As the nation gradually heads back to school, it’s important to remember that the problem of bullying is still a major issue for many students. Last year saw an unprecedented number of kids commit suicide because they were bullied due to their real or perceived sexual orientation. Given the endorsement of anti-gay discrimination that came from the Boy Scouts, more bullies may feel empowered to act out their aggressions. Studies show that LGBT teens are still more harassed and depressed than their straight peers and violence against the LGBT community is up overall.
Fortunately, many are raising their voices against this tide, pushing for schools and communities to shut down bullying of any kind once and for all. In the past year or so, a number of voices have been raised against bullying: the It Gets Better project, a wonderful comic book called The Power Within, and families of victims have all made a difference. Two other wonderful efforts deserve our attention.
My friend and colleague Alison drew my attention to an important new film, Teach Your Children Well. Directed by Gary Takesian and narrated by Lily Tomlin, this documentary short consists of many important facts and interviews that demonstrate the ongoing problem of bullying.
The film’s primary goal is to bring homophobia and its harmful repercussions to light, and to hopefully effect a change in society’s consciousness such that the bullying and violence against our LGBT young people is greatly reduced – and ultimately eliminated. It is our intention that the message of this film expands beyond theaters and film festivals, reaching into the areas where these aggressive behaviors take place: our schools, homes and neighborhoods.
Regular TSM reader and commenter Daphiny drew my attention to this wonderful story. Kevin Curwick, a Minnesota teen, has responded to the problem of cyberbullying by creating a special Twitter account. @OsseoNiceThings celebrates accomplishments and positive qualities of Curwick’s classmates. Using social media to emphasize the good and drown out the negative has caught on, with many students around the nation creating similar accounts as Kevin’s story spreads.
These are important steps. We must all continue to shine a harsh light on the realities of bullying and not allow schools to fall back on the “kids being kids” excuse. Until our communities are safe for all, they are safe for none.