Today in My History
2001: Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ye
2002: Taxi Cab Wars
2003: I Don't Know Why I Swallowed a Fly
2004: How DARE They!
2005: Measure X
2006: Between the Lines
2007: Portals of the Past
2008: Blog Action Day
2009: When Fantasy Touches Reality
Books Read in 2010
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YOU BIG BULLY
15 October 2010
Before reading this entry, I hope people will take the 12 minutes that it takes to watch this moving video.
It was made by Ft. Worth city councilman Joel Burns, reaching out to GLBT teens who are being bullied, to let them know that however bad it is, it will get better. My simple explanation does not give you the power of this message and you must watch it...especially the part that he dares not read -- still -- because he doesn't want his parents to know, all these years later.
A lot of people in the GLBT community are making videos like this, in the wake of the rash of teen suicides by kids who have just had it and can't take it any more. Tim Gunn also has a very moving video where he describes his suicide attempt at age 17.
Burns lists four other teens, bullied for being gay or who are perceived to be gay, who committed suicide in the past month.
- Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head with his father's gun
after years of bullying for being gay.
While each of these tragic events is appalling, is it any wonder that high school bullies seem to see nothing wrong with torturing a student whom they think may be gay? Every day our government tells them, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, that gay people aren't as good as non-gay people. They can't serve in the military, they can't marry. They are "different." And bullies pounce on people they see as different.
The idea for this entry began to germinate when I read of the death of 15 year old Sladjana Vidovic of Mentor, Ohio, recently immigrated from Bosnia, who was bulled for two years. She jumped from bedroom window. At her funeral, her bullies laughed at her in her as she lay in her coffin.
A recent immigrant from Ireland, Phoebe Prince, 15, of Massachusetts, hung herself after being bullied for being different.
Where did kids learn that it's OK to bully someone who is "different"? Rodgers and Hammerstein nailed it years ago, in South Pacific
You've got to be taught
When little children learn from their parents that some people are not OK, whether because they are foreign-born, or gay, or because they worship in the wrong religious building, or they look funny or talk funny children grow up thinking they are better than those people and that it must be OK to give them a hard time about it.
When schools turn a blind eye to what is going on, kids have tacit approval to continue to harass and bully.
Shows like Glee seem to accept bullying as a normal thing. All those choir kids get routinely hit with cups of liquid and you never see the principal addressing the problem. Yes, it's a fictitional show, but in reading reports of the latest teen to be bullied to death you hear over and over again how school authorities did little to nothing to stop it, when parents report it, and seem to have turned a blind eye to what was going on under their very noses.
Steve wrote a song that tells the true story of a gay Arkansas high school student who was bullied, and what his mother did about it:
William was a boy in Arkansas
So they called him a fag
Williams mom got in her car
She said, "Where does it say
He said "Its Williams fault
So she sued the Board
There were TV crews
And the boys will have to act like men
And bigots everywhere will start to fall
One would hope that with all the reporting of the tragic deaths of young people in pain because of the words and actions of others, things might begin to improve. But when girls can stand at the coffin of a young woman whose death they caused, I despair of anything changing anytime soon.
[Read this for a powerful first-person account by my friend Kel Munger, who writes for a local newspaper.]
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