The Dignity For All Students Act, a sweeping anti-bullying bill, sponsored by openly gay Daniel O'Donnell, has overwhelmingly passed in New York's state Assembly.
The new act would afford all persons in public schools an environment free of harassment and discrimination based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, weight, gender, or sex. The bill has been endorsed by Governor Paterson although it has yet to be taken up by the Senate. O'Donnell has called on the state Senate to pass the bill immediately. Only five of O'Donnell's colleagues in the Assembly voted against his bill.
Some folks say this is too much, that bullying is "kid's play," that it's all in good fun. Boys will be boys. Well, as a boy who was bullied in school, I wish there had been some sort of protection when i was a kid. Hell, I would have been happy with a little common sense.
I can remember being in junior high class, and having a teacher ask me a question. I didn't like having the spotlight on me, but I was a shy kid, and shyness breeds manners, so I quietly answered the question; correctly, too, I might add. Then, from the back of the room I distinctly heard someone say Faggot. I heard him; the people around me heard him, because there were giggles. I know the teacher heard him, but he just went on with the lesson as though nothing happened.
I remember being in the locker room changing for gym class, when one of those bullies came up to me. I knew what was coming so I tried to look away, but, of course, that only gives a bully power. He walked right up to me and pushed his face close to mine, and asked, Are you gay?
I stammered and stuttered, knowing however I answered the question would be wrong. No, would get me called a liar. Yes, would probably mean worse. So, I stayed silent, and he asked again.
Are. You. Gay?
I closed my eyes wishing it would all go away and when I opened them again he was even closer. He kept coming closer and then he kissed me, on the mouth. Then he shoved me into a locker and said, I knew it, and ran outside. By the time I got out to the basketball courts he had told everyone that I tried to kiss him.
They say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger; sometimes. Other times it just makes you afraid to walk the halls alone.