Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I started being bullied in the 6th grade. I was called a “faggot” on a daily basis from 6th grade until I graduated High School. Classmates in my gym class used to pull their penises out of their underwear in the locker room, put them in my face, and [say very vulgar things], they would also put their naked buttocks in my face as well. All these things that happened to me on a daily basis made me NOT want to go to school at all!
I was so embarrassed, and scared to tell anyone what was happening to me. I did not even tell my own family and what little friends I had what was happening to me on a daily basis. I would skip school on a regular basis, and was in danger every year of being failed due to missing too many days, before I would skip school I would tell my Mom that I was sick so I didn’t have to go. When that didn’t work anymore I would just skip class/school to avoid the ongoing torment I faced at school. Many teachers heard the comments made to me, but they did nothing, one even laughed with the offenders. I felt there was nowhere for me to turn. Oddly enough I had not come out of the closet to anyone at this point, I was too scared to. I had no knowledge of the life of a gay male in NC, as I had no role models to turn to, and no information available on the subject. I ended up trying to be straight, you can probably figure out how that worked out. I was very unhappy with my life, and contemplated suicide on many occasions while attending school due to the everyday torture I went through.I hope that this information, as painful for me to write to you, makes a difference for a youth today. If this helps even one child it is worth it to me to share this story with you!
Saturday, April 4, 2009
This bullying continued into second grade. By then, the combination of bullying and mental illness got bad enough that I thought about suicide and how terrible my life was. I developed a habit of looking down at the ground so I would not see the kids bullying me, a habit even now in high school I have trouble with even though I am no longer being bullied. The bullying continued into third grade, although it did improve. I was put in a self-contained class which I started to make friends in and although I was still bullied it had improved a lot. Also, by third grade, I was no longer really depressed. The situation slowly improved over into fifth grade and after that bullying, for me, was no longer one of my bigger problems.
Special thanks to the Disabled Young People's Collective for gathering these stories.
Friday, April 3, 2009
At the very least, I felt the child who was name-calling should be told not to use that language any more and that she should apologize to my child. The teacher stated that she would speak with the principal as she wasn't sure how to handle it - she stated she would have him call me. Neither of these things happened - the child did not apologize to my child, the teacher told me later that she never addressed it with the child because "what's the point,"" and the principal never contacted me. Before the end of the year, I wrote a letter to the principal listing several concerns - and I included my concern about the name-calling incident. He did not contact me. However, I did see him in the office and he stated "I got your note." That was it...he got my note.
I later learned from my daughter that that was not the first time she had been called a "faggot" and other names by a small group of children in her class - it seems that it had just been happening more frequently, the teacher had not responded when she want to her for help, and she "just couldn't take it anymore."
That year, her second grade year, was very difficult...she was a very lonely child who hated going to school. In fact, she hated it so much that by the end of the year, she declared that she was never going to college and began to ask if high school was mandatory! I do not think that it was a coincidence - I strongly believe that she was completely demoralized by her peers and the name-calling. I believe that she lost confidence that her teacher could or would help her. I don't think the teacher was a bad person or that she didn't care about my daughter - I think she didn't know what to do.
The experience that my child had should not have happened - and it should not be repeated. Teachers need guidance and support to be able to address this kind of tormenting behavior - and a rule/law that allows for consistency in application of consequences.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Horrible news out of Ohio, and yet another tragic example of why clearly defined bullying policies are absolutely necessary to protect children from violence. Eric Mohat, 17, was tormented so much that his parents believe it drove him to kill himself.
"...when one bully said publicly in class "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you," he did.
Now his parents, William and Janis Mohat of Mentor, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying that their son endured name-calling, teasing, constant pushing and shoving and hitting in front of school officials who should have protected him.
The lawsuit -- filed March 27, alleges that the quiet but likable boy, who was involved in theater and music, was called "gay," "fag," "queer" and "homo" and often in front of his teachers. Most of the harassment took place in math class and the teacher -- an athletic coach -- was accused of failing to protect the boy.
"When you lose a child like this it destroys you in ways you can't even describe," Eric Mohat's father told ABCNews.com."
For the rest of the heartbreaking article, please click here.
Ohio is all-too-similar to North Carolina in that it has no statewide anti-bullying policy with enumerated categories. Our friends at Equality Ohio have this to say about their state policy and the similar struggle they've had with getting this legislation passed:
Ohio does not have a broad law to prevent school bullying. Ohio also does not have a law preventing discrimination in education based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2006 the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 276 that required the 723 school districts across Ohio to develop anti-bullying policies on their own. This bill was signed into law without the need for enumerated categories of protection. Equality Ohio and a coalition of organizations testified before the Ohio Senate Committee on Education to try to include these important protections.
Eric committed suicide in 2007. Just three months after his death, his high school adopted an anti-bullying policy with enumerated categories (including sexual orientation), which we found in their Parent/Teacher Handbook. If Ohio, or Eric's school district, had taken precautionary steps to protect him and millions of other students from this sort of targeted bullying, it is possible Eric might still be alive.
Shouldn't North Carolina adopt this kind of effective policy before another student kills himself or snaps and shoots classmates?
While our coalition is working very hard on getting this legislation passed, there are things you can do in the meantime - as parents, friends, educators, or administrators - to learn more about how to effectively help victims of bullying at SafeYouth.org.
Our hearts go out to the Mohat family, and all victims of bullying, and we commend the Mohat family for using this tragedy to draw attention to this serious problem in our schools and to create more effective legislation regarding school anti-bullying policies.
We urge you to contact your legislators to make sure that they support the School Violence Prevention Act (House Bill #548 / Senate Bill #526). You can look up your legislators and email them here.
Special thanks to the Disabled Young People's Collective for gathering stories for this blog.