"There are always rude comments made. I had someone tell my best friend that she shouldn't go to prom with me because he was afraid of everyone thinking she was gay too," junior Kyrie Larsen, who is an open lesbian and student at Eaglecrest, said. "My friend since seventh grade told me that we couldn't hug anymore because she was worried that people would think lower of her."
For Kyrie, and millions of other middle and high school students, this is the case. A sense of bullying has escalated from physical mockery to personal, physical and even sexual attacks on sexuality and lifestyle.
We've al heard the speeches , taken the classes, seen the movies and TV shows that had then made us fear middle school; bullying has been a part of each and every one of our lives. Since first grade, we were told that bullying one another is wrong and that when we see it happening, we need to stop it.
Just because motive has changed doesn't mean that bullying has become permissible; bullying is still wrong and we need to take a stand.
On April 16, approximately 7,500 middle and high school students across the nation did just that. Participating in the National GLSEN Day of Silence, they "spoke out" for those who have been bullied or are afraid of expressing themselves because of their sexuality.
The Day of Silence was put on by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which is focused on creating safe learning environments for LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) students. GLSEN reports annually on school climate for LGBT students; the 2007 national School Climate Survey reported: "9 our of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school."
The survey also found that 30 percent of respondents report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. That is a startling number of students mission out on their education because they fear what might happen in a place where safety is supposed to be top priority.
For Kyrie, however, she is proud of who she is. "Being an openly flamboyant teenage lesbian is quite an exhilarating high school experience." In a narrative Larsen wrote for her English class, which is published on her blog at www.cronicalsofme.blogspot.com, she said, "If given the choice, I would never have been in the closet for any amount of time."
Yet, for many students struggling with their sexuality, the threat is still prominent. Many of their "scare speeches" include the cases of Matthew Shepard and Larry King, two students who were harassed and killed due to discrimination against their sexual orientation.
The time to step in and speak out for all of those forced into silence out of fear for their safety at school, is now. Whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, travsgender, or questioning, no one should be forced to hide who they truly are.
The Gay/Straight Alliance at Eaglecrest is in the process of organizing an LGBT Day of Silence for Eaglecrest exclusively.
We as a student body need to realize that we are all different. each student believes something different, loves something, or someone different, and unless we realize this now, students will have a rude awakening in the world ouside of high school, where there are four times as many people who believe different things than we do.
It's time to make peace with people we see every day before we lose ourselves trying to change every single person who is different from ourselves in beliefs, as well as lifestyles. If we don't, Kyrie and thousands of other LGBT students will be harassed, bullied and isolated from high school. It's time to take a stand and "speak out" for those who have been forced into silence by the cruel hand of fear.