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.
For the week of October 22nd the three things you need to know are all about Fairness WV’s annual conference on November 10th at the Charleston Civic Center.
First thing you should know is that bullying is not the only experience of teenagers that struggle with their orientation or identity. Homelessness, suicide, substance abuse, and family rejection are common experiences for young adults finding themselves. Learn about these increased risk factors during an all conference panel featuring prevention experts and youth leaders.
Second thing you should know is that student’s who form support networks and gay-straight alliances (GSA) make a powerful difference in building resiliency and making their schools safer. High school GSA leaders and faculty advisers lead a breakout session about how these groups can make a difference.
Third thing you should know is that the early registration ends this Friday. If you want to learn more about how to plan to make a difference, register today!