Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bullies and Guilt

If you can watch the above video without crying, I have serious doubts about your humanity.

I have talked a number of times over the last year about issues with gay rights, and more recently, about children and bullying in our society. I added my voice to the It Gets Better Project. I have talked about Ben Cohen leaving his longtime career in rugby to form the StandUp Foundation. I'm not alone in talking about these things, and the sad part is that I am not alone because the problem remains. On November 11th, a ten-year-old girl in a small town not far from my home hung herself. Ten years old. Words fail me. These are children we are talking about. Children who have done nothing wrong, and deserve so much better than the treatment they have received, and yet when they cry out, we do not listen. And we do not listen. And we do not listen.

And a ten-year-old hangs herself in her bedroom closet.

Are we listening yet? Are we talking about it yet? How many more will we have to lose before we wake up? Michigan passed a law that, on the face of it, looks like one that would work, but it doesn't. It protects any bullying that happens on the grounds of "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." Does anyone need me to spell out precisely how drastically this will fail to protect those who are bullied? Michigan wasn't listening.

I will freely admit that part of the reason this issue strikes so close to home for me is precisely the opposite of what some may think. As I said in my It Gets Better video, I didn't get bullied a lot, and I will point out that the majority of the bullying I did receive wasn't for being gay, but for being a nerd, and the weird kid. My younger brother got more flack for my being gay than I did. Am I somehow better than these children, that I deserved to be one of the lucky ones? I don't think so. The guilt I feel over it is incredible. How do you feel?

If you are reading this... If you are alive, and well, and whole, or even mostly whole, start listening. These kids need our help. Not the nebulous help of some other person, some other adult, some other friend, some other teacher. You. Me. We are all responsible, because we have the capability to be so. I cannot say it enough. If we don't help them, who will?