271 schools “speak out” against LGBTQ bullyiing in Pennsylvania

It is the Day of Silence.  The Post Gazette reports on a new Pennsylvania study with startlingly sad stats on bullying experienced around gayness.  It doesn't even matter if the kids are LGBTQ; just being picked on for the perception is awful enough. 98% of those surveyed report hearing “gay” used in a negative way. Surprised?  I”m not.  I hear it all the time from the lips of adults and the vitriol of folks like Diane Gramley and other Christo-bigots. 

271 students Students at 271 schools are brave enough to speak out by participating in the Day of Silence.  Given that legislative “leaders” around the Commonwealth are fearful of protecting LGBTQ adults from abuse and discrimination, is it that surprising that school leaders, elected and not, follow suit?

Really?

Is it surprising given that a LGBT leader think using the term “bipolar” as a descriptive of behavior rather than a clinical diagnosis is acceptable?  As in a person's behavior being bipolar/gay even if the ignorant bully has no clue if the person is bipolar/gay.  It doesn't matter after all because the slur hits home.  Bullying.  It is the same damn thing.

Really?

These folks could use a few lessons from the 271 students who would probably recognize that as a bullshit argument. 

These kids are heroes.  Not the kind on TV, but the kind you hope will stay in Pittsburgh to go to school and go on to join boards and take leadership roles.  The kind who learn from the experience of being bullied and channel that into constructive advocacy.  The kind who acknowledge the painful process of growing up gay and deal with it by fighting back.

West Mifflin Area High School was a tough place to be gay in the 1980s.  Some coped by never, ever talking about their LGBTQ identity.  Some coped by being the gay class clown to deflect humiliation by laughing at their own stereotype.  Some just survived by whatever resiliency they could muster.  There were no GSAs.  Even now, I know exactly four openly queer alumni and one of those died a year ago.  Five including me. 

Maybe we should have a Day of Silence in the workplace and places of public accommodation so the general public realizes how many LGBTQ folks live in Pittsburgh.  I'm out at work so it might not be impactful there, but I guess the whole point is to give voice to those who remain silenced every day by bigotry.  That's happening right now in Allegheny County. 

Sad.  Kudos to these kids.

In another item in today's Post-Gazette, syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman reminds us of how DOMA looms over state sanctioned marriage, denying federal benefits.  We get hit with this every year when our “income” includes my health insurance premiums because the federal government considers those taxable even as our married friends enjoy pre-tax health insurance coverage.  It sucks.

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Update:  Error on my part.  271 Pennsylvania schools participated in the Day of Silence, not 271 students.  Thanks for the catch.  I met a teacher last night who told me about her students participating.  Pretty awe inspiring stuff.

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  • Adults use all types of insulting language so how can we expect more from kids? In the last hour, my coworkers have described someone as “white trash” “retarded” and “a mental case.” One of those people is a lesbian. Those are the words their kids absorb and bring into the schools. Don't pull all the blame on the teachers.

  • Yes, because the source of your premiums is a legally reocgnized status under the federal government. Being divorced means you were legally married. Queer couples married or not are not recognized at the federal level which means all the money spent to provide health insurance for me is considered taxable income. This applies to unmarried heterosexual couples who have domestic partner benefits as well. It is unfair.
    This is why marriage is a working class issue. Affordable health insurance means two different things if you are talking pre or post tax income.

  • Shelly,
    You are right. These words and phrases are hurtful to children and adults. I still remember the cruel things kids said to me in childhood. Adults in all walks of life need to set better examples and think about the iimpact of their words on other people. Including preachers and parents.
    When I think of the things teachers did say in the 1980's … I can't believe they got away with so much hurtful behavior. Thank goodness things have changed.

  • I had to write in to say that 271 SCHOOLS have students participating! There are way more than 271 students participating in Day of Silence in PA! 50+ kids in my school alone participated, and that's a small number compared to many schools. Yes, DoS is sadly necessary after 14 years. But DoS organizers and participants are doing amazing things in schools. Let's applaud them and hope that someday soon we can retire DoS.

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