Today, April 19, 2013, is the Day of Silence. In order to illustrate the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) students, people around the country are taking a vow of silence. I learned about the movement from this post by Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom. Instead of being silent today, I’d rather speak out.
I was not bullied as a child. Thank goodness, because I was painfully shy and insecure. I don’t know if I could have handled that.
Did I see bullying of kids who were “different?” My first thought was no. I had come to regard bullying as a more modern issue, probably because of the prevalence it gets in the media today. But looking back, I do remember some instances of a select few kids in high school who were treated horribly. Bullied. Every day. Not for something they did, but just for a presumption of them being different. Was it an LGBT thing? I’m not sure. Does that even matter?
It bothers me how the word “bullied” is thrown around today. While on a luxury vacation to Costa Rica, Alexis Bellino on RHOC gets confronted by her friends for implying that she is not really as rich as she claims. Later, Alexis states that the women “bullied her.” Kelly Bensimon of RHONY also cried bullying when she felt ganged up on by her friends (also while on a fabulous vacation). Ladies, that is not bullying.
When a gay teen is treated so horribly at school that he considers suicide as his way out, THAT is being bullied. The story of that elderly bus monitor being harassed by kids on the bus? THAT was bullying.
According to the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network), 90% of LGBT students have experienced harassment at school. One third of these kids have missed school for fear of their personal safety.
Silly me, I thought that our society was growing more accepting as the years went on. Not less.
Now that I’m a mom, this issue impacts me on an even greater level. I want my children to have a loving, fun, happy childhood. I want them to see school as a place where they go to learn and be with their friends. Not a place where it’s open season on the kids who are deemed “different.”
So what can we do? That is the struggle I have, because I really don’t know. But one thing I do know is that I won’t stay silent anymore. I am acknowledging today that this is a serious issue facing our children. If I see bullying in a school, on my street, or in the park, I’m going to say something. Even if I look like some overbearing mom who should be minding my own business.
I’m also going to raise my children to treat everyone, no matter what their sexual orientation, with respect and kindness.
Because ALL CHILDREN DESERVE ACCEPTANCE.
Heck, all PEOPLE deserve acceptance. Stop the hate.
To learn more about the Day of Silence, click here.