Tag Archive: bullying

Watch: Glee deals with Bullying

I’m posting an entire episode of Glee below. And that’s because Glee, which I’m posting via hulu-com, is dealing with bullying. And in New Jersey, so are we. Bullying young gay men, how that hurts, and some of the reasons why other young men taunt gay kids. And why some people make fun of women and girls, and how that hurts. Honestly, it’s perfectly timed as New Jersey gets ready for Monday’s hearings, as Steven Goldstein writes – in both the Assembly and Senate on the same day – of the Anti-bullying Bill of Rights, which has bi-partisan support in both houses. What’s remarkable about Glee, to me, is its subtext about diversity and acceptance, and not only of gay kids, but all kinds of kids. It’s a refreshing, welcoming and very warming experience. And last night’s episode left me inspired for Monday’s State House lobbying day, called by Garden State Equality, to get kids’ backs when they’re being bullied.

There are a few commercials. Deal with it.

28 Senate sponsors for the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights

Some more fantastic news on our bipartisan Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.  (See video below)  Two weeks ago , as you know, the bill was introduced with 43 Assembly sponsors – now up to 46, five more Assembly members than needed for passage.  Today was the first day since then that the Senate had a quorum and that the chief Senate sponsors, Barbara Buono, Diane Allen and Loretta Weinberg, could officially introduce the bill.  In truly awesome news, the bill was introduced today with 28 Senate sponsors, seven more Senators than needed for passage.  The sponsors include 11 of the Senate’s 16 Republicans.  We hope to have additional news on the bill’s progress soon.  This legislation is going to help every student whose life has been made hell by bullying.  We are overjoyed.

I’m committed. Are you?

Interesting and sensitive questions from some well-informed students at Westfield High School. Parents should be proud. – promoted by Rosi

Two weeks ago, I posted on Blue Jersey about the need to protect our young people from the bullying and harassment that leads many teens to depression or suicide.  This week, I had an interesting exchange with teenagers at Westfield High School about what we can do to make things better, both on a government level and on a personal level.

This past Thursday, I visited Westfield High School to speak to a group of nearly 300 students about the political process and the issues facing our county.  

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National Coming Out Day- Come out against Bullying and Homophobia

I didn’t know until today that Ed was once the Residence Counselor at Davidson, the dorm Tyler Clementi lived in. A few years earlier, and it might have been Ed that Tyler came to for help. Breaks my heart. – promoted by Rosi

As you may know, Monday October 11 is National Coming Out Day.  The annual day encourages young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning to feel comfortable being open about who they are.  Sadly, we know all too well that for many, coming out isn’t easy or safe.  Last week, the senseless death of Tyler Clementi was an unfortunate reminder that too many GLBTQ young people do not feel safe or welcome in this world.  It breaks my heart that he was made to feel unwelcome at Rutgers, my own alma mater.  It has been heartening to see the gay and straight communities come together in the wake of Tyler’s suicide to condemn the bullying and violence that makes our young people feel alone and unsafe.  But we must continue working together to ensure that the coming out process for our young people is more accepting.  Thousands of teens and young adults like Tyler face bullying and violence every day simply because of who they are.  This has to end.

Teenagers are dying because they are gay.  Tyler was not the only life lost this month because of gay related bullying or violence. This is unacceptable.  

National Coming Out Day is a call to arms for both the gay and straight communities.  We must commit to making the world safe for all of our children.  We have to make sure that children and young adults grow up knowing that they are loved and welcome for who they are.  And we must repudiate intolerance from the start, so that more children grow up knowing that homophobia, hatred and bullying are unacceptable.  As Harvey Milk once said, “all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”  Milk said this over thirty years ago, but the sentiment is timeless, and we are clearly not there yet.  We still have work to do make this a reality.

Earlier this week, I filmed a video for Dan Savage’s “It gets better” project.  I’d like to share it with you:  

We all have to work together to ensure that for those who are preparing to come out and those who are already out, it WILL get better.

Remembering And Feeling Sad

By all reports, Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood, New Jersey was a young man of great promise and enormous talent.  Can we imagine what desperate feelings Tyler might have been experiencing as he drove to that spot on the George Washington Bridge? Can we imagine secretly having our most intimate moments photographed and sent viral over the internet? Can we imagine being 18, just starting college and finding out your roommate “spied” on you with a hidden camera to make the pictures into a “joke”?  How desperately sad for Tyler and his family and indeed for all of us.

What could have made these two young college students think this cruel idea was a “funny prank”?

