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A Mother's Plea

I wrote this two weeks ago when I came home to find that all hell had broken loose in my family, wanting to find a way to publish it, to get people to THINK about how they treat each other and the lessons they inadvertently teach others, and decided that our situation is dire enough here that I just really need people to think NOW and can't wait for an editor to decide this works for them. I posted this to my FB yesterday and it went "viral" among my friends and their friends. I don't think that's really the definition of the term, but it's nice that people want to share this. :)

And I want you to share this through links. Please link people here to my blog instead of reposting this elsewhere, if you do. I feel that having a concentrated group of comments for kids like my son to read through and know that people CARE will do wonders for them. (And if you know me in RL, please - I beg of you - do not share anything personal like where I actually live or my child's name. We have had people stalking our house to the point where my husband called the police.)

Thank you. It's a little long, but I mean every word of it. (And if you've ever called someone the names I've referred to in this article, or hurt someone, I want you to look at my icon. That's my son. That precious little thing has had all of this ugliness thrown at him.)

Warning: Frank talk of homophobia, suicide attempts, and bullying.

Tolerance doesn't mean what you think it means.Collapse )

Comments

( 135 comments — Leave a comment )
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lynnenne
Nov. 5th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
I just saw this on your Facebook and shared it. So much love to you and your family. <333
(Anonymous)
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:22 pm (UTC)
I never post on LJ (hence I don't have an account) except once on one of your stories and now. I always get super shy and tongue-tied online so apologies if I don't make much sense. I don't want to be anonymous, so I'll start by saying hi, I'm Hannah. Love reading your stories and your posts, sorry I'm awful at leaving feedback.

Thank you so much for writing this. It needs to be said, and you said it so well.

I find that in bullying cases, the victim (though I hate that word) is blamed for it. If they had only stood up, or blended in, or smiled, or not smiled, or made eye contact, or not made eye contact. They should have hit back, boys will be boys after all. Well, you know what teenage girls are like! You caught the bully on the wrong day, it's not the bully's fault, if only you had tried to fit in - why can't you try to fit in?

Same rhetoric over and over again.

I think what hit home most to me is when you mentioned that your son has autism. My brother is not on the spectrum, but he has many traits one associates with ASD. I was bullied throughout my teen years and it kept me up at night thinking of how people might target him. Luckily he went to a much more supportive school than I did and bullying wasn't an issue. But still, whenever I hear people say retard or spastic or 'special' in that tone of voice, I go cold. Because people saying that normalises the behaviour of bullies who target people like my brother, even if the people saying it didn't 'mean it in that way'.

It's the same for LGBT slurs. At school a good friend of mine was bullied to a self harming and suicide attempts because he dared be out as bisexual.

I started crying when I read your post. Thank you for writing it.

All I can say is that I hope your son is ok and the situation improves. I know that's not much, but it's all I can say. Much love from Scotland.
siapom
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
We don't know each other, but... *hugs* I've shared the link to this page on my FB so that, hopefully, your wise words will reach eyes in need of reading them. I'll also be sending positive thoughts your family's way.
kallysten
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
i have no words, only ♥
heresluck
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that you and your family are going through this, and I'm sorry we live in a world where so many people need to read this post, but I'm glad that you wrote it, and wrote it with such eloquence and passion and even humor. And -- speaking as someone who lived through some similar experiences without parental support -- I'm so glad that your kid has you.

Sending strong supportive thoughts your way.
fiveandfour
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
I work in the insurance industry where there is a constant stream of information regarding lawsuits over actual and imagined cases of discriminatory treatment. As a result, I'm generally in a place where I can't imagine *what* people in positions of authority are thinking to not set ground rules about expected behaviors and how those expectations will be enforced. A lot of times we can only roll our eyes at what some people consider discriminatory and will sue over; at other times, it's a sad fact that a lawsuit was absolutely necessary and the only way an issue would get the attention it deserved.

What really blows my mind is that it appears your local schools are pretty much doing the opposite of setting standards of decency and living by them. In the post-Columbine world it seemed like every school across the nation took a serious look at themselves and made adjustments to their teacher & student handbooks about what behaviours would and would not be allowed. Meanwhile, your schools don't even call the police for acts of bullying and hazing?!? This honestly boggles my mind! My daughter's school has 2 police officers stationed there every day school is in session as a part of our school district's strategy in relation to the protection of children.

It seems to me that one of darker parts of your son's bullying experiences is the adults in the system who are silently but surely supporting the bullies and allowing it to happen. Though the kids are certainly not blameless, it's also a fact that their brains are not fully developed during the teen-age years and thus the burden is on adults to set and enforce expectations for decency. The adults are clearly letting your son - and any other kid suffering the same kinds of treatment - down. I would think for their own self-protection, if nothing else, the adults would get their heads on straight and figure out a way for this to be addressed.

Perhaps an option would be - with the assistance of legal counsel - some form of written communication (demand letter, etc.) to the school district to point out the weaknesses in their stance on bullying and discriminatory behavior and their vulnerability from a legal position in allowing those weaknesses to remain unaddressed. This is obviously a sensitive thing to do if your children will remain in the system, but I would think that since a minor is involved there should be some way for it to remain confidential as respects your son's identity so far as the general public is concerned. Plus of course proof, proof and more proof (those police reports will come in handy) will be needed to strengthen your case.

