The many faces of bullying
In writing this letter my goal is not to minimize the experiences of anyone bullied, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that being bullied for being the tall geeky guy, as Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba leader Brian Pallister described his experience with bullying, is much different than a student like myself who faces the fear of homophobia every day of my life.
Research shows that LGBTT* students are at a higher risk of skipping classes, failing and dropping out of school because they do not feel safe. As a result of this unsafe environment LGBTT* youth experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal feelings.
Brian Pallister thinks a Tall Geeky Guy Club wouldn’t have helped him when he was in school and that might be true, but what he seems to be missing is the important positive impact anti-bullying clubs or gay straight alliances can have when students join. Michael Rushinka from Sturgeon Heights Collegiate was right in his statement that some adults don’t live it, so they never really understand it or they have the assumption that because they dealt with it during their time in high school, why can’t we. Anti-bullying clubs or Gay Straight Alliances are groups where students can talk about the hatred, bullyingand issues that they are facing every day – realizing you are not alone is an important step towards self acceptance.
I want to end this letter by saying that Bill 18 is about much more than Gay Straight Alliances. It’s about protecting all students from bullying in the classroom, at school, outside of school and online. Bill 18 wont solve bullying as a whole in Manitoba, but it is another tool for students who may feel like they have no support at all.
– James Turowski
Words of Encouragement
To Tyler, the young man who was harassed while walking to Gios:
Tyler dude, you are going to run into assholes all the time. But imagine that in the late 80s people wore paper bags over their heads at the first gay pride in Winnipeg due to the fear of legally being fired, losing your apartment, or possibly even losing your kids.
Keep this in mind at the next gay pride. It’s not all about fun and games. It’s still political action so think about how far we have come in the last 30 years and think of where we will be in another 30 years. Keep speaking out about your experiences and speak up if it’s safe to do so. Keep your head up high, buddy, and you are not alone!