Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dear LGBT teens, heterosexual teens, parents and teachers:

I'll be honest, I don't normally talk about things going on in the media, but I want to take a short break here from my "Vacation Highway" of blogging to do so...primarily because this issue of bullying hits home for me.

As a kid in both Jr. High and High School I was picked on incessantly. If it wasn't for my weight (which is funny as I was actually tiny, 105 lbs!) it was for my faith. If it wasn't that it was for being different or having a dad who was their teacher and disciplined them (obviously because they bloody well needed it!).

I got picked on for being STRAIGHT and not having a boyfriend. (There is no limit to what kids will select as their ammunition).

I was followed home from school by kids who threatened to kick my ass.

I was blamed for things I didn't do...being others scapegoat.

It didn't matter the class...or the year I was in...or if I was even IN the classroom! I had a stint where a girl used to give me utter hell everytime I had to go to my locker. I would try and carry as much as I could so as to not have to go back to it during the day...but "lunch time" happens and there she'd be.

It started in 1st Grade and it continued until my senior year...slowing down in 9th grade when I finally stopped "taking it" and stood up verbally to one of my bullies. Obviously Jr. High was worse...but though it let up by high school it was still there...and by then let's be honest; the damage was done. I had low self esteem, thought I was ugly, always kept an eye out for trouble coming my way, said very little in school so as to not give them any amunition, and basically retreated into myself when I wasn't in theatre class or on stage.

Did I want to kill myself? No. I suppose I figured that would mean those assholes had "won" if I did that. But was I miserable? Yes. My mom would always know when I was dealing with the worst of it because, as she says, "You'd come home from school and sleep. You'd be awake just long enough for dinner and homework and then you'd be asleep again." I still sleep when stressed to be honest. But as weird as it sounds, its a much better option than sleeping permanently.

The fact that bullying has now jumped to ridicule LGBT teens...on top of all the other breaks my heart and makes me quite angry. A person's sexual preference is something they're born with; like your nose or ears. To be teased for it is absolutely uncalled for!

I'm a certified Secondary Education Teacher and have taught both middle school and high school. As a teacher I watched kids go through this and I stepped in every chance I could. If you're a teacher don't sit by attention...listen to the kids around their behavior. It can take one teacher who cares to make a difference.

I say the same to parents/adults. We all push through our lives often focused on ourselves and our issues...and the "teen problems" seem trite in comparison. Remember...they're not trite to those going through them for the first time. Take time to listen to your teen. It will make all the difference for them now...and later in life. My parent's were super supportive...and I knew I could always tell them things. I have no doubt that had a lot to do with my state of mind.

To fellow students I say this; these years are NOT the years to attack, but to help each other grow into the amazing adults you can be. To see kids pick on each other to make themselves feel better is wrong. Whether they do it to get attention or because they're lashing out to ease their own pain OR just because they're a ruthless, self-obsorbed, mean & bitter excuse for a human being does NOT give you the right to watch it happen and do nothing. Help your fellow students. If you all do that, the bullies will lose their it back to you, the one who deserves it.

I had a friend in college who was having problems at home. His family life was super rough. He was a extremely talented artist and had just gotten a full scholarship to a huge university for the following year...yet...he shot himself in the head one night. I have no idea how this made sense to him or how long I cried. What an unbelievable waste. He would've been out of that situation in six months! Or, better yet, he could've gone to live with a friend. But that wasn't his choice...and I desperately wish it hadn't been.

And though he wasn't gay, many of my friends are gay or lesbian. They are some of the most powerful, talented, giving, accepting and loving individuals I know. If you are LGBT and feel like you're flailing let me tell you're not the only one...and it's not just LGBT's who are getting treated like this...its almost everyone in school. So hang on, remember that there is a rainbow called "college" that is waiting for you where you'll get to be yourself without ridicule and you'll know many people who've gone through the same things. Suicide isn't an answer, it's a cop's giving in to the bullies and giving up...and you're better than that. You're better than them who pick on you, too.

Now, if you are a LGBT teen and need someone to talk to...and you can't talk to your parents or you don't have a friend who can call the Trevor Project. They are a 24/7 hotline for LGBT teens who need someone to talk to. The Trevor Lifeline number is 866-4-U-TREVOR.

For more information on them go here:

And one needs to love you but you! And if you can see the good in yourself and love yourself for your differences...others will too. Trust me, you're not alone. Plus, there are people who can help...just take a moment before you do something you can't take back. Most everyone, including that so called "in crowd", gets picked on. I know you don't believe that, but they all have someone who razzes the hell outta them too. Maybe it's not at school...maybe its at home...but trust me, they have it also.

So please, LGBT teens, let these string of suicides give you the courage to NOT follow in their footsteps...but to reach out to someone who accepts and loves you for who you are. With a world this size, trust me, there's many out there who do.

With much love, understanding, acceptance and support,

Tamsin xo :)

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