When Will the Bullying End?

“Being bullied? Just act less gay, advise teachers.” This was the headline of a recent article in the London Evening Standard.

This headline leaves one to question, what is our society is coming to? Is it not okay to be different? Is expressing yourself as you are, frowned upon because it might alienate you from your peers?

Teachers are supposed to advocate for their students, lend guidance and are looked upon as mentors.

Schools are supposed to be a place that honors diversity and the unique quality that encompasses each child.

According to the article, “School children bullied over their sexuality are being advised by teachers to act less gay,” and given the advice “to wear their hair differently” as teachers felt they were making themselves a target for bullies.

Intrigued, I decided to read on and when I was finished with the article –something interesting started to happen- my mind started to change. Surprising, I started debating to myself, is this right? Is this wrong?

What the hell am I thinking? Of course it is wrong! But is it?

On one hand, I feel as though these teachers were completely out of line, by a lack of sensitivity to the issues that homosexual adolescents face.

On the other hand, I realized that their intentions were right because they wanted to have in place interventions that would help the student avoid being bullied. Obviously, these teachers need much training in this area. The article referenced that, “Teachers received very little training at college around bullying and most would welcome additional support and guidance.”

According to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, “two thirds of lesbian, gay and transgender students had suffered bullying, and 17 percent had received death threats.”

At the conclusion of this article, several ethical dilemmas arose. If society starts to impose ideas that the way one dresses, acts, speaks and gestures will predispose them as a target, then I feel that our fundamental freedoms will be infringed upon.

I automatically recalled stories in the news that cited that when a woman was raped, a police officer stated that it might have because of the provocative clothing she was wearing. Was it his ignorant assumption that “she was asking for it?”

Additionally, I have observed friends who lived in poor areas who were bullied because they had designer bags.

I observed classmates being bullied because their shoes were not of the latest trend.

Bullying issues are rampant in schools.

Schools need to devise programs that would sensitize and train teachers how to recognize and prevent bullying. Students need training on how to protect themselves and ask for an adult’s guidance if, they are a target.

Overall, offering education around the issue of bullying will beneficial because it will open ones frame of reference and universally make everyone much more mindful.