Sunday, October 17, 2010

Demand an End to Bullying

Anti-gay bullying has always been a huge problem in many schools around the globe.  Now the issue is getting headline coverage and attention due to several gay teenagers in the U.S. who have committed suicide because they were being continually harassed and bullied by classmates.  Nowadays the bullying doesn't end when a child leaves the school grounds, it follows them home through text messaging and online social media.

This is disgraceful and disgusting and we must demand an end to verbal and physical harassment.  That means parental involvement, putting pressure on school administrators to teach tolerance and acceptance.  Children must be taught that words such as "fag" and "queer" are demeaning and hurtful, and calling a gay person those words is just as unacceptable as calling a black person the "n" word.  It means kids who aren't being bullied, but who see or hear other kids getting bullied, must report the behavior to their teachers, and teachers must take swift action.  It means kids who are being bullied or harassed must not simply accept it.  It means not approving of and laughing along with our peers when demeaning jokes are told about gays and lesbians.

In the Philippines specifically, it means that public officials must be held accountable for the bigoted and unacceptable statements they make, such as the incredibly shameful COMELEC's 2009 statement that homosexuals are "immoral," "unseemly," "transgressive," and a "threat to the youth."  Or congressman Bienvenido Abante's many deplorable anti-gay statements.  Or the crass comments made by the MTRCB's Marissa LaGuardia.  When such public statements of intolerance and ignorance are made, and then allowed to stand without reprimand, it sends a message to the youth and the nation as a whole that it's okay to be prejudiced against gays and lesbians; that it's okay to chastise and mock them.

Such statements aren't just ignorant, they're also dangerous.  They give a tacit stamp of approval for bigotry, hate speech, and hate crimes, as well as imply that there is shame in being gay or lesbian.

Stopping intolerance and bullying means we all have to do our part -- gay, straight, bi, and trans alike.  It's no longer acceptable to simply say "well bullying happens... it's normal... kids will be kids... boys will be boys."  No.  Tormenting others simply because of the way they were born is absolutely unacceptable.

It will take everyone to help stamp out this disgraceful behavior, but especially the heterosexual community.  Let's all do our part to ensure the safety and dignity of all persons, from the schoolyard to the backyard.

As U.S. first lady Michelle Obama said, "Kids will follow our lead.  They will follow our example, but we've got to set it."

For more information, you can visit "Stop Bullying Now"


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