so impressive

Over the past couple of months, there has been a huge increase of awareness of the extent of bullying and violence that young gay people experience.   The stories are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes full of promise, but either way it is a blessing that finally they are being told and heard and reported on.

Lots of the stories and videos are worth watching  (you can find some of them here), but this is my favourite so far.

A fourteen year old boy, who has already suffered and learned to live, takes on his town’s School Board to defend a teacher.  Sometimes I love America.

Graeme Taylor takes on the School Board

16 thoughts on “so impressive

  1. Not sure from your article if you are simply quoting the scene in the USA. Certainly I have not read about this here in Scotland, where young gay folk are targetted particularly. Bullying amongst teenagers, usually at school, is reported regularly. Unfortunately, because authority has been removed from teachers, there is little action they can take.
    I see that Strathclyde Police regularly visit schools to discuss the problem with teenagers. Bullying has always gone on where certain youngsters are the target of the bully – it may be due to the victim wearing glasses, has red hair, is too tall or too short, and I recall Jewish boys being taunted at my school as they had to parade on the front row of Morning Assembly, then the Headmaster would request that ‘before we pray, will the non-Christians please leave’ There followed hissing, which I never understood, but I knew how humilating it must have been. All bullying should be reported and dealt with immediately.

  2. interesting, Graham. I suppose a lot of it has happened on line, where national boundaries are blurry. Does that mean that you haven’t seen an increase in reporting here in Scotland, and is this something we need to talk more about?

  3. I’m not sure either if this is a difference in countries, but here in the US, the religious right has often used rhetoric that argues that LGBT individuals would be better off dead. This is the similar rhetoric used in the anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda, which the US religious right had a hand in constructing. The rhetoric has brought forth a widespread unveiling of bullying that’s gone on in the US school system for many years.

    Thanks for your wonderful post! I enjoy reading your blog!

    Please visit at http://brigittemccray.wordpress.com

    Peace and love!

    -brigitte

  4. To be fair – I think that in the UK anybody arguing in public that any group, including gay people, would be better off dead would at once be prosecuted for a hate crime. The problem is not what happens in UK lessons – it is what happens in the playground, at break, at lunch.

  5. So how does one remove the fragmented “debate” from the playground as Rosemary rightly observes into a rational and meaningful forum, with the objective of promoting love, tolerance and inclusivity?

  6. I am no expert but I suspect the playground problem is the collision of imperfectly formed ideas of gender roles, acute anxiety (are we girls feminine enough, are we boys really masculine) over personal identity, and the desire of society to see people as gay or straight when I strongly suspect many are only mostly gay or mostly straight.

    More role models – more butch gay blokes and feminine lesbians. Not in real life, where dear knows there are plenty, but more on the telly, in films. Less emphasis on the need for women to be picture perfect shaved and coiffured, more freedom for girls to do blokey stuff and for straight blokes to do girlie stuff. All this would do much to soften up the edges.

    Mature and sensible debate in class, and more people who think knowing somebody’s sexual orientation only becomes of concern when you are going to decide if you want to suggest a relationship beyond friendship with them.

    It is a heap better than it used to be, not that I suggest any resting on laurels.

  7. Oh and all bullying of all kinds taboo. And all teachers everywhere supporting this. Probably harder than the rest.

  8. Well, from the Comments above this may well be the scene in right-wing USA where certain groups of people are targetted; indeed, on my first visit to New England I was shocked at the way black Americans were treated by white Bostonians.
    But here in Scotland I have not read of gay folk being especially singled out. All bullying is wrong and I do not think that we should highlight one group, say gay folk, as this separates them from society as a whole. As a foreigner, when I first arrived in Scotland I was targetted to be bullied and humiliated simply because I came from England. I was told, as a Principal Officer that I must not encourage any more English people to take up positions in my department. I refused to be so targetted and stood up for myself and ensure that it was well publicised and that the relevant Trade Unions were involved to support minority peoples.

