Friday, November 5, 2010

GAYteway Behaviors Normalize Bullying by Guest Blogger, Carole Aksak

“That is SO GAY.”

“That outfit is SO GAY.”

“YOU are SO GAY.”

These are the jeers of the schoolyard hurled between kids too young to know or understand what it is to be gay. They are the insults flung out there, to their peers, to each other. It starts early. It starts young. And even if you don’t know what it means, you know it is meant to hurt. So at very young ages kids are picking up those verbal arrows and tucking them neatly away in their arsenal for use upon others, when needed.

If you are the adult hearing those words, what are you doing or saying? Are you choosing to ignore the insults? In your mind, is this just another case of kids being kids? Or, do you stand there and meekly say to the perpetrator “Stop that. That’s not nice.”

Well, what’s not nice? Is it the verbal attack or being gay?

In view of the recent suicides of male teens, identified or perceived as gay, across our country over the past few weeks, adults are not doing enough to address the playground taunts of boys and girls. Name calling against any group, whispers, rumors and innuendos are all gateway behaviors that can lead to other kinds of bullying. It changes the culture of an environment, which should be safe and nurturing for our sons and daughters. When left unchecked, unaddressed, or ignored we begin to normalize bullying making it “not such a big deal” anymore.

When girls and boys, children or teens, begin to take their own lives because of the taunts of their peers, whether the name-calling is based upon facts or perceptions, it concerns me. To be authentic in your own skin is a right we are each entitled to. When any group is targeted, it impacts me. I am not safe. This is a human issue, not a gay issue. This is bullying, not kids being kids. Girl Scouts of Nassau County is on the forefront to address of these issues.

As adults, we have a responsibility to each other to address gateway behaviors before they begin to escalate to acts of violence—violence against each other or the violence suffered by our own hands just for being whomever we are. Bullying starts young, it starts early, and it starts with gateway behaviors. It’s the adult’s obligation to address it. Always, always, always respond when you hear or see bullying happening.

Girl Scouts is committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment, period. Our Promise and our Law provides us with a code of honor. We will be a sister to every Girl Scout. We will show respect for ourselves and others. And we will do that through our words and actions. Everyday. Everywhere. All the time.

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