Writing at Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Katherine Wheatle laments that the term “bullying” has been watered down because anyone who feels different feels free to invoke it. Proper use of the term should really focus on who has power, she argues.
In September 2010, columnist Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project as a testament to the suicides of two 15-year-old high school students who took their lives as a result of relentless harassment by classmates because of their gay identities. Successors to organizations like The Trevor Project and the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the It Gets Better Project and Born This Way Foundation brought greater attention to anti-gay bullying. Following the suicides of 14 more teenagers, the White House held a high-profile Conference on Bullying Prevention, and President Obama endorsed support of legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement and the Student Non-Discrimination Acts. Collectively, these entities work to empower and advocate for disempowered lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth.
The anti-gay bullying movement is justified by the countless examples of hate experienced by LGBTQ youth. These experiences always existed, but we ignored them. We, “the majority,” with our privilege, deafening silence, violence and ignorance created those debasing experiences. We disempowered these individuals. And now, when their message is unmistakably clear and the impact of our discrimination is undeniable, just when the stage has been set, we snatch the mic with our broad-stroked definition of “bullying” and highjack the movement. The once “anti-gay hate crime” movement is now an “anti-bullying” campaign; a watered-down, heterosexualized and whitewashed version of a movement that had the catalyst to revolutionize an unapologetic bigoted culture …
Read Katherine Wheatle’s entire piece at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.