Leland Michael/Facebook

When a student asked Leland Schipper about the shirt he was wearing, a gray t-shirt with a rainbow Iowa design on it, it opened up an opportunity to teach the class a valuable lesson.


Upon seeing the shirt, one student said to Leland:

"Mr. Schipper, I thought you were straight."

When he confirmed that he was, the student was confused why he would be wearing a rainbow shirt. What if someone thought he was gay?

Schipper's response is pure gold, and an excellent example of good allyship:

"They might...so what?"

A straight man being thought to be gay wasn't a bad thing—not something to be immediately or violently denied. He made the point that what others think of your sexuality is ultimately unimportant.

Leland went on to discuss his thoughts on the link between homophobia and unhealthy masculinity.

"I'm convinced the root of unhealthy masculinity is homophobia, and that becomes entrenched in middle and early high school years."
"Homophobia only ends if straight allies model to young kids, boys in particular, that being called gay isn't an inherently negative thing and doesn't require a defensive response."
"It's difficult to do, but if we take the homophobia out of schools, we not only improve the lives of LGTBQ+ youth, but all kids who fear being labeled as gay by their peers."

You can read Schipper's whole post below:


Schipper has focused on homophobia and toxic masculinity in his lessons in the past, too.

He wrote about one such lesson on Facebook (content warning: linked post contains a picture that includes anti-LGBT slurs in a teaching context).

"I am running another seminar this week addressing masculinity with a group of twenty 15-year-old young men. Yesterday we created this man box which represents what they think society expects men to be."
"These are their uncensored ideas, and the words around the outside are the words they hear their peers most frequently use if a male is 'stepping outside the man box' (i.e. showing emotions, asking for help, getting good grades, not wanting to have sex)."
"It becomes immediately clear through talking to boys and young men, the single most powerful thing that keeps boys inside the man box is homophobia."

The kids Schipper works with realize that a lot of their drive to avoid being seen showing emotion or doing other things considered un-manly is the desire to avoid being called gay.

They just don't always know what to do about it.

"They are all keenly aware that the fear of being labeled gay is one of the biggest road blocks preventing them from feeling comfortable stepping outside of the man box."

The boys in Schipper's lesson were ready to make a change.

They were:

"able to be deeply empathetic and reflective on how they accidentally perpetuate homophobia through their words and actions."
"We discussed how homophobia effects their openly gay peers, their questioning peers, and even straight males who feel pressure to prescribe to the strict rules of the man box."

Most importantly, after talking about the problem, the students were ready to commit to change.

"We ended with an agreement that they would all take a tiny step towards being LGBTQ+ Allies by focusing 100% on not using a single one of the man-box hate words for the rest of the day."

Change isn't easy, and mistakes will be made, but the boys' desire to be better was real.

"In my last block, one of the kids who had committed earlier that morning slipped up. He called another kid gay for not giving him his pencil back."
"He immediately made eye contact with me and said, 'It's hard Mr. Schipper, I know I said it, I'm sorry.' All I said was, 'At least you heard it, so now try again tomorrow.'"

The best part of this encounter was the student going on to explain the interaction to his classmates. He told them why his comment was wrong, about Schipper's lesson and why he was trying to be better.

The response to Leland's posts was overwhelmingly positive.

Amanda Moreno/Facebook


Dana Emmons Hutchins/Facebook

Many appreciated his efforts to make the world a better place.

David Peters/Facebook


David Thayne Martin/Facebook


Jessica Emerson Bingham/Facebook

This is all anyone can do—try to be better.

Mistakes will happen, but it is through efforts like this to de-stigmatize the LGBTQ+ community that everyone benefits.

Find your own rainbow state flag t-shirt here, and wear it proudly!

Image by ANURAG1112 from Pixabay

Any engaged couple looks forward to the big day when after months of planning, they get to tie the knot and declare their love in front of family and friends.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Sometimes I think back to a teacher I had when I was a kid who demanded to know whether any of us were "raised in a barn" in response to crappy behavior. Namely littering. She hated littering. Can you blame her? It's a horrible habit and some people do it with no sense of shame. She dedicated much of her time to telling students to pick up after themselves and dispose of things properly. For that, I'm thankful.

But why didn't anyone else get the memo? The trash I see on the streets is obscene.

People had lots of thoughts to share after Redditor SneakyStriedker876 asked the online community,

"What seemingly uncivilized thing is commonplace in society?"
Keep reading... Show less
Image by Cucu Petronela from Pixabay

I love presents. I try to hide my enthusiasm, and I do my best to appease the greater public by saying "it's the thought that counts." But that is a WHOLE lie. I don't just love gifts, I love great gifts. And if you go rogue from my lists, please keep a receipt. It's just plain rude to divert from what the recipient has requested.

This thought process has emerged from experience. I have received some trash presents over the years and now I'm too old to pretend you just went crazy while shopping. Like... "do you even know me?!"

Redditor u/sulemannkhann wanted to hear all about the presents some of us have received that we prayed, came with a receipt, by asking:

What's the worst birthday gift you ever got?
Keep reading... Show less
Image by Pawel86 from Pixabay

I'm still on the fence about this whole extraterrestrial situation. I need more proof. Now I'm not naive enough to think that in this vast, endless universe only the human race exists. I just need proof, tangible, solid, didn't see it from my trailer through beer goggles proof.

I also need proof about the afterlife, another out there topic. Truth be told, I've never been that into this whole conversation. I've got enough daily problems on this planet, let alone worrying about making Will Smith's biggest hits into documentaries and not just popcorn/comedy space farce.

But let's compare thoughts...

Redditor u/ValencikHannibal197 wanted to discuss life beyond this planet, what do we really think? They asked:

What's the best theory on UFOs or aliens you've ever heard??
Keep reading... Show less