"But sympathy is not enough -- we all have a responsibility to take action and to keep working until all young people are safe and respected, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity."
What have we become as a nation when our children can torment their peers unto death? Where are the so-called "family values" espoused by so many? Is it a "family value" that encourages children to rage at those who are different so that another child, a son or daughter of another family is driven to suicide to escape their violence.
Asher Brown was only thirteen years old when he hid in a closet and shot himself in the head. Asher was a gay teen whose parents had repeatedly reported bullying of their child to both the teachers and administrators at his school to no effect. I watched a news conference in which the parents agreed to appear in their profound grief to warn other parents of both gay and straight teens to take reports of bullying seriously.
Children who bully other children because of race, religion or sexual orientation do not get their ideas of what is right and wrong from anywhere strange. Children, especially younger teens adopt the prejudices and stereotypes from their parents. When parents pass on a legacy of hate to their children, they shouldn't be surprised when their children act on that hate. In these four cases we have more than four victims. We have the children who were bullied into suicide, their parents and we have the children who did the bullying who must live the rest of their lives with the knowledge that they are responsible for the loss of a young life, essentially co-conspirators in a murder.
The fifth case of bullying that came to light this weeks is from the University of Michigan. I quote the Washington Post because the story is so unbelievable that it needs to be told from a respected source -
"Soon after University of Michigan students elected their first openly gay student body president this spring, a Michigan assistant attorney general started Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog to monitor the student leader's every move.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan alum, accuses Armstrong of being "a dangerous homosexual 'rights' extremist," among other things. Shirvell chronicles Armstrong's dating life, posts video taken outside the student's house, writes about Armstrong's family and follows the student's friends on Facebook. The first blog post features a photo of Armstrong overlaid with a rainbow flag and a swastika, plus the word "resign."
The state official is demanding that the student official resign. Students are demanding that the state official lose his job."
In my mind Mr. Shirvell is the type of person who would encourage his children to gay bash and perhaps cause a murder or suicide. What gives this man the right to harass a college student who makes decent grades and contributes to his academic environment. It is to the credit of the student, Chis Armstrong, that he has not crumbled under this harassment. But should Mr. Shirvell be allowed to continue to torment Mr. Armstrong? Or is the law going to wait until it becomes too much and there is a fifth tragedy? I would like to suggest that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) contact Mr. Armstrong and offer to help him pursue a suit against Mr. Shirvell for stalking and harassment. A suit such as this, would bring this type of behavior into the spotlight and perhaps stop future incidents of this type of outrage.
My sincere condolences to the parents, friends and families of the dead teens, I can not even begin to imagine your pain.