The worst kinds of bullying involve violence and hate crimes. Let’s discuss the latter. According to CBC News Canada, “The Criminal Code of Canada says a hate crime is committed to intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. The victims are targeted for who they are, not because of anything they have done.” It is ILLEGAL to commit a hate crime in person, over the telephone, or on the internet in Canada. I consider calling someone a derogatory name a means of intimidating a person by targeting her/him for who she/he is a hate crime.
In the US, hate crime is defined as: “A hate crime is usually defined by state law as one that involves threats, harassment, or physical harm and is motivated by prejudice against someone’s race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability” (uslegal.com). Laws on punishment for the offense of a hate crime vary by state, but are very harsh in states with hate crime statutes. Again, I see the words “harassment by prejudice against someone’s sexual orientation”. Therefore, bullying a gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgendered person is a hate crime.
What I am getting at is that calling someone a derogatory name based on their sexual orientation (this means if they are gay, straight, bi-sexual, or transgendered, or GLBT) is punishable by law. North American governments recognize hate crimes as an offense, and I believe that harassing and intimidating someone because of their sexual orientation is a hate crime. I think that more bullied GLBT teens should press charges based on being a victim of a hate crime. Let’s use our courts, our JUSTICE SYSTEM, to bring JUSTICE to people who are bullied because of who they love. We cannot stand idly by anymore and allow this to continue happening. Children and teens have committed suicide because of being bullied for their sexual orientation! This should outrage you! It is absolutely ridiculous that all youth cannot feel safe at their schools because of hate crime bullying. School officials should be ashamed if a student or group of students at their school has committed a hate crime against another student. Intolerant behavior is unacceptable and apparently that message hasn’t been sent loudly or clearly enough because we are having too many incidences of hate crime bullying today.
How can you help? Join an acceptance or tolerance club at your school. Join a gay-straight alliance at your school. If your school does not have clubs like this, gather some friends and start one. Ignorance will continue to spread without education. If you don’t “agree” with anything other than a heterosexual lifestyle, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t support your fellow human beings who don’t find themselves in that category. I find that one of our best strengths as females is our innate ability to show compassion and empathy for all people. Be kind to all whom you encounter. It is the only way this world will ever see peace.
Go to www.stopbullying.gov for more information and resources.