For some kids, going to school is like going into a war zone. For those children, who have a severe and deadly result, the only thing required is perception of being “different.”
This article explores the daily life of children subjected to bullying and those who are bullies themselves. Some of the stories end in tragedy, some in the realization there is a better way for everyone to learn how to conduct themselves. If we cannot teach our children the benefits of compassion, we should not expect to have a society of adults, which co-exist in harmony for the betterment of the world.
The Ad Council has launched a campaign of Gay and Lesbian Bullying Prevention to explore the sources of bullying behavior and to take actions to reduce it. Take some time to learn from these stories and place yourself in the mind of each child as described. How did they feel? How did they get by in school? Why is some cases did they kill themselves? How did some survive to become a functioning and beneficial part of an adult society? Can any child be considered worthless and undeserving of protection?
The Straight Boy Who Played with Girls
Jim recalls in elementary school, he used to enjoy playing jump rope with the girls much more than rough-housing with the boys. In junior high, he preferred being in dramatic productions to playing baseball. He loved reading and writing. In high school, he was editor of the school newspaper and even dated the top cheerleader. But everyone still thought he was gay, and the bullies called him “queer” all the time. But he was most definitely heterosexual, yet he did not fit into the stereotypes of being a “manly” man. He never once had any same-sex interest, but because he was not acting the same ways as other boys were acting in school, and because he was physically small, the other boys taunted him as being a “queer.” As he grew to an adult he gravitated to the arts. He got married and had a child.
11-year-old Boy Attempts Suicide, is Brain-damaged, Because of Love for My Little Pony
Michael liked to play with “My Little Pony”. His favorite character from the collection was “Pinkie Pie.” He was not of the age to have any strong sexual identity, but was subjected to much bullying at school, simply for liking a toy normally marketed to girls. The students at his elementary school called him “gay” for liking “My Little Pony.” Michael hung himself with a neck tie he received as a gift. His mother discovered him near death. He survived, but is now in a permanent vegetative state due to the brain damage he suffered from the suicide attempt.
14-year-old Boy Kills Himself After Being Bullied to Death
Kennan killed himself on his second suicide attempt within six months by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. He was 14. There were 20 reports made by him at his UK school, about being bullied for being gay. Investigations were inconclusive regarding the actions taken or not taken by school officials. The coroner officially blamed access to websites which discussed suicide methods as a contributing factor in the death, instead of laying the blame on the bullies.
13-year-old Boy Commits Suicide Because of Bullying
Time magazine reported on the suicide death of Seth, which came after many years of being bullied, so much so, he lived in daily fear. The bullying took every form, including in-person attacks, cyber-threats, telephone calls, and text messages. The attacks started in fourth grade and by sixth grade, the attacks occurred on almost a daily basis. He liked to read the Bible. Even though his family was able to accept him as he was, he was not able to accept his own sexual orientation as being gay. The excessive bullying, over so many years, finally convinced him to take his own life. 600 people from the small community of Tehachapi in California turned up at the memorial services.
13-year-old Boy Kills Himself After Being Thrown Down Two Flights of Stairs at School
The parents of the boy, who accepted their son was gay, claim the bullying at school continued for more than two years even though they complained to school officials on many occasions. The young boy, a distraught Asher Brown, took his father’s gun and shot himself in the head. His parents have sued the Hamilton Junior High School and the school district, claiming their son was bullied to death because of his appearance, his religious beliefs and his sexual orientation.
The Girl Who Bullied Boys
When Linda was 11 years old, she went to a public elementary school. While in the sixth grade, she was very big, both in height and in size for her age. Because she was bigger than others, she did not fit in. The other kids called her names like “monster giant” or “biggie.” She liked playing with boys because her larger size gave her an advantage in physical sports. Because of this, the other young girls called her a “tom boy”, a “dyke” or a “lesbo.” When she was young, she was not even sure what those terms meant, but she knew they were not nice. She started puberty, earlier than most other girls in her class, which meant her breasts enlarged to noticeable levels. She got more attention from the boys for this, but she did not like it. She wanted the boys and everyone else to treat her as an equal, not as something weird or different. Because of the stress of being treated like an oddity, she bullied others. She physically and verbally attacked anyone weaker than herself, especially weak overweight boys who she called “fag” or “queer.” The other students around her thought it was funny when a girl beat up a weaker boy, which encouraged her to continue abusing other weaker boy students. They stopped calling her names and she gained a kind of positive reputation for humiliating weak boys. As she grew up to a young adult woman, her sexual identity became more clear to her. In her twenties, she realized she was a lesbian and she embraced it. Nevertheless, she feels very guilty and sad for bullying weaker boys when she was in elementary school and calling them “fags.” She is not even sure why she did these things.
14-year-old Boy Kill Himself After Making a “It Gets Better” Video for Other Gay Youth
Jamey was not even sure if he was gay or not. He was slightly effeminate, and all his friends were girls, but he was not sure about his sexuality so he decided, as a virgin, to leave the options open and for the moment to publicly classify himself as bisexual. He never got a chance to figure this question out. Tormented by online cyber-bullying as fat, gay, and ugly. The bullies told him, no one would care if he died. He killed himself.
It is clear from gay bullying statistics how harmful the behaviors of all these gay bullies are. What is not clear is why they did these things, especially when some of them turned out later in life to be gay themselves. This gay/anti-gay combination represents a distorted reaction to oppression. Oppression takes many forms. There is oppression of others, and there is also self-oppression, in the cases where the perpetrator of the gay bullying later on in life turns out to be gay themselves. This is a form of self-oppression called self-loathing. Uncomfortable feelings of sexual identity have negative expression in the attack on others. Ricky Martin who now has come out as a gay adult man admitted to anti gay bullying when he was a closeted gay teen.
There is a need to dig deeper into the causes of gay bullying stories, and not to take the easy way out to simply blame the bully for anti-social behavior. It is clear, in many cases the bully themselves were a victim of intense self-hatred, had unclear personal identity, psychological problems, and low self-esteem. In order to have any success in reducing bullying behavior, it is important to pay attention the complexities and details in order to challenge any incorrect behavior with compassion and conviction.