We’ve all asked each other the most appropriate questions. We’ve written and talked about how in our State gay folks do not have all the same rights as the rest of us do!  We comment on people who think being gay is a choice which can be “cured”!  We know how some in our community still think they can bully and torment others, snicker and make them the brunt of awful jokes. Tyler Clementi’s suicide is being discussed in the national media.  The higher incidence of suicide among gay teenagers is dissected.  A new blog by Perez Hilton called “It Gets Better” was announced on CNN (and even on Fox News), and is designed  to reach out to gay teens.

People are asking should the two idiots who dreamed up this horror be prosecuted under hate crime laws. Should our laws be re-written or changed?   We know that Garden State Equality has been working with Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Valerie Vaineri Huttle to re-work our anti-bullying law to make it more appropriately stringent.

How will we work to build a community where these laws won’t be so necessary? This week I don’t have very many answers.  As an affilliated Jew in the Bergen/Hudson area, I receive a weekly newspaper which I greatly respect:  The Jewish Standard. Last week they printed their first engagement announcement of a gay couple. This week, they announced that they will not do “this” again. Their editor’s note said they received many letters of condemnation as well as letters of support, but because of the sensitivities expressed by a strong segment of leaders in our religious community, they do not want to divide the community or offend these sensitivities. That is certainly their editorial right to do so. But coming in the same week as Tyler Clementi’s suicide, it makes me even more sad.

So here’s a letter to the Jewish Standard, written by Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, a member of our Teaneck community:

Letter & rest of diary after the jump:

A Community Mourns Together

As New Jersey and the nation continue to mourn the death of Tyler Clementi – a tragedy that has hit so many of us so close to home, the community will have the chance to share our collective grief over the loss of a bright young light, gone too soon.

Next week, Garden State Equality is joining with State Legislators, and leaders of state and national organizations, for two Town Meetings in Memory of Tyler Clementi:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm

New Brunswick – Rutgers University Student Center

Multi-Purpose Room, 126 College Avenue

Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Ridgewood, New Jersey – Tyler’s hometown

St. Elizabeth’s Church, 169 Fairmount Road

The Town Meetings will offer the opportunity for the self-reflection, remembrance, and community empowerment. I commented earlier that I remain at a loss for words days after the tragic news of the death of Tyler Clementi. I’m hoping the words of others will help make sense of what has become our state’s collective grief.

Participating organizations include: BiGLARU (Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Alliance at Rutgers), Delta Lambda Phi, Rutgers HiTOPS, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, LLEGO, Queer People of Color at Rutgers, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG, Queer Coalition Rutgers and The Trevor Project. And surely more will join.

No RSVP is necessary for either event. But, I can say for certain I will be there.

Legislators set the tone for bullying

Barocas, Legal Director of NJ’s ACLU, suggests our Governor look in the mirror, and our Senate President’s words ring hollow. – promoted by Rosi

It didn’t take long for my feelings of horror and sadness at the suicide of Tyler Clementi to turn into anger – anger not just at the unfeeling young students who so cruelly invaded Tyler’s privacy, but at our state’s leaders who, through their refusal to provide gay and lesbian citizens with full equality, have stigmatized gay and lesbian relationships and set the tone for tragedies like this to occur.

A line from my testimony to the New Jersey legislature during the 2009 marriage equality debate echoed hauntingly in my mind:

“When the state itself segregates people, it grants the rest of society permission to do the same. Through its example, the legislature excuses bigotry and emboldens bullies.”

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Bullying is not just “kids being kids”

The Assemblywoman’s legislation is based, as she says, on the Report titled There Isn’t a Moment to Lose, from the NJ Office of the Child Advocate, which of course Gov. Christie eliminates in his budget. Readers can click to read the Report, but I wonder if the Assemblywoman would offer more detail on how she sees the way to approach the problem, as addressed in her legislation?

– – Promoted from the diaries by Rosi

UPDATE: Asw Huttle quickly replied to my question, above, and posted the key elements of her legislation in the Comments. Check them out here.

Last week I read about a school in Mississippi that was ordered to desegregate. As stunning as that is in 2010, to me, that’s just as embarrassing as the fact that our state continues to perpetuate a separate and unequal system by denying its residents real marriage equality.

I’m as disappointed as most of you are about the failure of our legislature to act last year. There’s no excuse for it. And though that fight now returns to the courts, there’s still work the legislature needs to do to achieve justice for all our residents. That includes our kids.

Our state has tried in the past to address the problem of bullying, but more needs to be done. That’s why since December I’ve been working on comprehensive anti-bullying legislation which implements a number of recommendations included in the final report of the NJ Commission on Bullying in Schools.

This is a life and death issue, and as I noted in Sunday’s Record, it is time to once and for all shed the mentality that bullying is just kids being kids.

It’s important that we get this right to protect our kids from intimidation and harassment. Please ask your legislators to work on a bipartisan basis to support strong anti-bullying legislation.