It’s Bullying Awareness Week in Canada and my colleague Ryan Couldrey and I produced an It Gets Better video featuring CBC folks we work with. It Gets Better is an online video project that Dan Savage started and focuses on homophobic bullying. While Ryan and I worked on it, we did think about how opening our video up to be more generally anti-bullying would be interpreted. One colleague asked if we were concerned about diluting the original issue surrounding LGBT teens.
This is part of my response which I hope explains our decision to include everyone:
When we started asking colleagues to get involved, a couple contacted us and asked to be participate even though they’re not gay. They still wanted to do it because they too, were bullied for being different, whether it was for the colour of their skin, their love of “nerdy” things or their physical disability.
This reminded us that bullying isn’t limited to gay kids or kids who appear to be gay. Ryan, who is straight, was tortured by other kids on a daily basis, even beat up regularly. And though I am gay, I wasn’t picked on for being a tom boy, I was picked on for being the only Asian kid in a white classroom.
Everyone we’ve interviewed share the common experience of being different and being different in high school is not an encouraged thing. It leads to bullying and in extreme cases, bullying leads to kids hurting themselves.
Since the goal of this is to prevent kids from committing suicide, we did not want to exclude people from sharing their stories. Kids who are bullied aren’t less immune to suicidal thoughts just because they don’t also identify as queer. So if we can discourage those kids from hurting themselves and encourage them to get help, then it makes it worthwhile.
Note: Rick Mercer used the term “It Gets Better” in his anti-bullying rant back in 2007–and it wasn’t just directed at kids of the LGBT community.