Monday, March 28, 2011

In North Carolina, Bullies Come In All Shapes and Sizes

You may have caught last week’s Fresh Air, when Terry Gross interviewed columnist Dan Savage and Terry Miller about their marriage, the adoption of their son, and the impact of their “It Gets Better” movement, on teenage bullying.

The "It Gets Better" movement, as it's now called, spurred by a rash of teen suicides in 2010, is based on the premise that if older gay people offer hope and encouragement to gay teens, the teens would realize that their lives were worth living. Thereby, Savage and Miller created a YouTube video about their own experiences being bullied as teens, to tell teenagers a simple message about the future: It gets better.

The "It Gets Better" movement is now a global sensation, receiving over 10,000 video submissions, including entries from the likes of President Obama to Ke$ha. This month, Savage and Miller also published a companion book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living, featuring essays from more than 100 of the video contributors.

Notwithstanding the recent success of Savage and Miller’s now-viral campaign and its premise of older advocates offering encouragement to gay teens, we’re proud to say that Equality North Carolina was ahead of the curve. In 2009, ENC helped to win passage of a historic law assuring North Carolina public school students have the inclusive anti-bullying protections they deserve. In the end, our hope was that by curbing bullying in North Carolina classrooms, we would lessen the likelihood that local teens would lose hope and be tempted to take their own lives.

But despite these past legislative successes, now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that bullies come in all shapes, sizes…and even ages.

Instead of dealing with pressing economic issues as promised, North Carolina Republican Senator Jim Forrester and a small group of NC legislators are pushing to pass an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment. The bill is meant to write discrimination into North Carolina’s founding document and, with a series of votes, write part of the state’s population out of rights and protections they deserve. This month, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James revealed the real purpose behind the proposed amendment: making LGBT people unwelcome in the Tar Heel State. "We don't want them here," James told the Raleigh News & Observer.

That’s one heckuva message to gay teens.

What’s more, this proposed bill is considered the most extreme version of an anti-LGBT amendment, including:

  • not only limiting marriage to gay and lesbian couples, as state statute already does, but also prohibiting any other form of relationship recognition, such as civil union or domestic partnership--forms of recognition that a majority of North Carolinians clearly support;
  • potentially taking away private benefits such as health insurance for LGBT couples, unmarried opposite-sex couples, and their children and challenging private contracts between couples; and
  • writing bigotry and discrimination into our state's founding document, and, with the same stroke, removing the rights and responsibilities that are currently available to some couples.

Once again, Equality North Carolina is taking the lead in fighting these bullies for you and yours. And this time you can join ENC and other fair-minded North Carolinians who believe basic rights are not up for vote and these bullies need to be put in their place!

Join Us on the EQUALITY IN ACTION Tour.
Following the success of our Winston-Salem, Durham and Charlotte events, Equality North Carolina invites you to get informed and involved through a series of statewide town hall meetings devoted to discussing the proposed anti-LGBT constitutional amendment. Upcoming stops on the tour include Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Asheville. Supporters who cannot attend a local stop on the EQUALITY IN ACTION Tour can follow the @equalitync action on Twitter at the hashtag: #equalityaction.

"Write" Anti-LGBT Wrongs With the EQUALITY IN ACTION Postcard
Getting our postcards signed by friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers is a great way to both bring the anti-LGBT amendment issue to light while also letting local legislators know that fair-minded voters in their district care about equal rights. Request your pack of postcards today.

Help Fund This Fight to Build a STATE OF EQUALITY.
Join our statewide movement against LGBT discrimination with a donation to Equality North Carolina today. A special thanks to everyone who has recently made donations, with an extra special thanks to all who have become monthly donors--a great way to provide sustained support during this pivotal time!

And as always, thank you for joining with Equality North Carolina—your statewide source for LGBT rights and justice—as we grow our own local movement to fight against this proposed legislation and for the shared rights of all North Carolinians.

With your help, it indeed does get better.

- Jen Jones, Equality NC


  1. This is awesome and inspiration to all suicidal teenagers who don't know how to handle their sexuality. At least some people are ready to help :)

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