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Paul Tripp

Views & Voices

Do anti-marriage equality ads just teach our children to bully?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The first time I remember contemplating suicide I was 9 years old.

An awkward pre-teen raised in a small Montana town with a rough home life and an even rougher time at school – I was a target of bullying in every aspect of my life.

In the 1970’s, teachers didn’t understand the effects of bullying and the scars my classmate’s words carved into my mental psyche as they called me a wide range of anti-gay slurs.

There wasn’t a day that went by I didn’t wish I could be folded up and put away like my failing math homework. Columbine wasn’t a part of our collective psyche yet, although the bullying I experienced often times pushed me towards thoughts of unforgiving pain.

When I see anti-gay television ads that try to claim that marriage equality impacts educational policy, it makes my heart sink.

My own experience being bullied in school and the growing number of stories of bullying and suicide that we are hearing coming out of our high schools tells me we still have a long way to go until we teach our students that all people should be treated equally. And votes on marriage equality is not going to have any impact on what we teach our children in schools.

Children are bullied because they appear different. Children are harassed because they do not appear to fit in. Children experience harassment and abuse from their peers because of societal norms, taught at home, that do not embrace inclusiveness. And schools, largely unequipped to handle bulling, stand idly by.

A rather large statement, I know, but children do not have the intellect or the ability to converse about inclusion, and so they attempt to understand through exclusion – which typically manifests itself through bullying and harassment.

If we as a society continue to vote against LGBT people, based on false and fear mongering messaging, then the message we are sending our children is one of exclusion – or the right to bully.

My parents are grateful I didn’t kill myself while in school. The truth is that they didn’t know how close I came.

Six out of ten teenagers, in 2011, witness bullying at least once a day in school. Those who are bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. When you add those numbers together, there are a lot of children in our school systems who are isolated and alone and hurting. There are 160,000 children who stay home from school – every day – because of fear of bullying.

As a retired Naval Officer with a son in high school, I know I would move heaven and earth to ensure my son wouldn’t have to endure the bullying I went through.

If that means that he receives education on how to respect and appreciate the rich diversity of people within our country, then I will put my personal agenda aside so that he can be a better person than I ever hoped.

After all, isn’t that what we want for our children – for them to have a better life than us? Education is the only key we have to offer our kids – and in the process, we just might save someone who is being bullied.

The tools that didn’t exist in the 1970’s are now available through awareness programs like Spirit Day, as well as organizations like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, GLSEN, and through stories – like mine.

Take a stand towards the affirmative. Be a better parent than your own parents, and in turn, your child will become a better parent than you. Inclusion: it’s the only way to stop bullying and end the harassment.

If we teach our youth anything, we should be teaching them to respect and care for all people, regardless of how different they might be from ourselves. Then, we can move forward together.

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34 more reader comments:

  1. Of course they do.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:33pm
  2. Yes, they do. People of ALL ages need to know they are respected and belong to the wider civinilization.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:35pm
  3. Yes. Should not be allowed on tv

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:37pm
  4. yes ppl need to just let us get married

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:38pm
  5. Those ads invalidate our love, our relationships, our identities, and our value as American citizens. So of course it contributes to bullying which is a result of us being seen as unequal and undeserving of respect. Because it’s what it boils down to: respect, or the lack thereof.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:40pm
  6. YEP!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:42pm
  7. Yes and it also teaches kids not to treat everyone equally. As parents, we need to protect our kids from horrible commercials or ads like that so they don’t become a victom to false ads or information.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:44pm
  8. Pretty much. Society is sure not thinking right, in fact they hardly think if the positive feedback their fears is was taking over.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:44pm
  9. when you condone inequality you do support violence against those being discriminated against…I cant believe this is a quesiton.. thats like asking it the sun warm! the obvios answer is yes

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:45pm
  10. So glad you made it!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:45pm
  11. Yes

