Bias, discrimination, harassment and bullying based on weight and size are prevalent in our schools, yet rarely discussed. The National Education Association’s (NEA) report on size discrimination concluded, “For fat students, the school experience is one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant harassment. From nursery school through college, fat students experience ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in three overweight females and one in four overweight males report being teased by peers at school, and peers regard obese children as undesirable playmates who are “lazy, stupid, ugly, mean and unhappy.” Studies also show that a young person’s appearance, including weight bias, is the number one identity category for bullying.
In addition to bullying and harassment by fellow students, research shows that bias can be exhibited in the actions and attitudes of teachers and school health care professionals as well.
This lesson will provide an opportunity for students to discuss and define weight bias, identify stereotypes about overweight and obese people and explore what can be done about weight bias in their classroom, school and society at large.