An Appeal for Hope

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The research compiled by the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University in San Marcos is heartbreaking: since 2004, at least six Texas teens have been so tormented by bullying and  abuse at school that they have taken their own lives. Another attempted suicide by jumping from a  two-and-a-half-story balcony.

Some of the students were gay or lesbian (or perceived to be their tormentors). Others weren’t. One Rockdale student shot herself after constant bullying over her weight and physical appearance. A transgender teen from the same town hung herself just the next month. A high school student in Cleburne, harassed repeatedly because of facial scars and a hearing impairment, was reportedly told: “If I had a face like yours, I’d shoot myself.” He went home and did just that.

Today more and more adults are standing up to say, “Enough.” They are calling on lawmakers to pass anti-bullying legislation that helps protect all children from this abuse. And they are appealing to young people — gay and straight — to keep the hope that life gets better. We were especially moved by this video of an openly gay Fort Worth City Council member, Joel Burns, speaking at a council meeting earlier this week.

Religious-right groups continue to oppose legislation that would help protect young people from bullying and abuse. They claim such legislation “promotes homosexuality” to kids.

Some elected officials even encourage schools to stigmatize gay and lesbian children. In 2004, Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, insisted that middle school health textbooks portray gay people as “more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.” Fortunately, textbook publishers refused to obey her demand. This year, when state board members revised social studies curriculum standards, another board member — Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands — bizarrely interpreted a particular standard for the high school sociology course as somehow promoting homosexuality and transgenderism. She succeeded in removing the standard.

Texas children deserve far better than politicians promoting their own divisive personal agendas instead of ensuring that schools provide a sound education and protect their students from abuse.

6 Responses to “An Appeal for Hope”

  1. David Says:

    It’s obvious that kids are picking up on the attitudes of the the adults in their lives and are reflecting the values they’re being taught.
    The bullying is coming from the parents and teachers in their lives.

  2. David Says:

    I’m David with Equality Across America Texas Regional Network, and we’re doing a vigil next Wednesday at 6:30 at Austin City Hall. It would be wonderful to have a representative from TFN speak. We are also talking to Equality Texas and Representative Mark Strama’s office about speaking. We should have speakers from several of our co-sponsors as follows: Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, ALLGO a Queer People of Color Organization, Equality Across America-Texas, Equality Now @ A.C.C., Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, Give a Damn Campaign, Gay Straight Alliance Network of Texas, Metropolitan Community Church, OutYouth, OutCast Radio, Q-Austin, Texas Civil Rights Project of Austin, Transgender Education Network of Texas, and the Trevor Project.

  3. Charles Says:

    I bet they call them thar thangs “valyahs” down y’alls way.

  4. SpaceEagle Says:

    About half of the parents of the bullies deserve to be in jail for teaching this kind of hatred. It’s absolutely wrong.

  5. Keanus Says:

    Evangelicals like Terri Leo will always object to any action aimed at stopping bullying for one simple reason—evangelizing is bullying which is central their faith. Without bullying they lose membership. It’s that simple.

  6. Cytocop CT(ASCP) Says:

    Yes, it’s true David, bullying originates from the kids’ parents. I’m not sure about the teachers though because kids aren’t in the homes of their teachers to hear what their teachers say in private; they are in the homes of their parents and hear what their parents say in private. And they hear their parents’ preachers.

    It was hard to listen to Mr. Burns’ remarks because he dredged up so many unhappy memories for me. I’m not gay but I was bullied and harassed as a pre-teen and young teen. Not only was I bullied, I was assaulted. I wrote about it in another conversation a few pages ago, and I described why I was bullied.

    I am so troubled by the two Columbine High students who shot their fellow students. Of course, for the horror and unjustness of their act! But also a tiny part of me sees myself in them. They had been bullied to a greater or lesser extent. Had things been a little different in my life, had I had access to weapons, and had I been more aggressive, more prone to violence than I was, I could have been them. I might have harmed myself, true. But likewise, I could have gone off on my tormenters the same way the two young men did. That fact terrifies me.

    Some bullied people say that their bullies later apologized to them, in most cases decades later. That’s why I put myself on Facebook. I was hoping to connect with long-lost friends, sure. But again, there was a tiny part of me that wondered if someone from my unhappy past might apologize to me. I have yet to have that experience. Actually, I don’t expect to ever have it. Most bullies never acknowledge they ever bullied anyone, and a lot of them were bullied themselves and that’s why they became bullies. They’re waiting for someone to apologize to THEM.

    To get back on-topic: RE: “Religious-right groups continue to oppose legislation that would help protect young people from bullying and abuse. They claim such legislation “promotes homosexuality” to kids.”

    It’s obvious. Their ultimate goal is to promote bullying. That’s been religious-right wing m.o. for centuries.

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