Day 23: My Heroine for Courageous Love
The message below went out on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
My daughter is a 5th grader at a public charter school near Boston. The school was recently given an award for their anti-bullying program. That is, of course, admirable but for me it was overshadowed by the strange irony that as her school was being acknowledged for its exemplary work around bullying and oppression, my daughter was being openly and blatantly teased, derided and disrespected on campus for her stated sexuality.
She disclosed, in confidence to a school friend, that she was bi-sexual. Clearly, judging from the reactions of her peers, many didn’t know what to do with this information, didn’t really know what it meant and didn’t know, moving forward, how they should treat their classmate. Some thought it was cool and that was that. Some said to her that it was cool but then denigrated her in conversation with other students. Other students would call out to her on the sidewalk or across the schoolyard asking “Why are you bisexual?” Pre-adolescent posturing and giggles would often follow the question. No answer was expected or even desired. This experience of betrayal and public humiliation was happening daily after her stated sexuality became fodder for the school’s rumor mill and idle playground and hallway gossip.
At home, we spent many hours consoling and counseling our sometimes enraged and dejected young heroine as she wrestled through sobs and tears over the prejudices and hatred of her peers. Because we teach our daughter that silence is complicity and because she is a fiery and righteous person in her own right, we knew that she would want to speak out.
In order to celebrate her efforts in response to these incidents of bullying, I am taking the opportunity of National Standing on the Side of Love Day – a reimagined Valentine’s Day – to lift up the courage that my daughter displayed through her struggles with a Courageous Love Award.
Will you join me and lift up a story of courageous love to the Standing on the Side of Love community on the Courageous Love map:
I contacted the school and challenged them to respond in accordance with their stated policy on bullying. A series of emails and conversations took place between teachers, principals and the students involved. Counseling sessions between students and a visit by the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) from the high school were planned.
Weeks later the school held its own version of Challenge Day based on the MTV series of the same name. As my daughter related her experience of Challenge Day to us it was clear that she felt supported by her school and empowered by the support of the event. Some pretty powerful in-class activities took place. “If You Really Knew Me” and “The Power Shuffle” were two such activities that she described with satisfaction. Instead of attempting to slink into anonymity my young heroine stepped up and said during the “Crossing the Line” activity, “…if you are or you know somebody who is gay, bi-sexual or lesbian, cross the line.” My proud daughter reported that pretty much everybody crossed the line and some students acknowledged it with a smile flashed in her direction.
Students still ask her why she is bisexual. She just tells them, “Because I am.” School mates who were once uncertain now defend her and ask would be aggressors, “what does it matter if she’s bisexual or not?” Awareness has been fostered on campus but there’s much work still to be done.
Do you have someone in your life–a family member, friend, coworker, minister, teacher, neighbor, etc.–that has been your personal hero for courageous love? Valentine’s Day – our National Standing on the Side of Love Day — is a week away, so send a card to your hero today to let them know how much you appreciate the impact they have had on you.
Click here to download a card (links to a PDF) that you can personalize or custom make a card yourself or with your children! You can find more resources for celebrating Courageous Love in the Event Resources section of 30 Days of Love webpage, including certificates and a place to share your story of courageous love.
Peace and light,
Online Resource Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association