The Telling Hug by Susan A. Haid, Founder, Peace Out Project

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Last week I was teaching a chapter from the Peace Out Project to a classroom of upper elementary school children. For those of you who don’t know about the Peace Out Project, this is a peace promotion, bully prevention program.

The chapter I was teaching is entitled “True Heart”, and this chapter gives the facts about the extreme abuse that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender youth experience on a day-to-day basis.  It tells the truth about the isolation, deep despair and desperation these kids feel.

The kids in my class, as always, were truly compassionate about the topic. There was no giggling, joking or awkwardness. They were totally cool with the entire presentation, and actually, had a lot to add about respect and sensitivity towards GLBT peers and classmates. So awesome.

After the chapter was complete, one boy ran up to me, wrapped his thin arms tightly around my waist and hugged me with the abandon of a soul newly unleashed. I was surprised, to say the least, but I didn’t really know why I was gifted with such a spontaneous show of sincere appreciation.  I gladly accepted the gift and gratefully returned the hug.

Days later, this child remarked, “I never heard anyone say it was OK to be gay before.”

Humph.

I’m now treated regularly to wonderful hugs from my dear little friend.  To witness the change in his self-worth is what is so tremendously gratifying and what the Peace Out Project is all about.   I believe this child now sleeps better at night than ever before because he knows that his dad is more than OK, his dad is perfectly beautiful.  I’m sleeping pretty good too.

The kids in this class understand how important the concepts of acceptance and compassion are.   But for them, these are more than “concepts”.  Just ask them, and they’ll tell you all you need to know.  And, you’ll also see what brilliant, open-hearted teachers they are.  You can’t help but get the message.

After all, doesn’t a hug ever so simply say it all?

For more information about the Peace Out Project, visit www.peaceoutproject.com.

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