upper room daily devotions

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Bully Project is Coming - Check it Out!

In October of 2010, two other United Methodist clergy and I posted an "It Gets Better" video on youtube. Over the course of the past year, I have heard from many people about how moving it was for them to hear three pastors apologizing to queer youth for damage done to them by church. Even my more theologically conservative colleagues and friends agree with me that a child should never be bullied for being LGBTQI (or simply perceived to be LGBTQI). Bullying is not a Christian virtue!

We made the video because 2010 was a particularly bad year for queer identified youth. A helpful move is that attention is being paid to all kinds of bullying, not just bullying of queer identified youth. The horrible tentacles of bullying extend far beyond the LGBTQI community. Kids are bullied for all kinds of reasons - for being fat, thin, dark, freckled, pale, tall, short, male, female, poor, rich, smart, dumb, physically challenged, socially awkward, introverted, shy, or any other thing that sets them apart from whatever the dominant culture is in their particular situation. If a kid is Jewish in a Protestant area, odds are that he or she has been made fun of, even bullied, for being Jewish. If a kid is African American in a predominantly Euro school, odds are that she or he has been pushed around, been told at best insensitive things and at worst been subjected to painful verbal assaults. Being "different" puts us in the position of being examined, and all too often that results in awkward, insensitive, and even threatening situations. Let me say once more to any one who reads this blog: If you are different (whatever that means), it doesn't mean that you are less than those around you. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex, you do not deserve to be demeaned, threatened, or harassed. Ever. Period. And, for all of those who mistreat you in the name of religion, I am both ashamed and deeply sorry. If you are mistreated for being an ethnic minority, a girl, poor, shy, awkward, or anything else, I hope you find a safe adult and tell them their plight. There are more of us out here than you might think.

I find it amazing that any of us make it through childhood and adolescence. Even those of us with loving families and mostly easy lives still go through growing pains, awkward adolescence, body image issues, and confusion about the world. For those kids who do not benefit from loving and supportive homes or who suffer silently with secrets or in fear, the situation becomes much more complex. Despite the awkwardness of growing up, let me be clear, bullying is not a normal part of growing up. It is not a normal stage of development. It should not be expected or tolerated in our homes, schools, faith communities, or community groups. Adults who become aware of bullying behavior have a duty to stop it in the moment and to make it crystal clear how very unacceptable the behavior is. That's our job as adults.

In their new documentary, filmmakers Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Owen focus on the stories of five families who have lived with the effects of bullying. These are just five families out of an estimated 13 million kids who are bullied every year. Simply entitled "Bully," the documentary will be released in select theaters on March 30 with a wider release in early April. Check your local listings. If you live in a small town, encourage your local theater to show this movie. Some movies are for entertainment; others are for life. This is the latter. For more information, the website for "Bully" is at www.thebullyproject.com.

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