Anyone out there in the US who is not deeply affected by the death of Buffalo teenager Jamey Rodemeyer needs a serious reality check. This 14 yr old boy was the fourth teen this month bullied to the point of taking his life. Bullied in school for being different also spread to the internet. “You weren’t born this way, you should have never been born” “Jamie is stupid, gay, fat & ugly. He must die” are 2 examples of the hate speech that where posted. What message are kids receiving to think that this kind of bullying is acceptable?
A freshman in high school Jamey blogged openly about his issues and freely advocated about the things he was enduring. Friends reported his treatment to guidance counselors and those around him recently felt he was stronger. Jamey was enormously influenced by Lady Gaga and he quoted the lyrics of her song Born This Way “Hold your head and you'll go far; Love yourself & your set!”
He recently said online “I always say how bullied I am but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen?” Jamey was found dead outside his home on Sunday morning, details where not released by the Police. In a video blog in May he said “People don’t want me to die” How desperate must this young man have been to take his own life? Do we need any more evidence that we now have a pandemic of bullying on our hands?
When I heard what had happened I cried and felt so many emotions about what Jamey had gone through. I related so closely to his experiences which was maybe a big factor in the level of my response. It is over two decades since I was in school and STILL this archaic form of torture is occurring. When as a society will we learn how damaging it is bullying is to anyone, let alone a young person at such a crucial stage in their development. My sadness has prompted me to do something more to raise awareness.
Gay white males are 5 times more likely to commit suicide in response to their treatment. LGBT kids or those who are perceived to be are victimized at a higher rate than the regular student population. They are taunted on average of 26 times per day. Sixty thousand children stay away from school every day out of fear. Although gay rights issues have been furthered in the past few years there is clearly a long way to go, and we all have a role to play in this. Even the language we choose makes a great deal of difference to what we put out there into the world.
The bullies/haters are clearly culpable in this instance and calls for an anti bullying laws continue with the likes of Lady Gaga, Anderson Cooper and Dan Savage pushing for the changes. Lady Gaga tweeted:"Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime". Police have apparently and quite rightly opened an investigation into this Jamey’s death. Someone needs to be held accountable for this young mans unnecessary death and urgent changes need to be made in Jamey’s school, Williamsville North High in Buffalo.
The School has scheduled a parent forum on October 25th on teen depression and suicide awareness, in order to enable similarly bullied students to seek help. This is too little too lately for Jamey, although I am sure other students will benefit. Teachers don’t need any special training for this. Isn’t it simple enough to request that hate speech is NOT used in the classroom? I am sure most Teachers are very fair but as I have said before they cannot be everywhere.
I am reminded once again of Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old student who committed suicide after being filmed having sex and feeling so ridiculed regarding his sexual orientation. Although prosecutions are afoot, his roommate is denying this was a bias crime. I am left wondering then where are the videos of his heterosexual fellow students having sex? This is yet another senseless death of someone who was harassed for his sexual orientation and it is clear that we are not doing enough as a society to effect change which highlights the need for legislation.
A House bill 370 in Kentucky has been raised to prohibit bullying because of a students sexual orientation, race or religion. Some idiots are terming anti bullying of young gay people as “a homosexual agenda”. Do people really think you can catch it? There is no agenda other than that protecting individuals and making sure they are safe. Using a neutrality perspective is not an option either as ultimately it further enables the bullies in their tirade.
State law maker Mike Harmon (R) Kentucky, doesn’t want Christian young people to be labeled as bullies for having a moral or religious beliefs or for thinking homosexuality is a sin, but has little to say about gay young people being bullied for their sexual orientation. This really is the trickle effect of hate in action. When air-heads like Harmon make statements of this ilk they breed hatred and frankly give Christians a bad name. Christian children cannot use their religious beliefs as license to bully. Where is the love?
The God that I know and love is a God of love and does not promote this kind response. Harmon is a hypocrite! I do not believe homosexuality is a sin but if as a Christian you do, surely you are commanded to love the sinner? This message promoted breeds hatred and excuses intolerance. It is so important that we do not allow people in power to use their religious beliefs to effect change. Where in this issue is the separation of Church and State?
Candi Cushman’s (Focus on the Family) recent comments leave reaching for the sick bucket! She said “What parents need to be aware of is that there are activists groups who want to promote homosexuality to kids because they realize they can capture hearts and minds of our children at the earliest stages, they will have for all practical purposes won the clash of values we are currently experiencing!
If anyone has an agenda, clearly it is Cushman. Her comments reek of hate and frankly the only thing being promoted is Equality. Gay people do not need to promote homosexuality. There will always be gay people, it is a given. Unfortunately bigots like her cannot see the importance of teaching equality and tolerance to children and young people. If she had been taught about these things from an early age then maybe she would not have such tunnel vision. In my fight for equality I am not just fighting for the rights of gay people, I am fighting for the rights of all people.
How Cushman can write about “True Tolerance” and have a response like this is most worrying. For her to see activism in the gay community as having an agenda differently from what it actually is is just another attempt to muddy the waters. Her statements are very much open to interpretation and have to be read several times in order to conceptualize. Can we see Cushman’s agenda emerging?
She spews about the rights of everybody but homosexuals, and then contradicts herself. Her comments contribute to not only a societal problem, but a global problem, which feeds into the pandemic of bullying, harassment & inequality.
She needs to practice what she preaches. Whilst children are still killing themselves because they cannot deal with their treatment at the hands of bullies we need to address the issue head on and NOT pontificate on irrelevancies and diversionary tactics.
The fight for equality is a fight that is ongoing and the haters in America need to shut the fuck up. This country was founded on Democracy, Freedom & Liberty for all and it seems we have forgotten these fundaments along the way. Children are the future and we need to protect and cherish them and ensure they are not treated this way or Jamey and the other young people who took their own lives have died in vain. Use your platform in life wisely and ensure equality for all.
We need to see the issues and not sidestep or use a sad situation to create more hate. Society changes steadily but all the while hatred is being poured in we will see it trickle down. We need to educate from ground level and teach an attitude of tolerance towards those who are different to us. This doesn’t make them bad or wrong, but should not make them a target for mistreatment. Don’t be afraid to speak out against this kind of injustice and discrimination. We will get there x
Please pray Candi Cushman as she clearly needs it!
"Don't forget me when I come crying to heaven's door." (Lady Gaga)
Peace and Luv, Xan x
RIP Jamey Rodemeyer and all the young people who have died as a result of bullying. You light up the sky x
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Xander Gibb has written for many publications and writes with an unapologetic response to the world around.