It gets better
[Featured comment by Ragtime.]
Among the candidates who attended the “Stand Up to Youth Suicide” rally at the Courthouse Friday were Bonnie Neely, Virginia Bass, and Allison Jackson. The crowd was very large. Hundreds of people driving their cars past the Courthouse honked their horns in support. Only one yelled a negative remark.
Speakers addressed young people now living in hellish isolation and fear because they are being bullied due to their real or perceived differences from the norm. Speakers shared our own stories of the suffering we had endured – and the personal triumphs that had followed when we made the choice NOT to end our lives.
People listening there were both those who have been targets of bullying and those who are coming out now as allies of the bullied. The speakers urged the listeners to do something, take some action, to help get the message out to the young people who are most at risk. We learned that [gay] high school students are 4x more likely to be bullied than their straight peers and that LGBTQ kids from families where they are loved for who they are commit suicide 8x less often.
This problem is affecting some kids right now in our own Humboldt County schools. All children and teachers need to be taught not to look the other way when bullying happens. They need to realize that bullying can be as devastating in elementary and middle school as it is in high school.
Unless more people encourage all youth and all teachers and administrators (and dare I say all parents?) to become “peacemakers” we will continue to see the lives of vulnerable young people made into a living hell. The price society pays for damning these kids to loneliness and isolation can affect them for the rest of their lives – damaging their ability to trust and communicate with others – and so, damaging our society by cutting it off from the creativity and energy these young people should by rights be able to offer the world at large.
I said it can damage kids for the rest of their lives. But it does not have to steal their happiness from them.
Even for kids who are living in despair right now, whether they hear this message on YouTube or from a friend, parent, teacher, coach, or fellow-student, I hope they hear this message:
Whether you find your strength to overcome the bullies within yourself or by asking for the help of others, you can have a better life than what you have had so far. It gets better. Much better. Please keep yourself safe. There is a world of people you will eventually find who respect you for who you are.
And remember, that applies to you whether you have been bullied and tormented because you are LGBTQ or perceived to be LGBTQ – or whether you have been bullied and tormented because of any real or perceived difference between you and the bullies.
Your life is precious. There is only one of you in the world. You are here not just for one reason, but for many, many reasons. People who you haven’t even met yet will look to you for advice some day, maybe even about how you survived the bullying that today seems to overwhelm your life. So have faith in yourself and the future, please!
[Photos by Richard “Rick” Khamsi. For more info see itgetsbetterproject.com.]