Stopping The Bullies (ctd.)

That onslaught of publicity last month concerning the spate of suicides among youths who were bullied because they were gay, or perceived to be gay, is continuing to have repercussions, many of them good.

In Vermont yesterday, all 770 or so students at  Colchester High School in Colchester Vermont listened to education speaker Josh Gunderson talk about some of the pitfalls of social media like Facebook, especially as it relates to bullying. I explain it all in today’s Burlington Free Press.

Education speaker Josh Gunderson (left) talks to Colchester, Vermont high school students after his talk on bullying on line. Photo by me, for the Burlington Free Press.

Colchester school administrators say they have anti-bullying policies in place, but figured the message would resonate more if they had an entertaining, funny young person like Gunderson talk to students about it. The students seemed to like Gunderson, and fell silent with interest when he described how he was bullied in high school, and almost committed suicide because of it.

Gunderson has one of the many videos in the “It Gets Better” project, which seeks to tell bullied gay kids that life gets better and they should hang in there. Here’s Gunderson’s video:

Interestingly, in Colchester yesterday, Gunderson brought up Clint McCance, the Arkansas school board member who caused an uproar this week with an anti-gay, bullying rant on Facebook. Gunderson used McCance as an example of the type of bullying he’s fighting, and the risk to everyone when they post inappropriate comments on line.

McCance got a lot of hate mail, many calls for his resignation and even death threats. (Which I don’t condone, since such threats are as bad as McCance’s hate-filled comments)

On CNN Thursday, Anderson Cooper interviewed McCance, who said he is resigning from the school board and regrets publishing his rant. He said his words were wrong and over the top. I’ll say.

Still, I wasn’t impressed, since McCance said he was sorry for the words, but didn’t really apologize for the gist of what he said.

I am impressed with Cooper, who has been doing a lot of work and reporting on this anti-gay bullying problem.  Cooper seems to have no patience with evasive answers, which is great, and he persists and hangs on like a bulldog until he gets a complete answer to his questions. And he does it in a relatively civilized way, not like the screaming talking heads I’m used to on cable TV.

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