We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up. Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children.

Stonewall #NoBystanders — Watch the film, join the movement and take a stand (by stonewalluk)

TW: slurs, racism

"At Stonewall, we want to put an end to bullying, abusive language and discrimination of all kinds. Watch the film, join the #NoBystanders movement and take a stand."

Ryan Dolan - Start Again [Official Music Video] (by Ryan Dolan)

Singer/songwriter Ryan Dolan, Ireland’s entrant in Eurovision, who recently came out as gay.

TW bullying, talk of suicide


Student files $25,000 suit against Ontario high school
Christopher Karas suffered humiliation and mental anguish over school’s actions, suit alleges

A gay Mississauga student has filed a $25,000 discrimination complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against his high school and school board, alleging a pattern of anti-gay bias.

Christopher Karas is a Grade 12 student at École Secondaire Catholique Ste-Famille who says he has faced disparaging comments from students and teachers and attempts to prevent him from establishing a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at the school.

Karas first came to media attention last year after his school administrators censored posters for his GSA, which included a quote from Harvey Milk. The quote read, “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

But Karas’s complaint against the board alleges a pattern of discriminatory actions going back to the 2011/12 school year. In that year, Karas, who had come out as gay in his school, attended an overnight school trip where students were to share hotel rooms. Some of Karas’s male classmates were reassigned out of his hotel room after they said they’d be uncomfortable sharing a room with him because of his sexual orientation. Karas was also the target of homophobic bullying on the trip, the case alleges.

The complaint also alleges that a religious instructor “made homophobic statements such as … ‘Gay people should not be permitted to adopt children’” and that a psychology teacher refused to discuss same-sex parenting in a class about family structures due to the school’s religious nature.

In another class, Karas was forced to read a novel called Poison, by Doric Germain, in which a teenaged boy is beaten by his father when he’s caught having sex with another boy. “The book generally suggests that Patrick’s life is out of control due to his homosexuality and he himself realizes that his sexual-orientation will inevitably prevent him from leading a normal life,” the suit alleges.

The complaint also alleges that the school administration worked to undermine Karas’s fledgling GSA, “Porte Ouverte,” and quotes statements given by the principal to Xtra at the time. The administration also allegedly retaliated against Karas’s attempts to assert his rights by refusing to sign off on his community hours log.

Since the suit was filed, Karas alleges that the school board has blocked dailyxtra.com from being accessed on the school’s WiFi network. Xtra was the first news source to report on Karas’s complaints, in December 2013.

Karas acknowledges that he will have graduated by the time the tribunal makes its decision but hopes he leaves a legacy for future gay students. “I want to see the school board and the school put in place a culture of acceptance. I want them to teach love and not hate in our school.”

In addition to the monetary damages, the complaint seeks a letter of apology, a harassment and discrimination policy, mandatory sensitivity training, gender-neutral washrooms in all schools and removal of the book Poison from the curriculum.

Neither the school’s principal nor the school board is willing to comment on the case. The Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud released a statement saying that it has not yet received the complaint but that it intends to analyze it and respond to the Human Rights Tribunal.

Florida teen who stood up for gay student suspended for 10 days
TW violence, gay bashing,
A Florida high school footballer who jumped in to protect a gay student who was being bullied has been suspended for 10 days even though the bully has been charged by police with battery
Mark Betterson
Photo by Fox4

A Florida high school student has been suspended for 10 days for protecting a gay student from a bully who was attacking him.

Mark Betterson was suspended under East Lee County High School’s mandatory suspension policy for anyone involved in a fight despite the fact he was stepping in to protect openly gay Jonathan Colon from being assaulted by 18-year-old James Griffin – another student at the school.

Griffin called Colon a series of anti-gay slurs and threw a carton of milk in his face before punching him in the head and the back of the head in the incident on Thursday.

That’s when Betterson, decided he needed to step in and do something.

‘If I didn’t jump into it, it would have got serious,’ Betterson told WFTX Fox4, ‘It would have been worse than what he got.’

‘Jonathan was just going to stand there and get beat up … if I didn’t jump into it.

‘I was just trying to break up the whole thing because its not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is. That’s not really called for.’

Betterson said he had only gotten physical when Griffin had begun throwing punches at him too.

‘He swung at me and was like you can get it too so we got into a fight,’ Betterson said.

Betterson said he understood the school’s policy but thought that 10 days suspension was unfair when all he was trying to was protect another student.

‘I understand [it’s] because how the school policy is, but to be suspended for 10 days, I don’t understand. I’m not going to stand there and watch somebody get bullied.’

