Bully Pulpit

The school year is now in full swing and kids are back in the daily grinds of school, and homework, and extra curricular activities.  But there is also a darker side to this.  While most kids just go about their days as normal, there are hundreds of kids out there that face a living hell each time they walk through the school doors as they are bullied and taunted endlessly by their peers.  In the month of September, at least 4-such incidences have been reported by the media  (there were probably even more than that) in which a kid (or a student) has committed suicide over the endless taunting and teasing over their sexual orientation… or perceived sexual orientation.

This is an ongoing problem that has no end.  Parents report problems to the schools and the schools don’t have a lot of options when it comes to it.  And other classmates usually don’t step in to help on the fear that they will be bullied next.  And the kids that are being bullied just haven’t developed a way to counter it.  They feel alone and isolated and in a hell they cannot escape from.

Even when I was in school, I, too, was bullied and teased.  The effects of such things still linger within me today.  But I learned how to cope with such things.  I kept to myself and quiet… and tried to always stay in the back.  The less I was noticed, the better it would be… though I couldn’t escape everything.  But I did survive such things, and I do know now that there would be better days ahead.  Elementary school, middle school, and high school can be some of the most turbulent times for today’s youth and it takes some tough skin to get through it.

Acceptance and tolerance are key things in this battle.  Though parts of these lessons can be learned at school, the main driving force behind these messages must come from the home.  It is up to the parents to instill these values within their children from a very early age.  Not everyone is going to be like you (act like you, look like you, etc), but that doesn’t give someone the right to pass judgment on that other person.  Think about it for a moment… the way you are judging someone else might be the way someone else is judging you.  You know that you wouldn’t like it, so then why do it?

Bullying is not a new problem and even with anti-bullying legislation making its way through various state legislatures, it’s probably not going to go away anytime soon.  But we can give the school the resources to help out… to make sure that the kids have a safe place to go and someone to talk to… and maybe get action to be taken.  The tough skin that these kids need will develop once they start realizing that they are not alone in the world and that someone out there does care.  And if someone out there is reading this… “I CARE!  And you are not alone.”

There is a vast community out here that can and will assist anyone.  And if you, or someone you know needs help, there is a really good place to turn… The Trevor Project.  They have people standing by 24-hours a day to take your calls and help these kids get through these dark times.  Suicide is not the answer for any child… and it’s time we start making sure these kids realize that they are not alone.  After all, I care.  Do you?

The Trevor Project

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)  24-hours a day

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Coming Out

To those of you who know me, the fact that I’m gay is not a surprise.  Even a couple of weeks ago, Clay Aiken finally came out to all of America….again, no surprise.  However, today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day.  So I wanted to take a moment to address something very important.

A 2005 Massachusetts Department of Education survey of 3500 high school students found almost 11 percent have seriously considered suicide. And that percentage is almost four times as high for 10-24 year olds who identify with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or questioning.

It is not easy for most of us to come out of the closet.  Our own welfare is usually on our minds and how the outside world will treat us.  Then it comes down to our family and friends. And for those of you who have followed along with me through the years even know of my rough patches.  So I’m hear to say that there is help out there.

It’s called The Trevor Project.  It began in 1998 and is named after the short film “Trevor” that won an Academy Award in 1994, and it is a 24-hour helpline for gay youth.  They have more than 500 volunteers that are trained for 40 hours and get at least 15,000 calls a year.

If you know someone that is going through a hard time with being gay, or maybe you yourself are, and might be contemplating suicide, please seek help.  You are not alone out there, despite what you might think.  Don’t worry about being mainstream or being different from everyone else. Consider yourself unique to the world….a world you have a lot to offer.  I can’t promise you an easy journey and there will be those bad times. But there will also be those good times and new friends.  So please stop and think logically for a moment.  You are important, and your contribution to our society is as well. Sometimes, life takes those unexpected detours, but that’s the adventure that awaits us all.  If life was a straight line, it would be fairly boring. Embrace yourself and your uniqueness….and always remember, you’re not alone.

But if you, or someone you know, does need some help getting through those tough times, then contact The Trevor Project, and please seek that help.  You, and those that love you, will be grateful in the end.  🙂  And never be afraid to be yourself.

PHONE: 1-866-488-7386  (1-866-4 U TREVOR)

LINK: www.thetrevorproject.org

OTHER INFORMATION:

Warning Signs:

-A tendency toward isolation and social withdrawal

-Increase substance abuse

-Expression of negative attitudes toward self

-Expression of hopelessness or helplessness

-Loss of interest in usual activities

-Giving away valued possessions

-Expression of a lack of future orientation: “It won’t matter soon anyway.”

-For someone who has been very depressed, when that depression begins to lift, the individual may be at INCREASED risk of suicide, as the individual will have the psychological energy to follow through on suicide ideation.

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