Allies vs. Bullies
What can you do to stem the tide of bullying?
By Julie Gillis, 9:00AM, Wed. Sep. 29, 2010
Editor's note: The heartbreaking story of Houston-area teen Asher Brown inspires our new blogger Julie to explore how allies can help address the issue of bullying in schools. It's a fine launch for Gay Place's first Hump (Our Allies) Day Wednesday feature
series. – kxm
This is a very sad, angry-making story, about a teen in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD who committed suicide after being bullied. But it's important to see because I don't think any child should be bullied, and I hope you would agree.
No one should be bullied for any reason, and certainly not to the point where suicide seems to be the best or only option to make the bullying stop. This is not the only recent suicide related to bullying in the news lately. Billy Lucas of Indiana also killed himself after being bullied at school.
Bullying has got to stop, but just as importantly, the attitude of "kids will be kids" needs to be SRSLY examined; "It's something I can't do anything about/that doesn't affect me " is just plain not true. Teachers and administrators need to hear from all of us and get it that none of us, queer or straight, parents or child-free alike, want our community's children treated like this. All of us have to find ways to add voices of respect and support for teens who are coming out and to tell school districts that we won't stand for bullying, abuse, or hate speech in our schools.
So. What to do, right?
Dan Savage, for one, has launched the It Gets Better project, a YouTube channel to reach out to LGBTQ youth. That's an amazing thing, and while the channel focuses on the voices of queer adults, I think that allies can offer similar support in many ways. Forward the link to friends. Post it on Facebook and Twitter. Start conversations about it, and if you have kids, start talking to them early about how bullying is wrong. Equality Texas has immediate ways to get information on their legislation. In Austin, you can get involved with your local ISD's Student Health Advisory Council, contact the Texas Freedom Network, or get involved as a volunteer (if you are a parent) on the PTA with your local school. If you aren't a parent or even if you are, donate or consider volunteering with OutYouth. It even can be as simple as just getting to know kids in your neighborhoods, listening to them, believing them, and letting them know you hear them. All of us can do that.