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When a Missouri student recently sought to educate his Facebook friends on the tragedy of gay teen suicide, one of his teachers chastised him by posting a comment mocking his concerns. In frustration, the student confronted his teacher with the following post: “How many more kids have to kill themselves before everyone realizes this is an issue?” The teacher posted: “11-13 ought to do it. Somewhere in that vicinity.” Once confronted, the teacher apologized, claimed he was unsure how his remarks ended up on Facebook, and refused to answer further questions. He continues to teach. When such people’s inner thoughts are mysteriously being posted by Facebook, it must be a conspiracy!  

When a Wyoming high school football coach recently issued a mock bullying survey called the “Hurt Feelings Report,” he was removed as high school coach and reassigned to the position of “guidance counselor.” Administration officials claimed they wanted to move him into an area where he can do his best work. Below is a sample of the coach’s mock survey in which bullied students can check off whether they are “queer,” “have woman like hormones,” “am a pussy,” or a number of other insensitive options. I am left asking myself just one question: what exactly are his guidance counseling talents? 

The thing I appreciate about the Clint McCance case (2010) is that he
absorbed the full weight of his atrocious comments on Facebook by
appearing in front of a national AC360 audience to express remorse
and resign from his school board position. I cannot minimize his hurtful words, but at least he accepted responsibility for how dangerous his words were to young people.

People are not perfect, but when mistakes are made it is always best to accept full responsibility. As I prepare on the eve of our gay teen suicide prevention event, The Church That Saves Lives, I am reminded of how important it is that we keep surfacing the stories of adult bullies who think it’s comedy to harass gay teens. Insensitive words and actions really do hurt.

There is nothing funny about teasing teens over sexuality – or their weight – or any other issue. Join us for a great event tomorrow night in Greater Boston. 

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