6th Grader B. Wright Stands Up For the LGBTQ Community & Bullying In A Big Way: She Will Not Be Silenced

Written by B. Wright

I am a 6th Grader living in Florida. Over the past few years I have personally noticed a recurring issue that is unfortunately affecting countless of innocent people who don’t deserve this treatment. I had originally started this letter with the intention to present it to my peer counseling class, which is an elective class that teaches us all about kindness, how to work together with others, and basically get along in a world where not everyone has the same beliefs, opinions, backgrounds, etc. Our class focuses on a specific subject every week, like body language, passive aggressive and assertive behavior, and making good decisions. Unfortunately, my school wouldn’t allow me to present my letter because it wasn’t assigned and it could potentially cause drama between myself and other students. After thinking about it, I realized that I could present this to an even bigger crowd and hopefully in turn help more people.

School has been the place that I have been most regularly witnessing this upsetting behavior, but I know that it happens everywhere. It all started when I was in the 3rd Grade. Many of my fellow classmates were using the term “gay” and “lesbian” in a very derogatory manner. They have called other students those words and always use them as an insult or in a negative way. Because I am growing up in a home where we have many friends who happen to be gay and we consider them a part of our family, I take it very personally when someone uses these words in a way to intentionally hurt someone else. My own parents met because of their two gay friends, so I feel it strongly in my heart to be a voice that stands up to others on their behalf and explain to other kids that this behavior is not acceptable.

I have been trying to talk with my classmates over the years every time these words come up. I have attempted to speak to them individually, in groups, and through the teachers to bring awareness to how they are affecting the person they are trying to hurt as well as affecting me. Unfortunately, none of my efforts have been heard. Instead, some of the kids are now bullying me. They have called me gay and have gone around the playground rallying other kids to come up to me and say I’m gay just because they know I am trying to get them to stop being mean. I have stood up to them and said I don’t care what they call me, but I do care about what they’re doing to my friends.

I took the time to type this up because it is an issue I strongly believe should be addressed. I realize that everyone has their own thoughts and beliefs and I will inform you that I am not going to tell you that your opinion is wrong, however, today I am sharing this with you to inform you of a better way to look at this subject matter.

When I have spoken to my peers, I have heard some of them say that people who are gay aren’t normal or are too different. I think that these comments are coming from a place of misunderstanding. We are all human beings and we are ALL different. My hope is that our society can continue to overcome separations between race and sexual preference. We can accomplish this goal through proper education, understanding, and having a voice that you are not afraid to have heard. My goal today and every day is to be an example and to help to make a change in my peers’ and everyone else’s behavior in a positive way.

Some students don’t even know what gay and lesbian means. Gay really just means that for guys, well, they like their own gender. Lesbian basically means the same thing but the term lesbian is used for women. The reason I am telling you this is because another meaning of gay is happy. Maybe we should really embrace the gay community and let them BE HAPPY. I think that gay people shouldn’t be brought down by something they can’t help. Instead of looking at them and going, “You’re gay,” why not try to look at their personality.

Is it really different from everybody else’s? Well, yeah, it is because they stand out in a good way. In my experience a lot of people I look up to are gay and they are kind, respectful, fun, they’re nonjudgmental, they make an impact, they bring people together, they’re brave, and they don’t go along with the crowd. People that are gay didn’t choose to have a lifestyle where they are picked on and ridiculed for their type of love. Just ask yourself, why don’t straight people have to “confess” their form of love? What if gay and lesbian was considered “normal” and straight was viewed as odd or different? Sometimes we just need to put ourselves in their shoes.

Parents teach their children to not be mean and to be kind to others and to put ourselves in others’ shoes, but sometimes the adults teaching us about being kind don’t realize that they need to set an example by not being a hypocrite. You don’t have to agree or share someone’s choices or their beliefs, but we should all show each other respect.

We have recently been holding debates in my peer counseling class and we had the topic of “If you are standing by watching someone get bullied, are you innocent?” I immediately thought, ‘No. You are not innocent if you can do something about it and prevent something bad from happening.’

When I was called on, I said, “You could be walking by a bully taking down this kid and if you run off afraid that you could get dragged into the situation you think you had nothing to do with, you could end up being dragged into it as a witness anyway and you might as well make something good out of being involved.”

My turn was up and then it was the other side’s turn. After some more thinking, I raised my hand, was called on and added, “Just think about the situation from the point of view of the kid who is being bullied. If you were them and you saw another kid that was walking by, you know they notice you are getting torn apart by this bully and you watch them walk away, you definitely won’t respect that person for leaving. However, if the kid stands up and helps you or they tell an adult who can help, then they have done something great. They stood up for what is right and now that kid will have your respect.”

You might be thinking, “Yeah, but now the bully is going to find a way to get back at the kid who helped or told.” I said something to back that up too, “Even though you might have made that bully mad and now he is going to get back at you, you now have a friend, the kid you saved. He knows what it is like and will most likely stand up for you or someone else too. If he does, you now know that you had the power to inspire and the power to stand up for what is right. And if the kid you helped doesn’t stand up, then you still know that you did the right thing and you prevented something much bigger and much worse from happening.”

So what this means is that if you can be the one to stand up and help others, then you will receive more respect and you will get more drops in not only your bucket, but you will be adding more drops in everyone else’s buckets. And trust me, that feeling is great.

Here’s another example. I used to play piano, and then I stopped because I thought it was getting old and a bit boring. I didn’t really enjoy playing as much as I thought I would before I started. As I went through 4th and 5th grade (when I wasn’t playing piano) I noticed piano became the new thing. I noticed my friends and other classmates started talking about playing the piano, and bringing in their books and showing how far along they had gotten.

While I didn’t enjoy playing the piano as much as these other people did, I still respected them even though they liked something different than I did. I think that this, in smaller terms, relates to gay and lesbian discrimination. Just because they love something different from you do, doesn’t mean they are entirely different. You might come to see that you have a lot in common. You might be thinking to yourself, “ What me? Have something in common with them? Nooooo.” Why not start seeing gay and lesbian individuals as equals to us? Maybe look at love as a way to be rather than define or determine whom it should belong to.

My friends like piano and I don’t, but we all like art and movies. We are different and we all accept that because if we liked the same thing our friendship would be pretty boring. If everyone loved the same thing in life, it would be really boring too.

To put your mind in another situation; you could be sitting next to someone and think they look nice and strike up a conversation. Maybe you even hit it off like you were meant to be friends. What if you spend lots of time together and then he or she tells you that they are gay or lesbian? Do you throw that special friendship down the drain just because they are what you consider to be different? Or worse, should your new friend feel like they have to keep the fact that they are gay a secret for fear that they will lose you as a friend? Who someone likes or even loves shouldn’t matter to you. It’s what is on the inside that counts. At the end of the day, ask yourself this, “Does how other people live their lives really affect the way I get dressed in the morning?”

I want to leave you with one final thought: Whether you have a religion, a peer, a family member, or a way of always doing things that influences the way you act around those who appear different from you, remember that we all have a choice. You can choose to react or you can choose to think. You can choose to be open or you can choose to be closed. You can choose to love or you can choose to hate. What choice will make your life and the lives of those around you better? We all have choices. Choose wisely.

In a world where I can be anything, I choose to be kind.

 

Permission was given to post this piece by her parents

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