Every student has a choice when it comes to bullying
By: Lyndsey D’Arcangelo
When you are in high school, everything seems to matter so much — from wearing the right clothes to hanging around with the right friends and from getting the right grades to getting accepted to the right college. The need to fit in and be accepted is felt by every single student regardless of race, sexuality, social status or physical appearance. Even “popular” kids feel the need to fit it, which is exactly the reason why some students choose to participate in bullying. I use the word “choose” because every student has a choice not to participate. They can choose to be above bullying. They can choose to reach out and support other students rather than to turn a blind eye or cut them down. But unfortunately, some students don’t have the courage or fortitude to make the right choice.
And the consequences can be deadly.
I struggle to understand how one student can push another unsuspecting student down the stairs, kick his books aside and kick him when he tries to get up—all for a good laugh. That is exactly what happened to 13-year-old Asher Brown, after a group of other students found out he was gay. When he got home from school that afternoon, Brown died by suicide.
Bullying has become an epidemic in this country, especially for gay students. In the past week alone, there have been five GLBT teen suicides that were the result of excessive bullying. The pressure to get good grades and do well in school is hard enough to deal with by itself. But when you add in the pressure to fit in and be accepted by your schoolmates, it can become an unbearable task. This is the task that GLBT students face every single day. Those who are lucky enough to attend schools that have Gay-Straight Alliance and other GLBT-support groups can find the support they need. But the number of schools without a support network for GLBT teens is much greater, and there are thousands of students who struggle every day to find acceptance.
High school and college are just small little blips on the radar screen of life. It’s a moment, a flash and in an instant, it’s gone. It’s important for all students, gay and straight, to realize that the clothes you wear, the gender you love, or the grades you get in school do not define you. But you are defined by the strength of your character, and the choices you choose to make when it comes to bullying. If you are a student who is getting bullied, or you have witnessed another student who has been bullied, know that you have the ability to do something about it. You don’t have to stand by and watch it happen, and you don’t have to deal with it alone.
The following resources are available. Make the choice to use them.
• Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” Project http://www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject#p/f/0/7IcVyvg2Qlo
• Stop Bullying Now!
• Bullies to Buddies
• Stand Up Day
• International Bullying Prevention Association
~ Lyndsey D’Arcangelo
GLBT Student Stress Expert, Campus Calm™