Anderson Cooper covers the tragic suicide of 14-year old Jamey Rodemeyer, and profiles Jamey’s It Gets Better video, the anti-gay hate comments he received via his Formspring account, and all the professional anti-gay people who are fighting to stop any help for LGBTQ students. Panel discussion focuses on agenda of anti-gay bigots who work to ensure LGBTQ kids are left without any support or resources.
“This is Jamie Rodemeyer, just 14 years old, a freshman at Williamsville North High School in Buffalo, New York. Jamie routinely blogged about his troubles. Just 11 days ago he wrote something online.” So says Anderson Cooper introducing the segment. “He said, ‘I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen?’ One week later, this past Sunday, Jamie committed suicide.” Cooper adds, “Even in his sadness, Jamie was reaching out to help others.”
WISEMAN: I also think what’s happening is, and you heard it in one of the clips, is that — and I believe it was the politician from Kentucky, which is that he’s saying, if I have this correctly, that the children who are bullying, if they believe that homosexuality is wrong and that’s their value system, then they should be allowed to express that against other students.
And what that means is, is that they are able to be mean and cruel to other students. And that is an extraordinary thing to say. What you’re saying is these values that we think are so important and are Christian, which I know many Christian people who don’t believe this whatsoever, that those values enable children to bully other children and justify and reinforce the notion that it’s to OK to bully other children.
It is unbelievable that that would be the case coming from our leaders and from adults that our children need to be able to depend on to be safe at school.
COOPER: Rachel, to those who say that bullying is just a teenage rite of passage, what do you say?
RACHEL SIMMONS, AUTHOR, “ODD GIRL OUT”: I say that person has never been to a school or certainly is not listening. We live in a — where 60,000 — stay home every day because they’re too afraid to go to school. And anybody who spends time in a school and talks to kids knows that there is a culture both of everyday cruelty but also of protracted campaigns that kids cannot escape.
And when there are no rules at schools, when there’s no consciousness and when there’s a denial of the problem, kids cannot be safe and they cannot study.
COOPER: Rosalind, there are those who say — and we had just heard from some of them on the program — who say, look, you know, this is a way to spread the homosexuality or acceptance of homosexuality in schools throughout the country and some parents are saying, look, I don’t feel comfortable with that.
WISEMAN: Well, I think that’s ridiculous. Because we are not — when we talk about kids being safe from bullying, we are not talking about a pro-homosexual agenda unless a pro-homosexual agenda is that we think all children deserve to be treated with dignity. And if that is the pro-homosexual agenda, then I, as a straight person, are — I am completely for it.
And I would hope that we would all be behind that kind of agenda. So to think that we can in any way be against kids being safe for some kind of so-called agenda besides kids being safe makes absolutely no sense. And I believe that adults in every way when we have kids that we — are important to us or we have relationships with, that we have got to get behind the — beyond the politics of this and look at our children and be able to go where they are and to be useful to them and meaningful to them so they can trust us that we can be safe for them.
COOPER: But Rosalind, and there is the idea that the school district in Minnesota where they have what they call a neutrality policy.
COOPER: Where they’re not using specific words of gay or lesbian. You say that’s not effective.
WISEMAN: Well, it’s not only not effective, it’s actually totally counterproductive to everything that Rachel just said. Because neutrality in the face of the — of an abuse of power is not neutrality. It is siding with the bully. So if you are going to — if you’re going to believe in what’s called neutrality policy, what you’re really believing is a way for kids to go after other kids and do nothing about it.
COOPER: Rachel, do you agree with that, that you have to use these terms, that neutrality doesn’t work or so-called neutrality doesn’t work?
SIMMONS: I do think neutrality doesn’t work. I find the whole thing shocking. I mean we don’t send American workers to their workplaces in this country saying, just do your job and we’re not going to protect you if something happens to you.
Likewise, we can’t send children to school in this country assuming that we’re just going to teach you or we’re not going to protect you if something happens to you. These are not children. We’re not educating part of the child. We have to be mindful of the whole child if we really want to do justice to our education system and to the young citizens of our country.
Our deep thanks to Dave Evans of SuchIsLifeVideos for this important clip.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.