Bullying is an issue that most people experience at some point in their childhood, preteen, or teen years.  In the last couple years it has become a political issue rather than a just a private, individual problem.  The state and federal governments have begun to take steps to pass legislation and start programs to protect students from bullying and its detrimental effects.  As a retail store we are doing our part by selling merchandise that promotes inclusion as well as the importance of supporting anti-bullying efforts.  A few products we carry include our “Stand up.  Stop Bullying” t-shirt, some books on growing up as a gay teen, and stickers that promote differences.

In the past few years the bullying of LGBTQ teens has been particularly prevelant because of its extensive coverage by the media.  In an article written by Jean Ann Esselink, she discusses the need for there to be a type of Big Brothers Big Sisters for LGBTQ youth so that they have support that they need in coming out as well as dealing with bullies.  As an individual who came out at a young age and dealt with bullying both directly and indirectly I think that a program like this would be beneficial to young people.  However, I don’t agree with her use of language when she describes how young LGBTQ members need to be “saved” from these terrible situations.  I think that the way that these issues needs to be approached is how to empower young people to be able to stand up to bullying for themselves as well as others and to build self confidence that prevents the negativity from affecting their everyday lives.

When I was bullied in junior high school it was really important to me that the adults in my life showed support to help stop the problem and prevent future incidents.  They treated me with respect rather than as simply a helpless victim which made me feel comfortable talking to them about my experiences.  If students are treated in this respectful way then it will make them feel better about themselves and help raise their confidence.  When a student at the junior high or high school age is treated like a victimized child then it is difficult for them to build up the proper kind of self confidence needed to stand up against bullies.  Prevention is the first step to helping people who are bullied and a program where students can have LGBTQ mentors would be a place to start.

To check out the article follow this link: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/on-our-radar-an-lgbtq-big-brother-big-sisters-of-america/families/2012/05/20/39778

And to check out Pride and Joy’s related merchandise: http://www.nohoprideandjoy.com/