Having taught gay classes, I am very pleased that the problems of bullying have finally come up to the surface. I have been very familiar how gays have been treated by their classmates and sometimes even by their parents. I have also been aware that although many students have reported their abuse to higher authorities in their schools, nothing had been done about it.
An article in the Los Angeles Times got my attention today when I read that a New Jersey Senate has approved anti bullying legislation. This bill requires school teachers and other staff members to receive training in suicide prevention and learning how to deal with bullying. The plan is to install anti bullying programs.
It is good to know that of all the bills that have not had bipartisan support recently, this one does. It has bipartisan support in the Legislature. It now moves for votes in the full Senate.
Along with the news about the bill in New Jersey, it is also good to know that there is a joint campaign sponsored by Barnes & Noble Booksellers and ADL (Anti Defamation League) to break the cycle of hate through reading. Through their joint effort, they hope to provide resources and programs to help end prejudice and discrimination in America.
The ADL published a pamphlet called “Close the Book on Hate—101 Ways to Combat Prejudice.” In this pamphlet, there are suggestions for parents, schools, in the workplace, in Your House of Worship, and in the community.
Some of the suggestions that were given for schools were: Hold a T-Shirt contest to come up with a logo or slogan like, “I Don’t Put Up With Put-Downs.” the winning T-shirt design could be printed and sold at your school bookstore or at community events.
Establish a Diversity Club that serves as an umbrella organization to promote harmony and respect for difference was another suggestion. There could be a membership drive to encourage students of different races, culture, religions and gays and lesbians.
Students and teachers can get together and decide what they can do to promote harmony and discourage bullying.
Another idea is to form a group where students and teachers can discuss individual differences. This could include students with learning disabilities, physical problems, gays, lesbians, and trans-genders. Each individual can discuss their feelings, their experiences as to how they have been hurt, etc. After they have become familiar with one another as to their difficulties, they can invite others who don’t have these problems. Hopefully this can promote some empathy and discourage the bullying that has been so prominent in the schools and elsewhere.
Source: Los Angeles Times, a pamphlet, Close the Book on Hate, and my own ideas