Reaction to the Obama Bullying Conference

MarkAs 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.

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  1. In 1996, my family fought our school district to change the discrimination policy changed to include the words “sexual orientation or perceived…” My 16 year old son, out in high school, stood before a panel of bigots in a room full of outraged citizens demanding to include wording to protect our children, while a small group of closed-minded individuals tried to teach the point that if we putting wording in for that group, then we should put wording in for fat kids, and red heads, and not-so-good-looking, etc. The end result was instead of making a strong, solid anti-harrassment policy that would protect all, they voted to water down the policy by removing all language. It read something like, “Harassment will not be tolerated by any person, for any reason at any time.” Two weeks later my son was attacked and we learned quickly that “harassment” is subjective. That policy has since changed, however, the attitudes and behaviors of those entrusted to enforce it hasn’t changed all that much.

    Fast forward to 2011. My 11 year old 6th grade, who is the son of 2 out gay men is under attack constantly. He’s being picked on, pushed around, pushed to tears more recently, and his grades, curiously, went from AB Honor Roll to D’s and F’s. We had to change schools because once because it had gotten so bad. What does a parent do when the bullies are the staff, the teachers? The people we entrusted to educate kid are targeting him because 1 of his dads has a big mouth and refuses to let a teacher walk all over him. When the classroom abuse of a teacher was reported to the principal, and it was backed up by 3 classmates, my son began receiving similar treatment from different staff.

    I had my very last meeting, parent teacher meeting, with counselor and principal yesterday (Friday), and my next meeting is with the superintendent.

    I wasn’t moved by the White House conference. It was nice having panelist from known places, however, it doesn’t take research to say what the affects of being bullied will have on a kid. It takes experience and common sense. It wouldn’ve been nice to hear more about what to do, how to stop it, etc. That’s not even my main point. I didn’t hear anything about staff on kid bullying – nothing.

    Staff on kid bullying in schools is the elephant in the middle of the living room. During my meeting yesterday, a teacher kept rolling her eyes. First, she did it to my husband, then she did it to me. I told her to knock it off. So, it was nice, the conference spoke about LGBT stuff, but I wouldn’t start planning a parade.


    And this is Clark County, Las Vegas, Nevada that we’re in. And they wonder why Clark County School District is towards the bottom of the pit’s list.

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