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Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison LGBT Campus Center Tackles Bullying Through Awareness

Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison LGBT Campus Center Tackles Bullying Through Awareness

SheWired has teamed up with the LGBT Campus Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison to deliver a series of stories about bullying and a forum to offer ideas for peaceful action to counter the epidemic. Here's a piece by Kasandra Brown, sophomore at University of Wisconsin -- Madison. On April 15th, 2011, students and community members from across the state will accept the call to action and rise to the challenge of combating homophobia and transphobia. In unity, we will march to the capitol and peacefully assert our right to feel safe and welcome wherever we are. Break the Silence, Wisconsin--the time is now.

SheWired has teamed up with the LGBT Campus Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison to deliver a series of stories about bullying and a forum to offer ideas for peaceful action to counter the epidemic.

Here's a piece by Kasandra Brown (pictured above), sophomore at University of Wisconsin -- Madison.

Alex grew up in a small town and every day endured being shoved in the hall, threatened and cursed at for gender presentation. After school, Kayla was locked in the janitor's closet by bullies who called her a "lesbo" as they spit at her. Matt tried to make friends but was consistently pushed away; sometimes in physically or verbally violent ways, at other times by indirect means.

Chris left school feeling isolated and depressed, often being run off the road and pelted with gravel by bullies as they yelled "fag.” At home Jasmine was harassed via threatening Facebook comments. She tried reading the news instead but only found more hatred in the anonymous comments on that one article about the LGBTQ Pride Parade.

Sarah ran away from home after an abusive altercation with her parents where they denied her strong feelings for their neighbor Kate. Jake dropped out of school when it got to be too much. Ray thought about how lucky she was to have finally made it through high school, all the while listening to two people in her first college class of the semester talk about how "gay" that boring lecture was. Amanda...looked for an escape.

Bullying has traditionally been used to describe "typical" behavior that everyone experiences at one point in their young life. Either they do the bullying, receive it, or watch it happen to someone else. But what happens when the bullying is rooted in a culture that actively supports homophobia and transphobia? What happens when students aren't allowed to be who they are because they will be met with violence and hatred in every aspect of their lives, everyday?

When people are bullied for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender presentation, they are bullied for the very essence of who they are. The repercussions of identity-based hostility are so severe that a life is being lost every two hours. This statistic measures only documented suicides--homicides and undocumented suicides would make the numbers far more depressing.

We can no longer think of bullying as a "character building" or "strength developing" activity. It is harassment in its most obvious form. It is hatred played out between people. When schools, campuses, work places, websites, and communities become battlefields and LGBTQ-identified people are forced to fight to be accepted and respected. When lives are lost and a culture of silence pretends like the issues don't exist. That is when we have to stand up and demand that the bullying stops. That is when we have to come together and stop the silence. That time is now.

Wisconsin will be active in this movement. On April 15th, 2011, students and community members from across the state will accept the call to action and rise to the challenge of combating homophobia and transphobia. In unity, we will march to the capitol and peacefully assert our right to feel safe and welcome wherever we are. Break the Silence, Wisconsin--the time is now.

Learn more about the LGBT Campus Center at University of Wisconsin Madison. 

The LGBT Campus Center recently launched Stop the Silence: LGBTQ Anti-Bullying Campaign to address ongoing incidents in both the UW-Madison, and broader communities. Bullying toward students identified as LGBTQ, or those perceived to be, is a long standing issue.

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