Betterson said, despite his suspension, he wouldn’t hesitate to intervene to protect someone from bullying again.

Betterson is on East Lee County High School’s football team and Colon and he were not previously friends.

Colon told WINK News that he was blown away by Betterson’s actions and organized a protest at the school in support of him.

‘I was protected by someone who had no reason to protect me,’ Colon said.

We have nothing in common – he’s on the football team and I’m the flamboyant gay boy.’

Betterson is appealing the length of his suspension.

Police charged Griffin with battery after reviewing security camera footage of the incident.

The study, published by Manchester Business School and Plymouth University this week, interviewed over 1200 lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the UK, and found reports of bullying were far higher than among straight colleagues.

Gay-straight alliances reduce suicide risk among all students: study

Student-led clubs and anti-homophobia policies found to lower odds of discrimination

By Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun January 20, 2014

Gay-straight alliances reduce suicide risk among all students: study

Both gay and straight students in Canadian schools are less likely to have suicidal tendencies when explicit anti-homophobia interventions such as school-based gay-straight alliances (GSAs) are in place, according to a University of B.C. study.

“This study looked across school districts provincewide and looked at gay-straight alliances and anti-homophobic polices, suicidal thoughts and attempts by both gay and heterosexual students,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, lead author of the study and professor with the UBC school of nursing.

“What we found was when these policies were in place for three years or longer, discrimination based on sexual orientation had lower rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts, and also for heterosexual boys,” Saewyc said Monday.

“For heterosexual boys, the odds of suicide attempts dropped by 48 per cent, 28 per cent for suicidal thoughts.”

She said her study concluded that there was no specific effect on heterosexual girls where school-based GSAs were in place.

Gay-straight alliances are student-led clubs that aim to make the school community a safer place for all students regardless of sexual orientation. Their members include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their straight allies.

Read More

Dr Ussher warned that if schools failed to act it would lead to a “hugely increased risk of bullying and abuse; isolation and rejection – all leading to significantly increased levels of depression, self-harm and suicide”.

He added: “We must acknowledge we are facing a crisis. Schools have a key role to play in providing inclusive environments for all young people with zero tolerance of bullying and discrimination and by eliminating the fear of it through education and support.”

LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell said the project’s findings “should be a wake-up call for the Education Secretary, Michael Gove”. “Every school should be required to teach sex and relationship education that addresses LGBT issues.”

Chris Colfer & Elmo Talk About Bullying (by Sesame Street In Communities)

"When someone is mean to Elmo’s friend, Chicken, Elmo looks to an adult (Chris Colfer) for advice on what he can do to help his friend."

(via Angry mom wants harassment of transgender child to stop – LGBTQ Nation)

"LeVan said that some parents of Keat’s classmates at Highland Elementary School in Morrow County, had written derogatory messages, including “I am terribly ticked that the parents are allowed to send their boy to school as a girl and put him in this embarrassing situation” and “This is child abuse!”

When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

My son is six and a half years old.  He’s been potty trained with nary an accident since exactly his third birthday.

Last week, in his first grade classroom, he peed his pants.  He sat in his urine until the dismissal bell rang.  His pants were soaked and cold when he got out of school.  He was uncomfortable and he smelled.  He didn’t want anybody to know.  It was his secret.

He started crying in the car.

“I’m so ashamed of myself,” he said over and over again.  Tears rolled down his face, even though he willed them not to.  He couldn’t hold them back.

Come to find out, my son — with his long auburn hair, pink and purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets – is terrified to use the boys’ bathroom at school.

photo 1

On his first visit to the boys’ bathroom, he headed straight for the safety of the stall.  Boys started peeking through the cracks in the stall to see if he was going pee or poop.  Pooping at school is an embarrassment.  He avoided the bathroom for as long as he could.  The next time he had to go, he, again, walked straight to the stall.  He locked the door behind him.  He lifted the toilet seat lid and unzipped his pants.  He could hear them talking.  He could hear them looking.  He turned around.  Boys were peeking through cracks again.  This time they were trying to see his genitals.  They wanted to know if my son has a penis or a vagina.

My son refuses to go into the boys’ bathroom again.  He has stopped drinking his juice boxes at lunch.  He refuses to drink anything at breakfast.  He’ll do anything to not have to use the boys’ bathroom at school.  He’ll do anything to avoid having strangers look at his private parts while taking bets as to what they’ll see when they get to see something.

I’m sure you can understand why my son is not comfortable using the boys’ restroom at school.  He wouldn’t be comfortable using the girls’ restroom either.  Because he identifies as male, the girls’ bathroom doesn’t feel like the place for him.

