Bullying has become an epidemic in the United States. Recently this has come to the forefront of the media with the large number of suicides in the past few weeks.
All of those who took their lives were homosexual youths.
Bullying in itself is already a problem but when a homophobic sentiment is added it only makes matters worse.
Students need to stop bullying one another.
The tragic stories of Tyler Clementi; 13-year-old Asher Brown, who was teased relentlessly; and most recently the victims of a string of gay bashings in New York City are still ringing in the media.
Clementi, a freshman Rutgers University student was filmed having sex with another male student by his roommate, who posted the video on YouTube. Distraught about being outed publicly, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
Brown was teased constantly by classmates which led to him shooting himself.
In New York City several members of a gang allegedly beat three gay men and one of the man’s brothers.
Someone needs to speak up against the bullies and tell them that their taunts are more shameful than they claim being a homosexual is.
However, those who are being teased also need to know that suicide should not be an option. They need to know that there are plenty of resources out there to turn to instead of a gun, a noose or a bridge.
For example there are hotlines available to them when they feel like they need someone to talk to.
University of La Verne students who may feel the pressure of homophobic bullying, or any other issues with sexual identity, have two prominent on-campus resources.
The first is Safe Zone. Several ULV faculty and staff member have been Safe Zone trained and can help LGBT students who are in need.
Staff and faculty who are Safe Zone trained have the group’s upside down pink triangle symbol posted outside their offices.
A complete list of Safe Zone-trained faculty and staff members at ULV, along with their contact information, can be found at academic.laverne.edu/~ear/safelist.
Another resource is the on-campus club Rainbow Alliance.
They are a welcoming group and are willing to help anyone who is struggling.
The club hosts several events during the year such as their Open Mic Night which was on Monday.
More information can be found on the club’s Facebook page.
There has also been a push by celebrities to end the suicides along with people posting videos and telling their stories.
Most visible are the celebrities and ordinary people alike who have begun to tell their stories in a video and are uploading them on the YouTube channel, It Gets Better Project.
The project has also been aided by the likes of “Project Runway’s” Tim Gunn, Anne Hathaway, “Glee’s” Chris Colfer, Ellen DeGeneres and Zachary Quinto, who have all uploaded videos under the It Gets Better Project channel.
We can only hope that the message of each life is valuable gets through to those being bullied by homophobic people.
Until it does we can only try to stop the bullying. We can put pressure on schools to enforce anti-bullying rules and make the bullies aware of their errors.
More importantly we must also teach acceptance of gays and lesbians.
Anything less is an insult to basic human dignity.