“Truth Is”: Anti-Bullying Music Video

I came across this video while surfing my usual blogsites of interest, and it was too good not to share.

Sixteen year old, Marcella Fruehan wrote this song because, as reported on Towleroad, she wanted “to express [her] feelings in support of anti-bullying. As a 16 year old I see a lot going on around me; especially with bullying and the effects that it has on those who are bullied and what lengths teens will go to to ‘get away from it all. I want you to know suicide is never the answer. Truth is…you are loved, you are not alone…you are never alone.”

It’s a good song and video. Take a look for yourself.

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Assault Charges Dropped Against Sequoyah HS Principal

Charged against Sequoyah HS principal Maurice Moser in Tennessee have been dropped, as reported in Queerty.

You may remember my previous post about Moser, who assaulted a student for wearing a shirt in support of starting a GSA on his high school campus. Click here to read the post.

The presiding judge dismissed the case, and as of now, justification for why the case was dismissed has not been released. According to local affiliate WBIR, “An assault charge had also been filed against the student, but it was dropped when Moser agreed not to prosecute.”

I don’t know about you, but I smell a rat (or at least some behind closed doors deals). There were witnesses, relatives of the student and another teacher, who observed Moser’s behavior, yet the charges have been dropped and a threatened counter-suit by the principal against the student has also gone away.

Even though the students at Sequoyah HS have won the right to wear GSA shirts (which I posted about here), this doesn’t feel like a victory to me. I hope the ACLU is still watching this case.

 

New PSA on Bullying: Out of the Mouths of Babes

Two brothers made a video on bullying for a school project. Eight grader Grant Viola and his third grade brother Drake star in this video that tackles bullying, saying “that’s gay,” and being stupid. The video was made in response to a homework assignment given to big brother Grant.

Seeing two young boys grasp a concept that some adults have difficulty with is promising. Kudos to both Grant and Drake!

Here’s the video.

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(via Queerty)

Lady Gaga to Create Anti-Bullying Foundation

Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” became an anthem for self-acceptance and loving one’s self despite adversity or prejudice. Her lyrics remind us all that we were all created by God, and that He made us exactly the people we were to be, no matter our race or sexual orientation.

Now, Lady Gaga is ready to take her anthem “Born This Way” to the next level, as reported by The Advocate. She will “launch her Born This Way Foundation” where she “will use the title of her hit pro-LGBT anthem and best-selling album as the name of the non-profit that will focus on youth empowerment and ‘issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development.’”

When asked about her hopes for the foundation, Lady Gaga said, “Together we [including her mother, Cynthia Germanotta] hope to establish a standard of Bravery and Kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment.”

These are the types of stories I love to see. When entertainers, politicians, or anyone else in the limelight uses their influence to truly make a difference, everyone benefits. Lady Gaga isn’t attacking religious fundamentalists or Republicans. She isn’t launching a smear campaign against those she disagrees with.

Instead, she is using her fame and her resources to make a difference, to give hope to those who feel abandoned.

My hats off to Lady Gaga and those like her. Such actions by people such as this are worth more than the venom that spews from any hate monger’s mouth. After all, hate and ignorance can’t stand against love and compassion for all.

Here’s the music video for “Born This Way” if you haven’t seen it or would like to see it again.

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Students in TN Allowed to Wear GSA Shirts

You may remember I posted about Sequoyah HS in Tennessee, where a student was assaulted by his principal for wearing a GSA shirt. (Click here to see the post).

According to Towleroad, students at Sequoyah HS will now be allowed to wear shirts in support of a Gay Straight Alliance.

The ACLU released the following statement: “The Monroe County Board of Education agreed yesterday to allow students to wear T-shirts in support of the formation of a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at the school. The board will also review its dress code to ensure that students’ rights to free speech are protected.” 

Chris Sigler, the student who was assaulted, had this to say about the school board’s decision:

“A lot of kids get harassed at our school because they’re gay or they have gay friends, and we just want a space where we can all support each other and do something creative. We still want the GSA to be recognized as a club, but at least now the school won’t punish us for peacefully expressing our opinions.”

