More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Stand Up Speak Out
Young people everywhere are taking a stand against bullying. In a movement that’s rocking the nation, young people are saying, let’s make it better – and here’s how.
Justin Anderson, former student in the Anoka-Hennepin school district and safe schools intern with OutFront Minnesota is taking a stand against bullying, “Something is wrong in our schools when students can say things like ‘gay people should go kill themselves so that we don't have to deal with them’ in front of teachers without being challenged. The actions of other kids at my school eventually got bad enough that I found myself wondering whether or not the world would truly be better off without me in it.
"There was a choice to make: giving in to it all or taking a stand against it. I chose to stand up and speak out. I chose to make it better.”
Justin concludes with this message, “people are making things better. We are making things better. You have the power to make it better, too. It starts by making a choice.”
The Justice League, a student group at the Blake School in Minnesota has spearheaded a student-led initiative, Stand Up, Speak Out, to get students everywhere to pledge to ta ke action when they witness bullying and harassment in schools. To invite other schools to adopt similar actions, they are holding an event on National Coming Out Day in the Twin Cities.
In an open invitation of participation the Justice League writes, “As a student-organized initiative, we want youth to participate in this important movement from all corners of the state and we are seeking your support in Creating Safe Schools for All.”
This invitation to stand up against bullying and support all students is echoed by other youth-led initiatives inviting others to take action. Last year, young person Brittany McMillan, in what quickly became a viral movement, asked people to display the color purple (which symbolizes “spirit” on the rainbow flag) on October 20 to show support for lesbian, gay, bi, and trans youth everywhere. As October 20 approaches, the effort is underway again – this time inviting schools to take action, giving more opportunities for young people to stand up and speak out against bullying and show support of students everywhere. On October 20, expect to see shades of purple on gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people and allies of all ages as people show their true colors to support for LGBT youth.
The media has also taken a more in-depth look at the anti-bullying movement. Anderson Cooper, in a partnership with CNN, the Cartoon Network, Facebook, and Time, Inc. has made a commitment to address bullying from multiple angles. They too have a movement on Facebook, Stop Bullying, Speak Up, asking people to take a pledge against bullying.
In addition, the partnership is teaming up to raise awareness about bullying with a series of specials. Last night, Anderson Cooper hosted a town hall at Rutgers University, “Bullying: It Stops Here”
In addition to hearing from notables like Jane Lynch, Kelly Ripa (both moms), and Dr. Phil, a number of other experts, parents, and educators weighed in during the town hall. The forum went on to showcase the film “The Bully Project,” a documentary exposing some of the bullying that students face, and four students from the Anoka-Hennepin School District who share their stories of bullying and their requests that the district send a stronger message in support of safe schools for all students.
Kyle Rooker, one of the students from the Anoka-Hennepin School district who appeared on the show shared his experiences of bullying and what a safe school means to him. He closes this segment of the forum with a touching rendition of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. Watch it here:
Catch the trailer for the documentary "The Bully Project" here:
If you missed last night’s “Bullying: It Stops Here,” catch it again on Friday at 8 and 10 p.m. ET along with other anti-bullying specials airing all week on CNN.
GLAAD invites you to take a moment to recognize the power of young people working to create safer schools for all students. Use the Justice League as a model for what a student group can do on campuses across the nation to ask students to create a more welcoming environment where each student takes responsibility for shaping their school. Take the pledge to participate in Spirit Day and show your support for LGBT youth everywhere.