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Michael’s Story

Michael, from St. Albans, was harassed in middle school for who he was. He even encountered death threats and violence. While his situation improved in high school, he remembers the torment of those earlier years.
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Bradley's Story

Bradley’s Story

Watch Bradley Milam, Fairness West Virginia program director, tell his story of going to school in Raleigh County. Experiences like the ones he describes have inspired him to help make WV schools safer for students today. Read more

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Making WV Bully-Free

WV Bully-Free is the safe schools campaign by Fairness West Virginia and the ACLU of West Virginia. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students are frequent targets of bullying, and it needs to stop. See what we’re doing and how you can help. Read more

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Morgan Spurlock stars in WVBully-Free PSA

Watch WVBullyFree PSA!

Watch WVBullyFree PSA!

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU of WV) and Fairness West Virginia (Fairness WV) proudly presents a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) in hopes to increase public education about the dangerous reality of bullying in West Virginia. The PSA, which is the capstone of “WV Bully Free,” is narrated by West Virginia filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, Where in The World is Osama bin Laden) and recounts the real life experience of Matthew, a student from St. Albans, West Virginia.

Matthew’s story is shocking but not uncommon.   He like many youth was the victim of bullying based on his sexual orientation.  According to a 2009 school climate survey conducted by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), two out of three students felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.  Yet until this school year the documentation of bullying based on sexual orientation was non-existent.

“Fairness West Virginia is so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the ACLU of West Virginia to loudly say to all children, parents, and educators of this state, bullying in our schools, on our playgrounds, and in our communities, is not acceptable anymore, for any reason including that which has been so viciously directed towards these kids who are or are perceived to be gay,” said Fairness West Virginia Board President Dr. Coy Flowers.  “All children, straight or gay, deserve to achieve an education safe from harm and free from bullying.”

“With the passage of a new school board policy last December which allows for the documentation of bullying based on sexual orientation, we can now begin to honestly address the reality of LGBT bullying,” said ACLU of WV Executive Director Brenda Green. “Every student has the right to feel safe at school.”

The ACLU of West Virginia and Fairness would like to extend special thanks to the PSA’s production team, which includes Jon Matthews (writer, director), and producers, Karen McIntyre, Paige Hill, and Maddy Yasner.  Additional thanks go to Michael Lipton and Tristram Lozaw for producing the music.



What song empowers you to stand up to bullying?

Every Wednesday I post a song from my iPod that inspires us to stand up to bullying. This week, I have been super stressed about Fairness West Virginia Institute’s conference and I need a good laugh. This song about expressing yourself from Billy Elliot is just what the doctor ordered!



It takes time to make all the things right!

Every Wednesday I post a song from my iPod that inspires us to stand up to bullying. This week we are going back to Broadway! Memphis is a great historical musical about race relations in the South during the 1950s. In this song the mother of the main character finally accepts her son’s interracial relationship. Her faith helps her find her way and allows her “to carry on and pray that there’s a better day!” This is a song about joining together and working toward a better world because “Change don’t come quickly, no, not partick’ly [sic], It takes time to make all the wrongs right.”

What song empowers you to stand up to bullying? Send your anti-bullying theme song to !


The Stars of the Show

Last week we talked about the different roles that people take on in a typical bullying incident.Students can be bullies, supporters, bystanders, upstanders, or targets. (It is worth mentioning that when a larger cast is involved, many researchers identify up to nine or ten different roles, but I think it’s good to keep it simple.) The stars of the show, the bully and the target, merit some additional discussion.


So what do you think a bully looks like? Does a physically large and arrogant man come to mind? This description may indeed fit some bullies, but for others it does not fit at all. Both boys and girls bully, and they may have good or bad self-images.Students who bully come from all kinds of home situations, from kind and loving to miserable and neglecting. Anyone can be a bully; unfortunately, we are all capable of acting in a way that makes someone feel unwanted or less than human.


Passive targets are what most people think of when they imagine a person who has been bullied. They are the polar opposite of the stereotypical bully- small, weak, and unassertive. In reality, passive victims, just like bullies, come in all shapes and sizes.

Targets are not always passive victims! Although some victims of bullying tend to bottle things up and internalize their anger, others are quite different. Some targets, provocative targets, adopt poor coping strategies that tend to make the problem worse. Other even assume the role of bully themselves and become bully-victims

Provocative targets of bullying adopt negative coping behaviors either because they were never taught how to cope properly or because they are unable to do so. Students who fall within the autism spectrum or who have Attention Deficit Disorder are especially likely to become provocative targets; these students typically lack conventional social skills and as such are already prone to isolation from others. Provocative targets need to be positively affirmed and connected with people who can model appropriate coping strategies. 


Everyone is a hero!

Every Wednesday I post a song from my iPod that inspires us to stand up to bullying. I hope this will provide some mid-week inspiration to everyone. Inspired by last week’s advice to be “slightly unconventional,” I am featuring song that really has mixed messages.

Captain Hammer is definitely showing how he is a bully by condescending to the homeless, but the line “every one is a hero in their own way” is a good reminder that everyone has a remarkable super power. Additionally the line “everyone’s got villains they must face” is also a reminder that everyone has problems. And just as you may not know someone else’s superhero-like qualities, similarly, you may be unaware of what problems that person is dealing with. Take the good things in this song and leave the bad, but know that there is good in everything, even in a condescending bully like Captain Hammer.

What song empowers you to stand up to bullying? Send your anti-bullying theme song to !