A Place in the Middle is the true story of Ho'onani, a remarkable eleven year old girl who dreams of leading the hula troupe at her inner-city Honolulu school. The only trouble is that the group is just for boys. She's fortunate that her teacher understands first-hand what it's like to be “in the middle” - the Native Hawaiian tradition of embracing both male and female spirit. As student and teacher prepare for a climactic end-of-year performance, together they set out to prove that what matters most is what’s inside a person’s heart and mind.
Janet Miller, a teacher at Hoover Middle School, was blown away by district-wide statistics that revealed the risk of violence that transgender youth experience. Moved by the statistics, Miller stated to her colleagues that it was their responsibility to create a safe learning environment for ALL students and that any type of discrimination should not be tolerated.
This lesson provides an opportunity for middle and high school students to understand the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, learn about how hate escalates, connect the understanding of the escalation of hate with Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.’s murders and consider what young people can do in their schools and communities to prevent hate crimes.