Read More

Posted: 11/13/2013 4:20 pm


Dear sweet Sequoia family,

As many of you know already, my 18-year-old child Sasha was seriously burned on Monday afternoon. Sasha woke from a nap on the 57 bus to find that, apparently, another passenger — accidentally or on purpose — had lit Sasha’s skirt on fire. Sasha is now in stable condition and being very well cared for in a terrific burn center in San Francisco. We have every reason to believe that Sasha will eventually be able to return to life as usual, although the recovery process will take some time.

I wanted to take this time to send thanks to everyone who has offered words of support and love. And many even contributed to the online fundraising site set up by Sasha’s cousin Josh. I can’t tell you how moved we have all been by the outpouring of loving kindness, and how helpful that has been.

I also wanted to address how to talk to your kids about this incident. It’s in the news, and especially since it involves a Sequoia family, it may come up at school.

I think it’s really important to keep in mind that none of us can know the mind, motivations, or intentions of the person who set flame to Sasha’s clothing. Oakland Police have a 16-year-old high school student in custody, based on video camera footage from the bus. As far as I know, police are the only people who have viewed the footage. I certainly haven’t, so I can only guess at what happened. At this point, I choose to assume that this kid was playing with fire, and that he gravely underestimated the consequences of that. Others may make different assumptions, but it’s important to remember that they are all just that: assumptions. So when I talk to my students about this, I will emphasize the importance of fire safety: “Don’t play with matches or lighters.” And of course, “Stop, drop, and roll if your clothing catches fire.”

Another aspect of this story that has gotten a lot of attention is the fact that Sasha was wearing a skirt, “even though” Sasha appears to be a boy. The fact is that Sasha self-identifies as “agender” and prefers the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their” when people refer to Sasha in the third person. (English doesn’t have commonly used gender-neutral third-person singular pronouns yet.) Being agender simply means that the person doesn’t feel that they are “either a boy or a girl.” I realize that this is a concept that even adults have difficulty wrapping their heads around. (My wife and I frequently slip up in our pronoun usage, much to Sasha’s chagrin!) So I can’t pretend that it’s an issue that all young children will grasp. But what they certainly can and should understand is that different people like different things. Different people dress or behave or look differently. And that’s a good thing. Sasha feels comfortable wearing a skirt. It’s part of their style. They also frequently sport a necktie and vest. Sasha likes the look, and frankly, so do I. It makes me smile to see Sasha being Sasha.

As I wrote above, none of us can know the mind of the kid who lit a flame to Sasha’s skirt, but I have a feeling that if he had seen Sasha’s skirt as an expression of another kid’s unique, beautiful self and had smiled and thought, “I hella love Oakland,” I wouldn’t be writing this now.

Again, many thanks for all of your love and kindness. Let’s all take care of each other.

Karl Fleischman

Le Monde en face : Harcèlement à l’école - France 5 (BA) (by Administrateur Francetv)

A promo for a documentary on bullying in schools that recently aired on France 5.

TW: bullying

Male cheerleader forced to quit, change schools over ‘gay’ bullying
A 13-year-old boy and his mother is taking action against school district for failing to do enough to protect him
BB and his mother are taking legal action against the school district in Kentucky.

A 13-year-old male cheerleader was forced to quit and leave his school just because bullies thought he was gay.

The middle school student, known as BB, from Louisville, Kentucky, is taking action against the school district.

When he joined the cheerleading squad at his first school, he was the only male in the squad.

Perceived to be gay, bullies relentlessly tortured him in and out of the classroom.

‘It was in the classroom, it was in the cafeteria, and it was in the hallway too,’ he told WDRB.

‘One time I was even practicing and they were chasing me in the squad auditorium.’

BB’s mother has hired a family attorney, who specializes in anti-bullying cases.

Ted Gordon is going to represent the family, after she said the school did not ‘adequately protect her son’.  

She said: ‘This is my son and I love him and I don’t care what he does as long as it’s positive and it’s nothing that’s going to end [up with] him in a juvenile detention center’.

Gordon filed an order for protection in Jefferson County Circuit Court and is asking a judge to order the school district JCPS to protect the student from all harassment.

JCPS claims they have done everything in its power to protect the teen, and believes the protection order filed in court would be ‘impossible’ to fulfil.

They have also changed the teen’s schedule, occasionally escorting him around school, and sending a school counselor to cheer practice and to monitor possible bullying.

The district also highlighted it has held meetings with parents of the victim and the alleged bullies.

BB now attends Holmestead North, which has no cheerleading team, but the harassment still continues.