Between the passing period bells lie the worst three minutes of a middle school or high school student’s day. In that 1/80 of a week (assuming 5 days of school with six three minute passing periods) my, friend and colleague with the assistance of some friends recorded over 1000 degrading sexual orientation, gender identify, and racial slurs over five school days. That’s not even considering the slicing and heart breaking text flowing through the internet in the form of cyber bullying. I believe in tolerance and respect, but most of all I believe in acceptance.
I’m sure most listeners have heard the statistic x number of children and adolescents skip school because of harassment. However, for some reason educators, administrators, parents, and fellow students turn a blind eye to the harassment. Why? Well, I may not have the answer for the bystander, but I have learned what I can do to make a difference.
Middle class, straight, Caucasian, middle to high IQ, not visibly handicapped, perhaps a little petite for a standard American, but I’m probably the last person any one would predict would get teased. Except, I’m vocal, I exert myself in my school work to compensate for a learning disability and more importantly to expand my knowledge of the world. I’ve been harassed, I haven’t wanted to come to school, in fact next year I will attend the community college to get away from the sub reality of high school society.
During my time in the GSA (Gay Strait Alliance) at the high school I attended and on the GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) team I heard and read heart wrenching news articles regarding the harassment of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Gender Non-conforming, etc. students contend with everyday. At the end of my Sophomore year of high school I joined GLSEN to promote acceptance not just for LGBT students, but for any student or person who has ever felt hurt or threatened deliberately by another human being. In GLSEN first hand accounts of bullying that seemed to come from a different decade were relayed to me over lunch by kind, empathetic, wise, brilliant, and attractive students my age and grade.
Technically, I identify as pansexual because I try to avoid confining or judging others and myself based upon gender. In this century of equality I believe it is just as relevant to accept a different gender expression and/ or sexual identity as it is to accept other religions, ethnicities, and cultures. We live in an international world. An open mind and heart are necessary components to international interactions. I believe the loudest voice heard is the voice that hears, listens, comprehends, and accepts another’s point of view. To clarify, by accept I do not mean you must agree with whom you are conversing, but you must tolerate and respect their opinion. In turn they may respect your perspective.