Blog post

Boy Dancers and Bullying: How to Make Schools Safe

Dana Fetterly (Teacher)

All kids have special skills and talents. Some can sing, some can dance, some can make a flower with their tongue, and some can do all of that all at the same time! I believe that all kids need opportunities to showcase their talents in a safe and trusting environment. As a teacher, it is my job to model respect and support. In my classroom, students have multiple opportunities to showcase their unique personalities. The V.I.P. program is one example where my students, as the very important person for one week, have the opportunity to present about themselves to their peers, showcase any talents, and bring in special items to share from home.

During his V.I.P. week, Greg asked to be able to dance in the classroom. He wanted to share his amazing passion and talent with his peers. We cleared the class, made a stage and Greg quite simply stole the show! The kids were incredibly impressed by his wonderful talent.

Being the V.I.P. was just one way for a child, like Greg, to be able to share about themselves. I believe it is very important that all kids feel they have something wonderful and special inside them. Being able to share in a safe and trusting environment helps everyone to learn to be tolerant, demonstrate acceptance, and respect diversity.

Kim Kendall (Mom)

Greg joined his first dance class when he was four years old, and over the years he has added many different dance styles to his repertoire. In most of Greg's dance classes, he is the only male dancer. I realised that I would need to be proactive in helping Greg navigate his way through being the only boy in most of his dance classes, as well as possibly being the only boy in his school who dances.

In my career, I work with children who have developmental delays and one of the things that I have learnt is that it helps to educate children about other people's differences. This normalises the gaps and allows children to understand that it's okay to be different

In both grade three and four Greg was blessed to have Mrs Fetterly for his teacher. Both years every student was the V.I.P for one week. In grade four Mrs Fetterly allowed me to bring in the motorbike that Greg was using as a prop for his solo that year.

This added an extra cool factor to his dance. After Greg danced, Mrs Fetterly lead a class discussion, and I remember her telling the kids how skilled Greg must be to do all the things that he did in his dances. She allowed time for the children to ask questions and give compliments. I believe that these opportunities to showcase his talents in a positive, safe environment helped Greg feel confident in letting the kids at school know that he dances.

Greg Kendall

When it was my turn to be V.I.P. of the week, my mom suggested that I ask my teacher if I could perform one of my dances. As I had my turn halfway through the year, I felt very comfortable doing this. Mrs Fetterly had made our classroom a safe place to be ourselves, and we knew we would be encouraged by the people in our class. It was a cool experience getting to dance in front of my classmates. Since this time, I've had opportunities to be a part of my middle school's musicals where I was able to dance in front of my whole school. I believe the opportunities I had in grade three and four to showcase my dance skills helped me to feel comfortable letting the people at school know that I am a dancer.