But the child’s sob in the silence curses deeper than the strong man in his wrath. Elizabeth Barrett Browning
It’s a troubling phenomenon: several gay teens have killed themselves in recent weeks after being harassed because of their sexuality. They were bullied. They were not accepted for who they were – children of God. As people of faith we are called to speak out against those who use their self-proclaimed power to intimidate, condemn, and belittle others. And it is important that we teach our children (of all ages) to respect others as Christ modeled in welcoming the stranger and embracing the outcast.
Our churches need to be safe places for adults, teens and children to learn how to practice tolerance; to understand our mission to respect the dignity of every human being. If the religious community can’t act and become a voice to all generations, we are just as guilty as those who cause the pain of others.
Some articles and resources to assist in the conversation. Don’t wait another day to begin the work. The lives of people (young and old) you know (and even more so, don’t know) depend on it.
Articles & Action:
- CNN is holding a weeklong look on bullying following the suicide of a student from Rutgers University. From their promotional material: Bullying is in our schools, and it’s online. Why do kids do it? What can be done to put an end to it? “AC360°” is special report in collaboration with PEOPLE Magazine, “Bullying: No Escape,” all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.
- Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue by Cody J. Sanders
- Preventing Tragedy in Our Schools by Al Franken in the Huffington Post.
- The Suicides posted on The Episcopal Cafe is an opinion piece as well as links to other organizations about how the Church can be a voice and advocate.
- Take Part: Inspiration to Action – The 5 Things You Need to Know About Gay Teen Suicide
- From “On Faith” in The Washington Post, “An open letter to religious leaders on gay youth suicides: it’s time to act out loud” by Debra W. Haffner
- “Faith, Hope and Love: Ending LGBT Teen Suicide” by Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D. from The Huffington Post.
Resources for Study and Conversation:
- The documentary Bullied, produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will premiere today, Oct. 5, in Washington, D.C. Bullied tells the story of Jamie Nabozny, a Wisconsin student who fought back against anti-gay bullying. Kick off National Bullying Prevention Month by ordering your school’s free copy of Bullied here.
- Download the Study Guide for Bullied, which gives a definition of bullying, how to identify someone who may be a victim, and how to assess your school (or church) environment.
- The Trevor Project and It Gets Better website features video clips of LGBT adults sharing their own high school horror stories, while telling kids to stay alive because brighter days are coming. So far, there have been 131 videos posted and more than 300,000 views.
- Bully Bust is a program to stand up to bullying and promote upstander behavior.
- For the Bible Tells Me So is a film about the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families – including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. Discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, A study guide is also available for further discussion.
- Burst: Bullies and Mean Girls is a short-term study from Abingdon Press (United Methodist Church affiliation) for youth. It’s website also offers a variety of links including movies, books and other websites.
- If You Really Knew Me is a program that began in July 2010 on Tuesday evenings on MTV. Yes – MTV. Watch the trailer to see how you might tap into this program with your youth.
- The Golden Rule Pledge website offers bullying prevention resources for churches.
- From the New York Times (Dec. 5, 2010): Cyber-Bulling and What a Parent Can Do