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:47pm
  12. Some schools are ill equipped to deal with bullying as you say but many teachers and school administrators are bullies themselves or at a minimum still “blame the victim” …

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:52pm
  13. Of course it does. Hate isn’t inborn. It’s taught to kids. And it wrecks families of those who have committed suicide.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:52pm
  14. YES!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:53pm
  15. Yes they do this is a new generation but it seems that theses people are still ignorance to know the difference between then and now maybe its time to stop pointing fingers and time to educated and changed the world by one person at a time

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:54pm
  16. of course they do – that’s the point of these ads to incite violence against LGBTI families. That’s also why Facebook gives free gay bashing bully pulpits to tyrannical theocRAT cults – Facebook Safety policy is the only good gay is a gay bashed gay

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 2:56pm
  17. well yeah.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:05pm
  18. Does global warming cause monster hurricanes?

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:18pm
  19. I think any time you promote being anti-anything, you encourage animosity towards the people involved. Whether that turns into bullying really depends on the character of the person influenced by these.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:25pm
  20. Anytime you promote something that shows hatred, or intolerance, or non acceptance of something- it teaches that intolerance on to others. The younger, the more impressionable. Anti gay ads should not be allowed at all.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:28pm
  21. Um…YES.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:31pm
  22. Of course they do.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:35pm
  23. Yes they do. If your a tax payer then you deserve the same rights as everyone else

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:37pm
  24. Intolerant people still justify themselves. “If they wern’t like that and if they only tried to fit in! I’m only trying to help!” Does this sound familiar? I heard it for the first time more than 50 years ago! I you want to “help”, stop!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:41pm
  25. A lot has to with how their parents react to the ads…monkey see, monkey do!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3:47pm
  26. In a way, yes, they also teach hatred.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:00pm
  27. It teaches them that’s it’s okay to commit hate crimes based on religion, gender, and sexuality! It’s not necessarily teaching them to bully although it is teaching them that they are allowed to hate!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:00pm
  28. the ads don’t do all the teaching, the parents do the most. if a child or children see an ad and it shows bullying or hatred and start acting out based on that, it’s up to the parents to recognize such terrible behavior and confront the child or children about what they are doing and put the child on a good path of respect towards all people. take responsibility with your kids..don’t let the tv do it..

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:43pm
  29. Well duhhhh. Of course they do

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 5:25pm
  30. Yes they do.

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:18pm
  31. hmm. i don’t think teaching kids that if you live your life a certain way, then you you will be happier, more successful, healthier and also better than everyone who doesn’t agree with you has ever had an adverse affect on society. i mean its not like we live in world of self obsessed ego maniacs spewing religious and political garbage in a desperate plea for attention because their souls are as empty as my sympathy for them. i mean look at hitler, not a bad go. he insured a place in history and advanced technology. now if we just overlook all that genocide deep down he was probably a gentle caring psychopath, and not the evil dictator he was made out to be. the problem with a bully is regardless of how they were raised, what they were subjected to, who they are deep down even if its just a scared hopeless kid, our choices are our own. children are often those under the most pressure of suffering consequences because of the level of supervision provided to them. they have a daily reminder of what not to do and they do it anyways to test their boundaries. this is all just the process of growing up. if your kid beats up other kids because of the actions of a political party and their slander, you’re a shitty parent. no confusion about it, you shouldn’t even raise a house plant. my parents taught me to pick my battles. but also that i’m no-ones punching bag. and in school we said mean shit to each other, we fought over stupid crap, we even backstabbed our friends for personal gain. no one is innocent of this grand social experiment we call high school. but if your kid has singled out someone to berate for seemingly no reason, or because some commercial said too, you need to get that little psycho some therapy. seriously, when the school kicks them to the curb who going to be the glutton of their abuse then?

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 8:03pm
  32. YES!!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 9:26pm
  33. of course it does!

    Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 11:35pm
  34. yes they do all they teach is hatred, intolerance,bigotry and ignorance.

    Posted on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 12:04am