  9. Graham

    In our own church, gay people face routine prejudice, some of which is sanctioned by the College of Bishops. My view is that it is getting worse, not better. I know gay clergy who are frightened to come out because they fear that either their work in their congregation will be much more difficult or that they will find it harder to find another job later. Gay kids, of course, are thus deprived of good role models and are more likely to face bullying at school which even the government recognises is a problem to be tackled.

    I remember when I was appointed to my current post, hearing someone from outside the congregation say, “I never thought it would go to a gay man….its a really important job”.

    Homophobic bullying is more common in school than the church, but the prejudice which we tolerate and live with in church is one of the things that gives that bullying behaviour legitimacy.

  10. I also think we are going backwards in the church.

    Graham, it’s true that there are ghastly divides in the States, though it’s often hard to tell if the ‘problem’ is racial or economic. Having grown up in New England, though, I am not at all convinced that prejudice against black people there is any worse than prejudice against Asian people here. (and lets not even get started on sectarianism…)

    It’s still wrong, and ghastly, of course — but there is tendency to assume that everything is worse in the States, when in face some things are worse, some things are better, and many things are the same.

  11. As a Province we must speak out against all forms of bullying and prejudice. I agree with the sentiment that even some clergy are guilty. Someone important recently said ‘if it wasn’t for the clergy, the Church would be great!’ Ha ha. I am against singling out gay folk. I was singled out as I was born English and came from England and I strongly rebutted the bully, making it public. At school the school bully singled me out. Eventually I lost it and we had a fight in the playground. I think he was shocked that someone stood up to him. He never bullied anyone again. We both were put in Detention, but I thought it was worth it. No, we must not single out a particular category, but we should speak out loudly against all bullying and intimidation. On another tack, it is the spiritual life which is the most important, not whether someone is this, that or the other.

    My wife Valerie and I attended the Sung Eucharist at Trinity Church, Boston, USA. The church was crowded for an evening Eucharist. Afterwards we were invited for coffee. (I remembered that the Bostonians had ditched the tea!!). One woman gently stated ‘You do know that this service is for gay people, don’t you?’ We had no idea. We stayed on and chatted. I thought, why on earth does being gay separate folk from everyone else? Do gay folk have a separate interpretation of the Holy Eucharist? The simple answer is no.

  12. Kelvin,
    I have perused your comments again. I am sorry that you feel that gay folk get a raw deal in the Church. Without the clergy (who may be gay) we would all lose out. Again, it is the inner spiritual life which is the important thing, nothing else.
    I admired your stance when you addressed us in the Cathedral with your first sermon. My thought was, ‘Oh I hope he is not going to go on and on about being gay; what will his spiritual message be?’ You did not disappoint me. Regards.

  13. My son was bullied at school and it was heartbreaking. He was so afraid and begged me not to report to the Head because the bully’s father was a teacher at the same school.

  14. Anon: This is of course blackmail out of fear; a common problem for children at school. The one thing a school or any institution fears, is bad publicity. That is their vulnerability. With respect, I would still rise above the blackmail-fear and expose the matter both to the School Head, the teacher concerned and to the Press at the same time. That will put an end to it usually. Heads can also blackmail you – ‘I shall deal with it, rest assured….’ etc which usually means telling the bully off, who then turns on the victim as you and the child fear. Doing both ensures you deal with it in the public sphere and at the school. I can well understand your predicament.

  15. Graham: My son finished school, went on to university and after graduating quickly took a job. He is a confident caring young man none the worse for his horrible experience at school. This happened a long time ago and I have nothing more to add.

  16. Anon — thank you for your first comment. I could feel the pain of it, and didn’t quite know how to respond. But I’m glad you shared it with us.

    Graham — I know you are right, structurally, and one has to hope that someone in each school has the courage to name and stop the bullying, but it is so endemic in our society that often it goes wrong.

    Too often the victim gets blamed — for talking, for not talking, for being who they are.

    Bullying is ghastly, and it is very hard to stop.

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