I saw three important letters in today's Johnson City Press. The paper had requested letters about bullying. Kudos to the JC Press for raising awareness about this important issue. You will find them at the end of this post.
In related matters...
"Make It Better" is the theme of More Light Sunday, coming up this Sunday, June 5th.
This will be a big Sunday for us, complete with great music and litanies of celebration for LGBTQ folks, kith and kin, straight and gay alike.
We will follow the service by enjoying some of Snad's rainbow cupcakes! I will show some videos from the Make It Better Project and the It Gets Better video project.
I will also share information about our new Gay-Straight Alliance for the Tri-Cities, The Change.
Oh, and if you are going to the Blue Plum this weekend, make sure you stop by the PFLAG booth!!
This is why we exist. Here are the three letters of people who shared their experience of being bullied.
Parents and teachers play a big role in stopping bullies
I am responding to the topic on bullying. I have two sons — one is a fourth grader and the other one is a sixth grader. They were victims of bullies. They chose not to tell me about it until weeks later. They were displaying disruptive and other unacceptable behaviors at home. I talked with both of them and they finally broke down and told me about it.
I can understand as children get older they are expected to be able to handle some problems on their own. I know because I expect the same out of my own boys. I also understand that they may not know how to completely solve problems with their peers. That’s where parents need to try to step up and have a good foundation of communication with their children. Let them talk about good things and this can help open doors about the bad things they may be experiencing. Teachers should try to do the same thing.
Teachers should also try to be more aware of what is going on in the classroom and what is being talked about by the children. Times that should be more closely monitored are when the children are going to other classes, lunch time and outside time because this is when bullying is more likely to occur. Parents and teachers should look for signs of changes in the children’s behavior. I realize this can be hard at times, but I guarantee that if a child does something terrifically bad and gets into trouble people will notice.
Bullying should not be happening. All children no matter their age need to know they are safe. They also need to know they have someone they can go talk to when they have something that is important to talk about whether it is good news or bad news.
Hurt lasts a lifetime
I am an 86-year-old woman and I was bullied horribly when I was 7 or 8 years old. Three or four girls would chase me to the end of the sidewalk from the Harold McCormick School, which sat on the hillside at that time. I had to walk the rest of the way to my rural home. While the girls were chasing me, boys would hide in a ditch along the way and utter indecent proposals to me. I remember the name of the leader of the pack to this day. I got my Christmas tam grabbed and went home crying. I never told my parents as in those days we were expected to take care of ourselves.
Bullying can be very intimidating and can make for a miserable and scary life.
As a school child, I was bullied unmercifully through out my elementary, junior high and high school years. I was bullied in elementary school because I was perceived to be gay or different from my peers. I knew I was different from everyone else, but didn’t know what it was called. I remember I was 12 when I heard the word “gay” and what it meant. I was terrified.
In junior high, I was bullied for the perception of being gay. By this point I knew I was gay but hadn’t come out of the closet. In high school, I was bullied for being gay because I had come out of the closet. The bullying was so intense at times that I had attempted suicide while I was in high school. I recovered and went back to school only to endure more bullying.
If it weren’t for a supporting family, wonderful school counselor and my favorite teacher, Mrs. Simone, I don’t think that I would have survived the rest of my high school years. I was able to talk to them about things that were bothering me and got the emotional support I needed to tolerate the bullying. They were my best advocates in helping me combat the bullying.
After I graduated, a Gay/Straight Alliance was started at my high school in Brunswick, Ga. Now, with the House’s passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill here in Tennessee, it would be a crime if a teacher, school counselor or school official even utters the word “gay.” Who will the bullied students be able to turn to at school?
Sensitivity training starts with the parents, but doesn’t stop there. Bullied students need multiple sources of support and soon, otherwise we will hear of more kids taking their lives. Is that the kind of blood you want on your hands?
BRUCE HERBERTSON III