This is a long post, so I warn you if you are of little attention span...
Last night I decided to watch Anderson Cooper 360 and I was drawn in by the story of Jayme Rodemeyer. Jayme was a 14 year old freshman from Buffalo, NY who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied over his sexual orientation. It hurt my heart to hear about this child, a boy no older than my youngest son, a child that felt that death was better than putting up with the taunts he had to face every day.
As the segment moved on, I was brought to outrage over comments I heard from Kentucky Republican Mike Harmon. Now, there was a bill in the Kentucky State House that expanded their already existent antibullying legislation to include bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, or disability. It was moving along as expected until Rep. Harmon added an amendment that would not "prohibit any student from expressing their personal religious beliefs as long as that expression does not include physically harming a student or damaging a student's property." This was then followed by another amendment from Rep. Tom Moore (R-Elizabethtown) that added "that nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit or deny the civil expression by any student of religiously based opinions on issues related to sexual orientation." Then Harmon went whole hog when he added an amendment to allow individuals with a concealed deadly weapon licence to be able to carry that weapon without limitation on any publically funded college. Well, you can well guess that the bill is now stalled in Appropriations.
Rep. Harmon was quoted as stating, "Someone just in conversation saying, well, you know, I think homosexuality is a sin. Well, we don't want that child to be bullied because they have a certain moral or religious belief. And we don't want -- certainly don't want them to be labeled a bully just because they have that particular belief."
So essentially what Represenatives Harmon and Moore are saying is that if a student calls out a homosexual (or I guess anyone that doesn't live up to their own religious beliefs) that they shouldn't be labeled a bully.
It's been also suggested that all these anti-bullying laws are a way for homosexuals to push their agenda....
Now I'm getting mad. I'm just going to say it. I don't care what your religion is. If your child is calling someone a faggot in the hallways, then they are a bully. If your child is calling someone evil or deviant or sinful, then they are a bully. If your child feels the need to belittle and demean a person because that person is different, then YOUR CHILD IS A BULLY and if you advocate it then YOU ARE A BULLY, TOO!
What else would be allowed if a child is given free reign because of their religious beliefs? A girl wearing pants (Deuteronomy 22:5)? A haircut (Leviticus 19:27)? Wearing polyester (Leviticus 19:19)? Where does it end? Look, this isn't about the LGBT community trying to push their agenda. It's about protecting our children. When I worked as a Youth Advocate for a local independent living center, we were fiercely trying to bring attention to the bullying of children with disabilities. We were faced with a lot of people who thought that bullying was a right of passage...a thing we all much go through, but I'm going to tell you all something...it's worst now than it was when we were kids.
I was bullied as a kid myself. I was bullied because of where I lived, I was bullied because of what car my mother drove, I was bullied for being poor, and I was bullied for how I looked. One day I remember was a day that I didn't bring a lunch because I wanted to lose weight due to being picked on for being chubby. A boy I had a crush on saw me sitting there and said, "Hey....are you not eating lunch because you're too poor to eat or so fat you want to lose weight?" Double burn...didn't like him anymore, but it hurt, but at least I could see the one that bullied me and after I looked him dead in the eye and told him to f*** himself, I moved on, but not all kids are like I was...not all kids speak out.
The difference between now and then is the advent of technology and our increasing lack of compassion and civility for one another. A child can be bullied anonymously through Facebook and Formspring. People can make wild accusations about a child and they cannot even defend themselves. In this day and age of cell phones, a child can be photographed and that photo sent to hundreds of people within minutes. Also, in this society, there is too much focus on what we look like and what we have, and children are made fun of and harrassed everyday for not having the latest electronic device or clothing line. Television shows that broadcast the worst of culture and society (I'm looking at you, Jersey Shore) teach our kids to be douche nozzles to each other. Worst of all, parents are just as bad, pretty much encouraging the behavior.
It needs to stop and all adults need to be concerned with the effects of bullying in society. ALL children should be protected from bullying. These same people that think that bullying should be allowed towards a LGBT teen or a pagan kid wearing a triple goddess pendant would be the first ones to cry if their little Johnny was harassed due to the cross around his neck.
One week before Jayme Rodemyer took his own life he posted this online:
"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen?"
It's time we accepted people for the diverse individuals that they are. School should be about learning...not a fashion show and not a church. We need to be better to each other and better examples to our children.