Man, high school is hard enough without all of this BS - it saddens (and enrages) me immensely to know this kind of thing is still going on. Best of luck to your family and kudos on taking the high road through an impossible situation.
rebcake
Nov. 6th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
This. I'm amazed that every administrator hasn't got the message by now, after so many lawsuits, etc. across the country. Job one: protect the kids in your care. It's not that complicated.
... - spankedbyspike - Nov. 6th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - stoney321 - Nov. 6th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - spankedbyspike - Nov. 7th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC) - Expand
altyronsmaker
Nov. 5th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Hey Stoney.

I had to take a few minutes and get the cry out, because, well, it's really bullshit what you and your son - your entire family - are having to go through, and it's even worse that you're both having to battle school administrators over what is proper and good treatment of your child. Bastards, the lot of them.

I'm a high school teacher. It's my job, probably the MOST IMPORTANT PART of my job, to provide a safe environment for students in my class. Teachers at your son's school are in derilection of their duties. Yes, it might be hard getting past the ingrained 'beliefs' and 'teachings' of narrow-minded, parochial parents and churches. But we, as teachers, have a duty to do that. Please know that there are those of us who take that part of our job extremely seriously.

I'm so damned mad for you and your son - that he has to suffer this kind of indignity and abuse because the people who are supposed to protect him when he's away from you are too busy feeding into their own biases that they can't perform the most important parts of their jobs.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

amazing_grace93
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
We don't know each other, but I wanted to say how much it upsets me that, in the year 2012, this shit still goes on.
I never have understood homophobia, probably never will. I believe that children should be educated from an early age that homosexuality (and bi-sexuality) not only exists, but also is perfectly healthy, normal, and nothing to be ashamed of.

This is the first I've heard of anyone being bullied for being atheist. I guess things are different here in England. Still, it's horrible. I was raised Catholic and it always makes me sad (and embarrassed on behalf of my religion) when people use said religion as an excuse to trample all over other people.

I actually knew a boy with Aspergers growing up, and though his cognitive behaviour was different from most peoples, he is easily one of the most intelligent people I've ever met.

I'm sorry that school authorities are being so unhelpful. The fact is that being 16/17 can be really difficult and painful anyway, even WITHOUT the added nastiness of bullying and bigotry. Some adults tend to forget this.

Good luck to you and your son. I hope that he goes on to find every happiness once he's out of this shitty situation.
janedavitt
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
I wish people could see the damage they inflict as they lob missiles over the walls of ignorance and intolerance around their minds.

I hope that your son, your strong, brave, wonderful son, holds onto the love you have for him and turns his back on the haters.

::loves:;
upupa_epops
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
I wish you and your family all the best. It's sad that so many people still don't get that this whole "tolerance" and "social justice" stuff boils down to a simple "Don't be an asshole".
spikesjojo
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
I went through this with my daughter - trangender, lesbian and very artistic. Her art teacher asked her to put her work in a different pile because she was worried that taking her artwork into her Christian home would defile her family. Her friends were gay - and bullied. You brought me to tears reading this. Funny thing is that it was my other daughter who attempted suicide, got into cutting, dropped out of school.

I'm sure you would know but is there any place in your city - or any nearby city with a support group for gay kids where they can meet each other and help each other?
Hell, you sound like you have tried everything so I'm sure you would know if there was a magic bullet.

You don't know how much I wish I could do more to help. Thank you for putting into words what needs to be said over and over. How the hell these people can call themselves Christians bewilders me. I've never been one - but I do know that they are ignoring every word that Jesus said. Hate is evil - and teaching kids to hate is even more evil.
kseenaa
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I love you and your kids. All of them. Gawd damn... *HUGS TIGHT*
eilowyn
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
Here via spikesjojo

I'm in the school library crying for you because the situation your son is in makes me hurt so bad. If I could apologize on behalf of Christianity for the treatment your son has faced, I would. I am only one voice for change, but hearing stories like your son's shows me that my voice is needed, no matter how small it is. If more people lived their Christianity the way they preach it, we would be a completely different country. Maybe I'm having such a strong reaction to your words because your son is an atheist bullied by "Christians." Some of us do believe in marriage equality and reproductive freedom, even if we're a minority in our faith. So you do have some allies in religion, regardless if your son believes or not.

And from one suicide survivor to another, it does get better. It won't ever be perfect, but it will get better. Please give your son a hug from me, and please accept one for yourself. Don't ever let anyone tell you you're not a good mother - you are surely one of the best.

Edited at 2012-11-06 12:02 am (UTC)
lilithbint
Nov. 5th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Hi,
I'm here via spikesjojo and I just want to add my support and respect for you, your son and your family. It is awful that parts of society haven't moved beyond narrow minded hatefulness and that their noise drowns out the support and care that is out there.
I'm in New Zealand and we're in the middle of the debate over equal rights in adoption and marriage and it can get so tiring to have the same argument time and time again.
Your family's story (articulately and intelligently presented as it is) is far too common and that's just wrong.
I can only offer virtual support from the other side of the world and a hope that things will get better.
lilliephoenix
Nov. 6th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
wow. people really piss me off. the ignorance of some people... i can't imagine how *stuck* you feel. my son is an amputee and if this were happening to him, i would be ready to *throw down*! there are no words that can make this better, but i'm sending positive vibes your way. <3
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( 135 comments — Leave a comment )

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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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