By Katie Reilly ’11
This week, issues of acceptance seem to have had a strong presence on campus. In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we watched Children of Terezin, a play set during the Holocaust that peered into the lives of five children at a concentration camp. On Tuesday, we welcomed speaker John Halligan, whose son committed suicide at age 13 due to his experience with bullies at school. During both presentations, we were given real examples of the disastrous effects of exclusion and rejection.
Why the sudden focus on bullying? In fact, it’s not all that sudden. During the past year alone, there have been far too many examples of young adults who, after enduring bullying and harassment at school or at home, decided to take their own life. These cases have been publicized because of their tragic endings, but there are far more similar stories that go unnoticed until it is too late.
It would be naïve to think that harassment isn’t present on our campus or that our school is immune to its tragic consequences. Many Govs students would probably confess to having been bullied at some point during their lifetime and, as Mr. Halligan pointed out, both the bully and the bystander are responsible for that. At the very least, hopefully our community will become more cognizant of the language we use and the ways in which our actions affect others.
As the fight against bullying continues, it’s also important to recognize the triumphs. This past week, Chris Colfer, who plays an openly gay high school student on the TV show Glee, won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes. As he concluded his acceptance speech, he addressed those teenagers who face bullies in their lives, much as his character does on the show.
“Most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates who are constantly told, ‘no’ by the people in their environments, by bullies at school that they can’t be who they are or have what they want because of you they are. Well, screw that, kids.” Well said.