From Intolerance to Acceptance with Patience and a Whole Lot of In-Between – Guest Post by Tamara Bolotenko

My good friend Tamara Bolotenko (@TamaraBolotenko) has been doing some wonderful things at her new school this year and wanted to share some of it with all of you! She’s written this amazing post in honour of International Day to End Homophobia & Transphobia (May 17th, 2016) and has some great resources to share. Check it out!






These are words we hear on a daily basis. Words that, sadly, describe many current societies around the world; societies in which fear of the unknown and distrust of differences propagates hatred, incites violence, leads to oppression, and even translates into discriminatory government policies.






These are all words that we hear often as well, whether at work or in the media, words used to describe utopian societies in which individuals with different ethnicities, cultures, races, religious orientations, genders, sexual orientations, and other diversities characteristics and histories, live together in peace and harmony. And not only do they co-exist, but they also engage in positive interactions with one another on multiple levels many times a day, creating pluralistic communities.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 11.18.19 AMOne thing, however, that we do not often hear about, is how to get from a world of hatred to a world of peace. How does that shift from intolerance to acceptance occur? Well, the answer is not straightforward; several conditions have to be in place in order for it to be possible to create a pluralistic culture in which every member is accepted and valued precisely for those differences, that in many societies, are reviled.


Open-mindedness and Non-judgment.

People have to be ready and willing to learn about others’ ways of seeing and doing things, without judgment.

Listening and Sharing.

TBolotenko2People must be able to and willing to listen actively and to explain one’s own experiences in order to learn about other groups and in order to teach about themselves. They must be open to and desiring of engagement in positive and respectful dialogue. This is not to say that everyone must eventually agree on everything, rather that we learn to discuss feelings, rationales and thought processes without yelling or screaming or creating “winners” and “losers”. In the end, we should be able to gain another perspective and that makes everyone a winner.

Introspection and Improvement.

Here is where the process gets a little more active, as individuals will have to make time and space for self-reflection and make attempts to understand why they act in a certain way. The goal of introspection is to create a deeper understanding on oneself and others and oneself in relation to others in order to find ways in which to improve oneself. Everyone can improve at something. We are all works-in-progress.

Cognitive Dissonance.


Enduring those periods of confusion when preconceived notions about certain cultures, religions, genders, races, etc. don’t quite match up with the reality of one’s experiences is paramount. No one likes to feel confused and anxious and it is easy to throw in the towel at this stage and revert to prior stereotypes, but that just takes one back to a world of intolerance and prejudice. Stay here. Endure. Overcome.

Patience and Forgiveness.

Change doesn’t happen overnight and committing to an accepting, heterogeneous, pluralistic society is a lifetime commitment. Forgiving yourself when you’ve made an assumption and trying again is key. Forgiving others when they have made incorrect assumptions and having the patience to educate them is also what this process is all about.

In order to try to educate students about how to move from hatred to love, intolerance to acceptance, homogeneity to diversity, exclusion to inclusion, I’ve created a set of 3 posters depicting words associated with a hateful society, a society in-progress and a pluralistic society. Since FSL resources are sometimes hard to come by, I’ve translated them into French as well. Please use freely and share widely. I know that change doesn’t come with a couple of posters, but they are a good starting point for engaging in meaningful dialogue.

I’ve also created a set of 3 posters promoting safe spaces, inclusivity and harmony using the LGBQT flag as the background (in French too!).

Happy “International Day to End Homophobia and Transphobia”. On May 17th, how will you mark this important day with your students?

Here’s the shared folder containing all 12 of Tamara’s posters. 

FOLDER of Bilingual Posters by Tamara


I’d like to thank Tamara for being the first guest contributor to Mrs. Geek Chic! She’s an amazing teacher and friend, go follow her on Twitter I promise you she’ll be a great addition to your PLN!


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