Last week, my educational consulting took me to the mountains of Colorado to observe and make recommendations on a work study program in Allenspark. Thirty-five high school students came to live for ten day on a ranch . Each day they worked on the ranch and studied about Colorado history, rode horses, and reflected on how they could leave their mark on the world.
One night I heard from a chaperone that some harassment was going on with two brothers and one student who they thought might be gay. During one of the activities, one of the brothers made an insensitive gay comment. I turned to the older brother and said gently, "Please don't say things like that. I have a gay son and it hurts me when you talk like that." The big, burly student looked down at me and sincerely said, "I am sorry, Marsha." At the close of the activity, the facilitator praised students for their participation and also challenged them to be more compassionate supporters of their fellow students.
Later that night, the two brothers, who made the gay comment, were seen talking with the student they had been harassing. They were apologizing for their comments and explaining they meant no harm. Without direct prompting, these two boys had taken it upon themselves to be more caring and kind. I returned back to my room after hearing this story, my eyes filled with tears. Never underestimate the power of your words spoken with love and acceptance.
Each of us has the ability to change hearts and minds . . . . . . . .