of sexual orientation.

Essential Question

How can embracing a spectrum model of sexual orientation create a more inclusive and compassionate environment?

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Embracing the Spectrum – Marvin

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed issues of gender identity and how negative stereotypes can lead to isolating and bullying behavior. In class students discussed societal stereotypes based on gender and sexual orientation. Students participated in a “human barometer” activity helping students become aware of implicit biases about gender or sexual orientation and discussed how these biases are often used to harm others.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

The video for this module features Marvin who was a target of bullying through much of his school career and at one point he considered suicide. Marvin bluntly discusses the various ways he was taunted and targeted along with the pain that these experiences caused.

Conversation notes:
Discussing bullying behavior and suicide are very difficult, but these issues continue to affect younger and younger students. In Marvin’s situation, he was targeted at different ages and in different schools.

Please note that when discussing issues of bullying it is helpful not to use the terms “victim” and “bully”. A person should not be defined by these learned behaviors. Instead, when discussing bullying we recommend using terms such as “targeted by bullying behaviors” and “participating in bullying behaviors” to focus on the behavior, not the person as a whole.

US Department of Health and Human Services Stop Bullying website on bullying and LGBTQI+ youth:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention LGBTQI+ resource page (including parent resources):

The Trevor Project Resource page regarding bulling and suicide risk among LGBTQI+ youth:

Constructive Conversation Starters

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

Describe why you think Marvin was targeted for bullying behavior. What are some of the things Marvin says about his experiences? Why do you think it is important for everyone to hear stories like Marvin’s? What can be done to prevent others from having to endure experiences like Marvin’s?

Why do you think that some people use gender identity or sexual orientation as an excuse to harass or target someone for bullying? What actions should you take if you witness someone being targeted or harassed?

What is the connection between bullying behavior and suicide? If unsure, spend some time researching this issue and discuss it again.

Are there adolescents in the neighborhood or community who are targeted by bullying behavior? What are some things that you/we can do to stop this activity? Why will your ideas be effective?

School to Home Resources on Embracing the Spectrum

Lesson Plan

Verbal harassment is extremely harmful

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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 Marvin say the verbal harassment was even worse than being thrown in a dumpster? How do you think verbal bullying can be more harmful than physical abuse?

Effects of bullying

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Marvin says, “it starts to mess with your mind, you start believing all the things that they’re calling you; you believe that you’re less than human, and you believe that you’re not worth living”. He then tells about his suicide attempt. How did Marvin work through his pain? Why do you think his actions could be so powerful and helpful to him?

Many experience harmful experiences

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Craig is another gay teenager whose experiences are different than Marvin’s. He says, “somebody has a bad idea or something, ‘awe dude, that’s so gay’… most of the people who do that and say that … they accidentally say it around me-I’ll like turn to them and they will say ‘oh I’m sorry’, at least it means it wasn’t purposely gay bashing”. Why do you think Craig differentiates between these common negative comments and gay bashing? Even though Craig appears to be much more accepted in his school than Marvin, he still experiences harassment. What actions could be taken by all students to help students like Craig and Marvin live with less (or no) bullying?

Embrace differences

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Dr. Jennifer Kelly and Michael Prudent offer concrete examples of how to discuss homosexuality with adolescents and children. Both advocate talking to children at a young age about being accepting of others who have different types of family structures and relationships than a common nuclear family. Why do you think that both emphasize other aspects of intimate relationships than sexual activity? Dr. Kelly says, “the world is changing, you may not want to accept it but if you teach those same kinds of values to your children, then they may have more difficulty adjusting”. Why do you think Dr. Kelly provides this advice?

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