Early this morning I started seeing individuals posting tweets stating any new followers would mean a $1 donation to the Coalition to Protect All NC Families and the fight against Amendment 1.
Here’s the first one I saw:
Amendment 1 is the proposed measure in North Carolina that would prohibit recognizing same-sex marriages (already banned in the state) as well as all relationships between heterosexual unmarried couples including civil unions and domestic partnerships. The law, which comes up for a vote May 8, is an attempt to legalize bigotry by far-right Republicans.
Bloggers, activists, comedians, writers and supportive individuals across the social internet are coming together to fight Amendment 1, one follow at a time and $1 at a time.
By following any of the following people, another goes toward the fight.
I thought I was over the bullying. Past it. Two decades after high school, I figured I was at a point where I’d moved on.
And then the 20-year high school reunion invite hit my email, and a flood of memories and emotions left me fighting back tears.
I remembered having my hair nearly lit on fire in ninth-grade English by a classmate who sat behind me.
I remembered the name calling and the “accidental” shoves while walking down the school corridors.
I remembered the isolation I felt year after year of middle and high school, ostracized as the freak. I remember the thoughts of suicide.
And I remembered the bystanders, those who stood by while kids like me were bullied for being different.
The lesson I learned in school was harsh, but direct: Nobody will stand up for me except for me.
It’s nearly identical to a line I heard today while watching a screening “Bully” in Santa Cruz, Calif. The documentary examines the complex dilemmas families, schools and students face as bullied kids try to navigate and survive high school and middle school.
One 14-year-old boy, Devon, who endured years of name-calling didn’t find help from officials in his school.
“I had to stand up for myself for them to stop bullying me,” he said.
The stories of the kids featured in “Bully” are all too familiar for me both as a survivor of bullying and as a parent who watched my child being bullied, in part because he had two moms.
One boy, Alex, 12, whose story was featured prominently in the film, is bullied daily, enduring painful and humiliating rides on the bus to middle school.
“They push me so far that I want to become the bully,” he said.
Yet he doesn’t.
Not all the teens in the film showed such restrain.
Ja’Meya, a 14-year-old girl in Mississippi, also faced regularly bullying on her bus ride to and from school. One morning, she couldn’t take it anymore and she snapped.
“It feels like everybody just turned against me,” she explains in the film. “Nine or ten of ‘em just calling me stupid, and dumb, and they started throwing things at me. One of the guys said what he was going to do to me, and everybody would laugh, and I tell him to be quiet, and he kept talking, and that’s when I got up.”
She pulled her mom’s gun out and started waving it around.
For Ja’Meya, the consequences of her being bullied too much were immediate: Handcuffs and a trip through the legal system.
For 12-year-old Alex who still has many more years before he graduates, the bullying is something he continues to endure.
Both face potentially lifelong consequences for being the victim of bullying.
“If someone is constantly bullied, it can lead to something that is lifelong,” said Shane Hill, a Santa Cruz psychologist who spoke after Saturday’s screening downtown.
Hill works with youth who struggle with gender and identity issues and sees many who face bullying.
Battles with depression are common among those who were bullied, he said.
What to do
In Santa Cruz, middle and high schools address bullying in the classroom directly. Several schools in the county have gay-straight alliances, including Harbor High and Branciforte Middle schools. San Lorenzo Valley has a week-long student-run seminar for incoming freshman that address bullying.
Nevertheless, none of these serve as a magic pill. Children as young as Kindergarten are being harassed by their peers, even in bastions of liberalism like Santa Cruz.
Teachers, administrators and parents have some answers, but not all.
Each time a child takes their own life because he or she can no longer bear the brunt of bullying, we are reminded of the continuing battle and the need to speak up.
It gets better
For me, middle and high school were nightmares that I would like to forget. And honoring those memories with a high school reunion is out of the question.
It was after high school that I was finally able to be who I wanted to be without reprisal.
While I’d like to block out those hideous years, I can’t. It propels me to speak out and make sure my voice gets heard.
There are plenty of kids out there who are enduring similar tortures. There are those who have it much worse. And there are those who simply don’t survive.
I’ll be damned if my voice isn’t heard for all of them.
The message is simple: Enough is enough.
One in five gay and lesbian citizens of Taiwan attempt suicide as a result of discrimination, a new survey found.
And as many as 30 percent of Taiwan’s LGBT population has considered suicide as a viable option.
“Taiwan is not that open towards homosexuality,” said Wang Ping, secretary-general of Gender/Sexuality Rights Association of Taiwan, which sponsored the survey, according to an AFP story.
Nearly 60 percent of those survey said that they were frequent targets of verbal assaults, physical violence and sexual abuse.
While the survey is indicative of discrimination against the LGBT community, Taiwan is home to one of the largest Pride parades in the world, drawing tens of thousands every year.
Voter ID laws enacted in various states in recent months will make it tough for transgender citizens to vote in the next presidential election, a study published by the Williams Institute this month found.
As many as 25,000 transgender voters with face more barriers, and greater scrutiny, in providing photo ID to voting officials in nine states: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
“As lawmakers consider enacting stricter voter ID laws and contemplate their potential impact in the upcoming November elections, the consequences of these laws for transgender voters should not be overlooked,” said the study’s author Jody Herman, in a statement.
According to the study, 29 percent of transgender eligible voters have no identification that accurately reflects their gender.
Additionally, 41 percent of the respondents voted in previous elections said they were harassed (and 3 percent assaulted) after handing voting officials their ID that did not match their gender.
Herman said it’s likely that workers at polling stations will not be trained in dealing with voters who have identification that does not match the gender they are presenting.
“As election officials in these states begin planning for their fall elections, this research highlights the importance of educating poll workers in order to ensure that transgender voters in their states have fair access to the ballot,” said Herman.
One option transgender voters might pursue is obtaining a US passport, which recently revised the requirements for people who are transitioning gender. The revisions make it easier to obtain accurate ID, but the cost might be prohibitive for some people.