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The tragic story of Lawrence King places him at the forefront of the fight for anti-bullying policies on sexual orientation that protect students in schools.
But put him aside for a moment.
Beyond the poster children of the endless lobbying for safe schools – King, Matt Epling and others – there are children who are still alive, facing harassment, unequal treatment, teachers and principals who ignore them and bullying, both physical and verbal, every day.
There are students like those at Gull Lake High School who fear for their lives due to rampant homophobia in their schools. There are parents who are forced to move and switch school districts to protect their children. There are schools that discourage freedom of expression and encourage prejudice. LGBT students – as well as youth with LGBT parents – often face opposition at every turn.
These warriors go to school knowing what awaits them and knowing that they have no one to turn to. So when you go to Michigan’s capital on March 26 for Matt’s Safe Schools Lobbying Day (and we know you will), don’t just do it for those who died due to bullying. Do it for those who still endure it.
When thinking about the issues related to the LGBT community, it seems as though the to-do list is endless. Marriage. Equal opportunity employment. Visitation rights. Adoption. Religious persecution. Drug use. HIV. Homeless youth. Mental health. And, of course, bullying.
It is easy to become overwhelmed, but possible to give each problem an equal fight. However, without advocates and activists, where would these issues be? Certainly not moving forward. And if growth into an active adult with set values is stunted, that is exactly where we’ll all be: going nowhere.
To combat every issue the LGBT community faces, there must be enough people committed to doing so. Today’s LGBT youth are tomorrow’s LGBT activists.
Battling bullying in schools ensures that these youth will be strong enough to fight the same and other battles some day. In fact, it might even give them the courage to start now before they’re even out of school.
At some point in everybody’s life, their beliefs are either cultivated or crushed. Don’t let bullying be that boulder.
A young man named Tucker in Oklahoma City wrote to Sally Kern, the Oklahoma state legislator who gained national attention for her recent anti-gay tirade. Tucker, 18, had lost his mother in the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building thirteen years ago. He is straight, and in his letter to Kern he states clearly and forcefully that Kern’s rant is painful – to gay and lesbian people and to him. Tucker’s letter, reprinted in this issue of BTL on page 9, is the voice of someone who has gone through unspeakable loss because of random, vicious hatred. He understands that bullying, whether by fellow students, teachers or public officials destroys people and their sense of well-being and safety. We can all learn from Tucker, someone who has transcended his personal pain to become someone who is willing to fight so others do not have to go through the devastation as he did.