This is the second part of a two-part article. In the first installment, I talked about my personal experiences as far as being bullied. This installment will cover the recent documentary “Bully” as well as presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
“Bully” — the unrated documentary from Lee Hirsch tells the stories of young people and their families and their experiences with being bullied. We see the incidents happening, as well as hear from the kids and parents themselves about it. We learn about those who killed themselves, that found themselves overwhelmed with what was happening to them. We hear from teachers and school boards that don’t seem to care or don’t know how to handle the situation. Not easy to sit through, I found myself getting teary eyed when they were mentioning the names and ages of the deceased. This movie is a definite must-see. What I would have liked to have seen, was more about the bullies themselves and what their home life/family was like. Why do they do what they do?
I was wondering what my reaction was going to be to the movie, because of my past experiences. I did make me curious about what my parents knew of the situation when it was happening. I talked to my parents this week, and it was a good conversation. They know I had a hard time, but so did my Mom and my siblings too. I also wondered what became of my tormentors. If I saw them, would they apologize or just laugh it off as boys being boys?
Which brings me to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate. It has come to light in recent weeks, that Mitt was a bit of jerk in high school with his “pranks and hijinks” as he calls them. Romney led a group of boys that tackled John Lauber and cut off his bleached blond hair when they were students at a prestigious boarding school in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Eyewitnesses say that Lauber’s eyes were filling with tears as this was happening. Lauber stood out for his nonconformity and his perceived homosexuality. He is now deceased, so we can’t hear it from him what happened.
The Washington post also recounted another incident where Romney shouted “atta girl” at a different student who, years later, came out as gay. Romney apologized in a radio interview saying he was sorry for any “dumb things” he might have done “a long time ago.”
“It’s very clear that Mr. Romney doesn’t get it,” said Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which focuses on supporting LGBT youth. “Bullying, harassment and assault in schools are serious issues. His own behavior was deeply troubling when he was a student.”
I heard the apology, and he sounded anything but sincere. In fact, he seemed to chuckle some about the whole issue — Saying it was “hijinks and pranks.” Ask anyone who has been bullied if they would agree with his assessment of the situation. I am sure they would not. He was a bully then, and he is a bully now from my perspective. With his attitudes towards gays & lesbians, women, the working class — it is obvious how little he has changed.
In the past few years, there have been a rash of suicides by teenagers who have been bullied for being gay or perceived as gay. In 2009, GLSEN surveyed 7,261 middle and high school students and “found that at school nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.”
Please go see the movie, and while you’re at it, tell Mr. Romney to see it too. We need to make sure that we all treat each other with respect and compassion, despite our differences. We are all one in the human race.
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including the Real Men Wear Kilts line. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.