Monday, November 08, 2010

On Bullying

When I was growing up, you got bullied if you were:
Too fat
Too skinny
Too smart
Too stupid
Too poor
Too rich
Too good
Too mean
Too dirty
Too clean
Too clumsy
Too tall
Too short
Too religious
Not religious enough
Too white
A different color
A nerd
Bad at sports
Great at math
Wearing glasses
Having freckles
Kinky hair
Greasy hair
Big boobs
No boobs
A big schlong
A tiny schlong
A tomboy
A fag
A slut
A "nun"


Bullying is evil and should be eradicated whoever the victim, for whatever the reason.

Now, educators in certain mostly suburban school boards across the country recently decided to expand their guidelines against bullying in schools by including bullying against gay kids or gay parents, as it should be. And now some religious people are complaining that those guidelines are fostering a "hidden homosexual agenda".
I think the problem is in the approach, which invokes the teaching of tolerance to kids. To tolerate is to suffer someone else. We need to be more than tolerant. We need to respect others. Tolerance leaves the door open for plenty of dissent and interpretation. However, if we leave the touchy feely idea of tolerance aside and we use more emphatic terms, there is no argument.  Instead of telling children they need to be more tolerant of everyone around them, somebody should lay down the law:
You are not to pester, harass, harm, offend, threaten or hurt anybody physically or verbally, on the basis that they look, think, behave, believe, speak, dress, act, and love differently than you do.
(Because if you do, The Grande Enchilada is gonna personally show up and rip you to shreds, understood?)
After we lay down the law, we can certainly teach children to respect each others' differences and kumbaya, etc, etc.
Bullying because of sexual orientation needs to be included in every anti-bullying curriculum in every school in the universe, let alone the country. However, as long as we don't have federal laws in this country that protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, how can we expect society at large to follow suit? Our lawmakers are way behind the times in terms of the reality American citizens live in on a daily basis, in absolutely every aspect of their lives, at home, at school, in the workplace, at the doctor's office, in the hospital, in the army, everywhere.
As long as gay people don't have fully equal rights under the law, we are going to witness crazy, unproductive arguments like this until the end of time.

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