I’m always amazed by the ignorance of some people, particularly politicians and – in specific – politicians from the GOP. The latest ignoramus is a GOP senate hopeful from the state of New Mexico, Heather Wilson. According to Wilson, Senator Al Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act, which protects LGBT students from bullying, violates the First Amendment. What Wilson is actually saying is that the bill violates the free-speech rights of bullies and criminalizes the act of teasing, which all kids do. Apparently an expert on many subjects, Wilson further asserts that children who have not reached puberty are not able to determine whether or not they are gay. Perhaps you’ll appreciate the level of her ignorance by watching the video below.
One thing is certain: Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Congresswoman, is dead wrong. Students in schools across America know far better than she does. April 20 was GLSEN’s National Day of Silence, the largest student-led action to draw attention to the harm caused by anti-LGBT bullying. Had Al Franken’s legislation been in place, perhaps 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn would be alive today.
A month ago, Kenneth had the courage to tell his family and fellow students that he was gay. Today, he’s another sad statistic in the annals of anti-LGBT bullying. What followed Kenneth’s courageous revelation were weeks of relentless bullying, both on Facebook and in school, where he endured taunts of “Queer!” and – according to friends – far worse. Kenneth was a freshman at South O’Brien Community School in Paulina, Iowa. He was a member of the Thundercats soccer team, and enjoyed shopping, video games, rollerblading, and spending time with his family. Even though he put on a brave face and pretended that none of the torment bothered him, the bullying became too much and, on April 14, Kenneth Weishuhn hung himself in his garage.
Kenneth’s sister and best friend, Kayla, tells his tragic story in this moving video.
Here’s a message for Heather Wilson and the rest of the misfit politicians who think as she does: Bulling is at epidemic proportions in schools all across this country. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the inner city, the suburbs, or rural America. Kenneth Weishuhn is not the first child to be bullied to death, and he will probably not be the last. Bullying is not good-natured teasing. There’s a very clear difference. Bullies have but one intent: To hurt someone. Bullying will not stop unless it is addressed and unless the bullies are held accountable. Passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act is the beginning of what is sorely lacking in American schools at all levels: A zero tolerance policy for bullying.
I have just started a petition on Change.org to urge the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to pass Senator Al Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act. If you have been moved by Kenneth Weishunh’s story, please go and sign the petition. Please also pass the link along to as many as you can. If we can get 1,000 signatures, perhaps we can get 5,000 signatures. The link is below: