As I listen and blog along with the Obamas’ Conference on Bullying tears are coming to my eyes.
When students were tormenting me in my high school hallways, calling me faggot, queer, and sissy, I never, never ever for one second, thought I would see the day that our president would be addressing this issue in collaboration with LGBTQ rights advocates – from the White House!
I am elated that during the question and answers session real experts (not ideologues) are advocating for holistic measures to combat bullying rather than so-called “zero tolerance” policies that focus mostly on punishment rather than prevention.
I know that the youth who bullied me were suffering from mental health issues, violence at home, extreme poverty, and other stressful situations that needed to be addressed with compassion. I never once thought that simplistic punishments of the kids who were bullying me would eliminate the isolation I felt.
The experts on the panel today are advocating for simple reporting of bulling, comprehensive prevention measures like building relationships with students, and addressing the mental health and issues that all students may be facing.
Despite my long list of frustrations I have of the Obama administration, I deeply sincerely thank them for showing leadership on the issue of bullying. Thank you President Obama from the bottom of my heart. Thank you on behalf of all of us who have ever considered taking their own lives due to bullying.