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Resource Guide

Name-Calling Lesson

This lesson relates to the following topics from the California State Framework for grades 7, 8, and 10:

  • Name-calling
  • Family diversity
  • Stereotypes of homosexuality


Students Will Be Able to:
  • Identify derogatory names.
  • Explain why name-calling is unacceptable.
  • Discuss common feelings connected to name-calling, both of the person being harassed as well as of the person doing the name-calling.
  • Understand how homophobic name-calling is the same as other types of name-calling.
  • Identify ways to support people who are victims of name-calling.
  • Understand how name-calling can escalate into physical violence.

Procedure - Day 1


  1. Show the segment of the video starting with "LYRIC is kind of a centerstone..." (NO PICTURE, SOUND ONLY) Continue through the conversations between Felicia and her dad. Stop after her father, Walter, talks about meeting Rachel.
  2. Discuss the students' observations. Have them profile all the people who spoke. Emphasize the importance of creating an image from just a few words. Replay the segment showing the visual images. Ask how their profiles differ from their observations. Explain that stereotypes occur when we label people and generalize about them based on characteristics.
  3. Explain that there are many reasons for calling others names: low self-esteem (including the fear of being different and of not being accepted), general feelings of frustration, the perceived need to feel superior. Name-calling minimizes the importance and existence of the other person. Ask students why they would do this.
  4. Ask how the students feel about LYRIC, the community center for gay and lesbian youth. Does it make them feel uncomfortable? Would they feel comfortable hanging out there? Ask how the gay teens feel when they spend most of their day around people who are homophobic. Identify any organizations that exclude minorities (eg., Boy Scouts, KKK).

Procedure - Day 2

Explain that this lesson is designed to teach students that schools should be a safe place for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability.

Begin lesson by having the class brainstorm a list of the most commonly heard slurs at school. Write them on the board, being careful to get a broad range of categories. If students do not volunteer a wide variety of slurs, ask them to list slurs used against particular groups of people. Use the following categories: race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, looks, ability, immigration status, age, sexual orientation. For example:

Name/Slur Used Feelings of Targeted Person
fatso ashamed/self-conscious
faggot embarrassed/outcast
nigger disrespected/dehumanized
wetback alienated/hated
dyke ostracized/self-conscious
snob rejected/scorned
gimp belittled/defenseless

Discuss how, regardless of category, all name-calling is hurtful and unacceptable.


  1. Cue video to where the older man says: "My poor father couldn't understand what was happening..." Show segment and stop at: "Not since the crackdown of the 1950s had San Francisco's gays been the targets of such hostility." Discuss the son's actions. Where did his hate come from? What made him want to pick fights?
  2. Fast forward to the scene that begins with Anita Bryant singing. Show segment through: "They took their cue from the civil rights movement. They gathered, and they marched." Discuss how this anti-homosexual movement helped fuel the fire of hatred and violence.
  3. Discuss stereotyping. Stereotypes result in misunderstandings of individual people. Because they are inaccurate portrayals, they are painful and attack a person's self-esteem. Ultimately, stereotypes result in prejudice and negative generalizations, which can lead to violence against the stereotyped group. Ask students how name-calling escalated into violence and destruction.


Ask students if they can relate any personal experiences where name-calling escalated from words into physical violence. Include experiences within the family, at school, during an athletic event, at a concert or party. Ask if they felt afraid, angry, inclined to fight. What could they have done to make the situation better or to have avoided it?

Divide students into groups and have them discuss the following questions. Have one student record the answers for the group.

  1. Why do people call others names?
  2. How does it feel when someone calls them names?
  3. What are some alternatives to name-calling?
  4. How can they help people who are victims of name-calling?

Share group answers to questions A and B. Write student responses to C and D to post in the classroom. (Answers might include: Don't call names at all; let people know how you are feeling instead of calling names; be supportive of victims of name-calling; ask an adult for help.) Refer to the list throughout the year, reinforcing how students can assist others who are victims of name-calling.