“I always say how bullied I am but no one listens. What do I have to do so that people will listen?”
– 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide on September 18, 2011
I took a blog break over the summer but I am back to work. I admit I have been quietly watching the media and tracking the lives of LGBTQ youth during the summer and up through these early days of the school year.
This most recent news story about the death, funeral, and post-mortem harassment of Jamey Rodemeyer at his school forced me to finally kick-start the old blog once again. This horrible and ongoing series of half-filled incidents indicate that after a year of raised public awareness it still simply put “gets better” primarily and consistently only if and when a child leaves school.
I often use the short film “Homecoming” from Media that Matters when talking about how very possible it is to have a safe school as well as how very simple it is to ignore the violent gender and sexuality environment in a school.
Schools must be held accountable for the education of youth about gender and sexuality diversity. And educational leaders must be held accountable for supervising and managing violent and hate-filled hallways where “different” students are verbally harassed, physically intimidated, and assaulted nearly daily while they attempt to pass through childhood and get an education.
Tracking this mess year after year takes a toll on me as an adult. I can only imagine the futility Jamey felt after moving to a place of self acceptance and beginning to use his own voice to “stand-up” to bullies. He left behind a summer of freedom only to return to school to be terrorized day after day about his gender and sexuality under the professional supervision of a silent or woefully inadequate high school faculty and administration.
There are a lot of participants in the terrorizing of minority students at school.
I continue to think less focus should be placed on the ‘bullies’ and more on the silent curriculum, the silent student supervision, and the silent leadership.
Bullies are simply taking up power offered to them by the glorification of macho athleticism and competition; and the glorification of heterosexuality exhibited by an array of ritual dances, ordinations, and coupling recognitions.
There are a million ways schools teach youth and adults that being physically dominant, crushing ‘weaker’ competition, and having a heterosexual partner to be ‘going with’ make you fully human in high school while everyone else is at best worth less and at worst a loser.
Bullies simply enforce that consistent and pervasive institutional message on a primal level.
Peace be with the Rodemeyers and may Jamey rest in peace.