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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 )


( 135 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 6th, 2012 07:33 am (UTC)
Having gotten some fraction of what your son's getting, I know that it does get better, but also that it shouldn't have to. Not sure what to say, except thank you for writing this and I can only wish and hope the best for all of you.
Nov. 6th, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
So sorry to read about your son and the difficulties he's put through. Your letter is beautifully put, and so true. I hope things improve for you. ♥
Nov. 6th, 2012 09:50 am (UTC)
I'm so sad to read this, and I'll never understand bullys. I hope things improve.

I shared this via my Twitter.
Nov. 6th, 2012 10:15 am (UTC)
Stoney, as a Christian, I would like to apologise for every time I have not stood on the side of gay people against homophobes, on the side of the oppressed against their oppressors, and on the side of the hurting against those who have hurt them.

Far too often I have stood silent. I apologise.
Nov. 6th, 2012 11:41 am (UTC)
I can't think of anything to say that hasn't been said already but please know that you, your son and your family are in my thoughts, sweetie.
Nov. 6th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
It makes me so sad and angry that more parents don't teach their kids that everyone has value, that being unique is fantastic and that the world would be so boring if we were all the same. But it seems like so many PARENTS don't even realize these things, so I guess that's one reason they aren't teaching it to their kids. Please tell your son how many people here online think he's awesome, and that we wish we could live in his town so he'd know it ALL THE TIME. THANK you for being his awesome, accepting family. There are kids who don't have their family's support and it's so much harder for them. :-(
Nov. 6th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
You and your son are amazing people, and I will be keeping you both in my thoughts.
Nov. 6th, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
I don't have much to offer other than this -- it really does get better. Sometimes it's hard to believe that. But it does.

Also, bullying is, purely and simply, evil. Bully enablers are doubly evil, because they're adults and ought to know better.
Nov. 6th, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
TransAtlantic hugs to your son, you and the rest of your loving, supportive family. As a retired teacher, your son's misery at school fills me with sadness and frustration. Forgive me if what follows is of no help. My training and experience is that bullying will not stop unless it is confronted and made public (by that I mean anything from a small meeting, involving only those involved and a mediator, all the way up to whole school meetings and lessons).

Adolescence is a confusing time to live through: bodies and minds mature at different rates. Some find comfort in being part of a gang or tribe, hanging around with other individuals going through the same struggle to understand. Hormones run high and a leader can tap into what becomes a group mentality. Unfortunately, some groups become packs and abdicate responsibilty to the topdog. That is NO EXCUSE for holding someone outside the group as having a life less worthy of living and deliberately seeking to make their life miserable.

When my daughter was a teenager, she chose to belong to the goth tribe, not for morbid reasons but because she loved the music and fashion culture of that tribe. She told me there were eight tribes, each recognisable by dress, makeup and music. I'd never noticed until she pointed it out! Those that she considered bullies belonged in the main to the majority group; the ones who considered themselves 'normal'. There are ancient reasons why the main group would try to oust those they deemed different BUT they are not valid in a modern, civilised society. A society that does not see bullying as a problem is doing a disservice to the bullied and the bullies. The problem has to be recognised and tackled so adolescents and their parents are aware that it is not to be tolerated, particularly where Freedom, Equality and Happiness are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

You mention that your son had his head pushed in a toilet and his clothes stripped from him. That was assault: a criminal act. It is not in order for his school to ignore this. The perpetrators and their parents need to have the legal ramifications explained to them. They will be over the age of criminal responsibilty. Even if you do not wish to pursue this through the police as a formal charge, surely a school meeting or series of lessons to explain that assault has a legal basis and there are repercussions to actions should be implemented. There will be others in his school who are suffering. Bullying is not 'high spirits'; it is not 'fun' and it should not be brushed away as being part of growing up. It becomes its own self-fulfilling habit. Adolescent bullies become adult bullies.

I agree with everything in 'A Mother's Plea' and the wonderful letter your son wrote. Why not send the school's governors a copy? They have legal responsibilities, too. If you are not satisfied that the school is doing all it can to educate its pupils to be good citizens, the next step is the local press, though I do understand your need for anonymity, that you want to reduce the stress and not make matters worse for your son.

You are lucky. He is alive. Do show him all the messages of support from all over the world so he is aware that he and his family are not alone in this. xx
Nov. 6th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
Agreed. This is assault. There needs to be action taken--criminal charges against the bullies, a lawsuit against the school board, and a new educational environment for the kid. I was a bullied kid, and while words of support meant a lot to me, concrete actions to protect me would have meant more.
... - just_for_kicks - Nov. 7th, 2012 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 6th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
I am so, so sorry. That school is so wrong and is doing a horrible disservice to your son and to the kids it gives tacit permission to behave this way. This post has brought it all back. I was bullied and to this day I consider school to be like being in prison, complete with bells, bars, wardens, and gangs. I hear people say that homeschooled kids won't be 'socialized' without school. Me? I could have lived just fine without that kind of 'socializing'.
Nov. 6th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
I hug you so tight and I hope your words are heard everywhere and taken to heart.
Nov. 6th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
It's not much but I am rooting for you, your family, and especially your beautiful boy. I've had your essay rolling around in my head all day, unable to concentrate on anything else. I'll keep you in my thoughts and I hope your son reads these comments and knows that there are people out there that hear, and acknowledge his pain. These same people know the value of a person with the courage, character and kindness you son has displayed. The world needs people like him. In the midst of the enormity of his pain, he should know that. He matters. Some people refuses to see that, but there are others that see it clear as day. It's only a matter of time before more people see how beautiful he is. Hold on. A day, minute, second at a time. Just hold on.
Nov. 6th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
I don't have anything to add to what other more eloquently posted comments have said. I just wanted you to know that I read this and despite not knowing your son, I love him. I love your family and I hope for the best for you all.
Nov. 6th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
That was beautifully put, Stoney.

This situation makes me ache for your wonderful son and your entire family.
Nov. 6th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
I am frustrated and angered and saddened by what has happened to your family--by what has been allowed to continue happening to your family. Because it seems clear to me from your post that there's a heaping amount of chicken shittery and profound neglect going on among your school administrators.

The heartbreaking thing is that as a parent, you can't do everything for your child. You can't put him in a bubble, you can't make cruel words and actions go away...and that's the scariest part, isn't it? (And it's something you explained quite well in the second to last graf of your post. YOU already are doing all you can do, and the fact that it's sometimes not enough truly is devastating.) It's also a reminder to people like me--people far, far away and not dealing with issues like this in our own lives--of what we CAN do. We can love fully and unconditionally. Defend passionately. Be kind and not stand for unkindness. Do the right thing, even when it's the hard thing. As a fellow atheist, I've long believed in the power of personal action; of the way we affect the lives around us. And what I can do is be one more human on the planet saying I will do those things. I will share and spread and fight for those ideals.
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( 135 comments — Leave a comment )


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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