So here is what is in my heart. I have been deeply moved by many of the videos in the "It Gets Better" project. I've never been gay and in public school, but I have been a victim of bullying in the public school system and it totally did "get better" as soon as I got out of public school.
I believed so powerfully that it would "get better" outside of public school that I skipped high school completely and moved across the country to go to college at age 13 with other gifted young women because I saw just the possibility of being friends with my peers. A hope and a prayer, that's what I had... and also, the conviction that I would not survive four more years of public school.
Why did I think this?
Because for 4 long weeks in my 6th grade year, I came home every night after crying no less than 11 times during each day (I counted for days but soon I was crying too much to keep track) and went to the kitchen. I went there to stare at the knife set on the counter and decide if I had the courage to take my own life and end the suffering. Eventually I would decide it would hurt too much and go rifling through the cupboards, looking for love and acceptance wrapped in tin foil. I gained over 30 pounds each year I stayed in that school system until I weighed in at 197 at age 13. Being 90 pounds overweight didn't end the bullying, but regular doses of sugar kept my brain awash in enough seratonin and dopamine to function. I'm lucky that my parents didn't drink or smoke cigarettes, because I probably would have picked those up too.
A lot of people ask where my parents were in all of this. The answer, honestly, is lost. They called the school, they talked to my teachers, and they even called the parents of two of my worst bullies directly. The school and teachers were sympathetic but powerless to stop what went on behind their backs. The parents of the girls who bullied me on the bus? They told my mom they were proud of their children and if I was getting made fun of, I deserved it.
At that point I made a decision that saved my life - I would not give my bullies the "pleasure" of winning. I saw killing myself as a win for them, as if 11 and 12 year old girls really wanted me to kill myself. I have no idea what they wanted or why I was such a target to this day, but I do know this:
It is complete and total bullshit that a nation of adults can look at school bullying and decide that light at the end of a 13 year tunnel is the best we can offer our children.
Childhood obesity and curriculum reform are things that concern me, but I can't imagine that we can "fix" those things but ignore the fundamental truth that children are not emotionally and physically safe in our schools. End school bullying for all children, and I guarantee we will see an explosion of creativity and innovation in every other area impacting the health and education of our children.
Who is with me?