Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Sticks & Stones

The idiom of "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is so far from the truth for anyone who has ever experienced bullying, child or adult, it's like an added slap in the face to act as if it's not a serious matter to be dealt with.  People can be mean and hateful and they aren't always aware of how detrimental their words can be to the person they are directed towards.

This is why having dichotomous views about anything can be so harmful.  It creates this mentality that there is a right and wrong way, a good and bad; the right race, the right sex,  the right way to look or dress, the right sexual orientation, and anything else is wrong or abnormal and has to be accepted.  While I'm very aware that discrimination comes in many forms, today I will focus on discrimination based on one's sexual orientation. 

I got home from a very long day yesterday, after taking the GRE, I read that the country was given great news yesterday morning that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of the military has been repealed!  Finally!  If we can ask people to serve for this country and fight for our freedoms, they too deserve the same rights and freedoms and shouldn't have to fight for acceptance for being who they are. 

And then the reality of what it means to grow up in a world where acceptance and tolerance of all is not what everyone feels and that hate crimes continue to occur, more and more in the younger generation of non-heterosexuals, another suicide of a teenager who was bullied was reported on Jezebel.  Words do hurt! And not everyone who partakes in bullying even acknowledges they are doing just that.  A bully isn't just the tough guy who instills fear into you by being aggressive in every action he takes, bullying is more subtle and at times brushed aside with some of the most unhelpful advice like, "just ignore them; if they know they aren't getting to you, then they will stop."  Bullying are the comments of "that's so gay" (using any word that someone identifies with as derogatory implies there is something unacceptable about it).

The school claims they did all they could to help Jayme, but did they?  Why is counseling the person who is getting harassed the answer?  Why not hold an awareness, acceptance, & tolerance assembly?  You can't force kids to utilize counseling services provided by a school, however, you can require attendance at an assembly.  Why not educate the school, students and staff, about varying backgrounds/preferences and break the "good vs bad" mentality?  I know that bullying and harassment is not something that is easily dealt with, the victims often feel that if they do tell, it could only get worse.  But it gets better!

This is a safe place for all! Have you experienced bullying?  What else do you think can be done to create community and acceptance for all? Comment below or email me

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