I’m glad to see that some progress is being made here. Still, even though the school administration can’t officially do anything to these students, I worry how the students will be treated overall. The vitriol the principal expressed at the GSA didn’t just go away; he simply lost his fight against the shirts. No word yet has been received whether or not a GSA will be formed at Sequoyah HS, but in light of recent events, I’d say one is definitely needed.

Student Assaulted by TN HS Principal Over a GSA Shirt

It hasn’t been a good couple of days for gays or Tennessee. You may remember yesterday I posted about two gay men assaulted for attempting to attend services at a church in Tennessee. Click here to read that post.

Sequoyah High School

Sequoyah High School, where children aren't safe

Today, I came across another assault in Tennessee (courtesy of Towleroad). In Madisonville, TN, high school principal Maurice Moser assaulted 17 year old Chris Sigler over his decision to wear a homemade shirt in support of Sequoyah High School starting a Gay-Straight Alliance. The shirt contained the school’s abbreviation–SQHS–on the front. The back of the shirt read “Gay Straight Alliance: We’ve Got Your Back.”

The day before the assault, Moser warned Sigler not to wear the shirt again; however, brave Sigler, refusing to allow anyone to squelch his First Amendment Right, wore the shirt the following day. Moser allegedly interrupted Sigler’s class and ordered everyone out of the room. Sigler’s sister, however, refused to leave. The ACLU of Tennessee, who has taken Sigler’s case, says that “Moser then grabbed Sigler’s arm, shoved him, and chest-bumped him repeatedly while asking ‘Who’s the big man now?’ Sigler’s mother reported that when she arrived at the school, she saw her son seated in a desk with Moser leaning over him and shouting in Sigler’s face.”

Based on the ACLU letter sent to the school district, “Mr. Moser stopped his attack after a school resource officer and Chris’ mother intervened, and that Mr. Moser eventually agreed not to suspend Chris only on the condition that he leave the school grounds with his mother and not return for the rest of the school day.”

Maurice Moser, Principal

Maurice Moser, Principal, not a pal to SQHS students

When asked about the attack and why he wore the shirt, Sigler said, “All I want is to have a GSA at my school to help stop the bullying against gays and lesbians and their friends who support them. The shirt was a way to use my voice and show my support for the club. The way I was treated shows even more why we need a GSA here.”

Sigler couldn’t be more right. The courageous young man did nothing wrong. He is a level-headed young man, who is straight but who is also tired of seeing his friends, who happen to be homosexual, bullied at school. He was simply expressing his opinion and showing his support for something he believed in. He certainly didn’t deserve to be attacked by his principal, a man whose job it is to not only oversee the education of the children at his school, but who is also supposed to protect the children entrusted in his care from any threat on the school grounds.

As an educator, I find Moser’s actions reprehensible, and it makes me wonder about the safety of all children at schools across the country. Do we as parents now have to worry about educators and students bullying our children for being different? Are the people who we trust to protect our children not going to be there for them when they are needed the most, simply because our child might look different of believe differently from school officials?

If anyone thinks this might not happen to you or your child, it just might. You see, I have personal experience with this.

While I won’t name the school, my daughter attended a private elementary school in the town where we live. When she started Kindergarten, my ex-wife and I informed her teachers of our unique situation (at least unique for our part of the world), that I was gay and that we are both active parents in her life. My ex-wife and I agonized over this issue, but we felt it was the right thing to do in case our child started to talk about it among her classmates. We wanted the teachers to be there for her and for the other students, who may have asked them questions.

Unfortunately, in our efforts to protect her, we opened her up to the criticisms and attacks of those teachers and all her future teachers at that school. She was allowed to flail academically and received no extra help though other students in her class received special attention. For three years, we thought our child suffered from a learning disability until we learned that she was being singled out (or denied assistance) because of who her father was.

Naturally, we withdrew her from that school and she now thrives in an new school environment where my private life in no way affects her life at school. The entire school knows I’m gay. In fact, my husband serves on the Board for this school, and no one cares about our private life. Their only focus is educating every single child.

Isn’t that how all schools are supposed to operate? Unfortunately for Sigler and for my daughter, it’s not always the case.