Bullying/Suicides...... Don't Shut Up!
For some reason I have hesitated to blog about the continued bullying in our schools and the suicides of so many of our children. I suspect that I was a little ahead of The Advocate's current article suggesting that so much media attention to the suicides of gay youth may actually contribute to it. In other words, the victimized teenagers suddenly consider the "solution" of suicide because they're seeing it played up in the media. I have spoken to more than a few teenage boys who have experienced bullying, and I was able to get their candid feelings. Not all of the boys were gay. One had red hair! The red haired boy gave me the best background for what I am writing now.
I believe it goes without saying that we don't generally consider that a boy with red hair is going to be the object of bullying. But talking to Red, I learned that he had been given a rough time all through grammar school and high school. I've also learned that this is one of the physical characteristics which will incite bullying-- along with height, weight, skin color, ethnicity. Now, Red explained very carefully that he was picked on and ridiculed, but that it never approximated the abuse that the gay (or perceived gay) boys endured most often with teachers and school administrators looking the other way. Of course, the physical education teachers seemed to be the ringleaders for most of it.
Even a subject of this magnitude can bring up unbelievable facts. Your blogger, RJ, attended Catholic schools for twelve years and was never bulleyed. Looking back, I cannot understand how that happened. I was the sixth grader who told all the other kids on the schoolbus to keep quiet so that Sister didn't get a bad report from the driver. I was the seventh grader who hiked the football to thr wrong team, causing total chaos and convulsive laughters from all the other boys. I was also the eighth grader who hit a home run (no one was more amazed that I) and then argued with the Christian Brother that I didn't see why I had to run around to all the bases if the ball was already over the fence in the woods. I happened to have been madly in love with him at the tme, but he told me that I had better move my ass around those bases or he would be behind me kicking me every step of the way.
Bullying, in some form or other, continues to rear its ugly head. We still have young people who slowly but surely begin to believe that they are worthless and evil-- better off dead. The major point in case now is Viki Knox and her husband and her pastor approving Ms.Knox's alleged Facebook statements against the celebration of GLBT History Month at Union High School. It's a sensitive issue of free speech being sanctioned by Ms. Knox to express her view that people who are GLBT are "the enemy....translated loosely as demonic and evil.
What does this say to the gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender child living in fear of coming out? What does it say when a church leader adds his approval to the verbal bullying of these children? Ironically, Ms. Knox should be made aware that the free speech she demands as a right is responsible for what's on many websites attacking Ms. Knox and those of her racial background. White supremist groups are still operating with their freedom of speech.
Have you readers heard any sermons/homilies against bullying and against gay-related hatred? I hope you have, but I fear that many have not because our churches have often become the boiling pots for the hatred. Genuinely stupid people believe that they are acting in the name of God. Oh, it's based on ignorance, but that doesn't change the wrong messages or the silence attributed to the bible AND THE SUFFERING AND DEATH CAUSED BY THE RHETORIC.
If you would like to attend an afternoon video and discussion against bullying, you are invited to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in South Plainfield on November 6th at 3 pm. Thanks to the leadership and caring of Father John Alvarado and Sister Kathleen Rooney, this event will come to fruition. All are welcome.
If your church, temple or school is planning anything similar, write to us here at NJGayLife and share the news. But, by no means keep your mouths shut when we still have this menacing problem which can be attacked with words! This is not the time for silence when our youth is at such high risk.