Ramblings

Hop Against Homophobia

Last month, a teenager at Arsenal Tech High School here in Indianapolis was reprimanded and eventually expelled for firing a stun gun at school. Why did Darnell “Dynasty” Young own a stun gun, let alone have it in his possession on school property? The answer is horrifying yet simple–his mother gave it to him because she didn’t know any other way to help her son cope with the bullying he endures on a daily basis.

When I saw this story on our local news, I was shocked and angry and saddened, as much by the desperation I felt as a mother myself–that I’d do anything to protect my children–as by the fact that the faculty and administrators of Darnell’s high school seem to feel that it was somehow his fault that he was being bullied in the first place. Darnell, you see, is what some might call flamboyant, and the powers-that-be at Arsenal Tech seem to equate Darnell’s mannerisms and the way he dresses as an open invitation for bullying, much the same way that society re-victimizes rape victims by believing that if they’d only dressed less provocatively, they’d never have been raped. The rationalization behind that mentality is so ass backwards that it terrifies me to think these people are in charge of molding and shaping future generations of this country’s youth.

I live in a northern suburb of Indianapolis, not far from Darnell’s neighborhood, in terms of miles, but worlds away in terms of advantages and opportunities. My community couldn’t be more typically middle to upper class Midwestern if it tried, though we are becoming more beautifully diverse. It’s wonderful to see how much my children’s classrooms have changed for the better over the years–they don’t look like a white-on-white 1950s television show anymore–but for all that, the families who populate the area still fit the Mom/Dad/2.2 kids demographic.

There’s one thing my community and our school district does very, very right, though. The administration has implemented a Zero Tolerance Bullying Policy, but even better than that, they enforce it, which is the important part in the equation. My daughter is a sixteen-year-old sophomore at one of the high schools in town, so I have inside information on the inner workings of her school. I know that there’s a Gay/Straight Alliance at her school. I know that the couples at her school who walk down the hallways holding hands and who sneak kisses by their lockers between classes aren’t all Male/Female. I know that gay and lesbian students go to the prom together–as couples–and I know that my daughter says that she’s never witnessed an incident of any of these couples being bullied on school property or at school sponsored functions.

I’m not so naive as to believe it doesn’t happen elsewhere, but I’m so proud to know that there are adults in charge of my children while they’re at school who value diversity and the right to live and to love openly.

Hop on over to the Hop Against Homophobia website and join some of the participating authors and organizations that are working for and celebrating our diversity.

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24 thoughts on “Hop Against Homophobia

    • Good mornin’, pookie. ::smooches::

      Darnell’s story touched my heart, made me sad. I know it made national news, so I hope it strikes a chord with someone who can make a difference for him and others who’re going through the same things he is.

      Like

    • Hi Jay. ((hugs))

      My daughter participates in a peer mentoring program at her school that pairs developmentally disabled kids with students who’re there to be a helping hand to them and basically just to be an “able” friend.

      Their slogan is “spread the word to end the word”, the goal being to get people to stop using the word “retarded”, especially in a derogatory way.

      “Spread the word to end the word”…it fits for so many situations where bullying or discrimination is involved.

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      • Jay Ross says:

        Lisa – thanks for the reply. As you know I’ve fallowed your reviews for a long time – both on Top 2 Bottom and now on Novel Approch. Many of your reviews have inspired me to purchase the books and no regrets. Again thanks and hugs – Jay

        Like

  1. I forget which online news show I was watching when I saw that story, but the general consensus of both the casters and the comments section was that the kid should have dressed differently *and* toned down his “behavior.” You know, change everything that made him *him.* And they felt like they were only asking him to give up such a little thing, because it’s not important for people to explore who they really are or anything.

    Thankfully, I saw more supportive comments than I would have expected even a year ago, and I hope Darnell Young’s next learning environment enables him to learn and grow and be happy.

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    • Hi Rowan,

      I so agree. That sort of attitude does nothing but empower the bullies, justifies their actions, and diminishes who Darnell is by demanding he work harder to “blend in”. I’m not sure how anyone in their right mind can think that someone’s mannerisms or the way he dresses justifies throwing rocks at that person. It’s pretty shameful.

      Sadly, Darnell’s was attacked again just a few days ago at the mall in downtown Indy, this time by a 34 year old man.

      Like

      • That’s terrible. Is there any way to get mail to this kid? Maybe we can organize a way to get him cards and care packages to let him know that people care. Maybe they can be anonymous to a) make it feel like the big wide universe is looking out for him and (b) so he wouldn’t have to deal with any added stigma that would likely happen in a place like that over receiving mail from a bunch of erotica writers.

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        • I don’t know any contact information for Darnell, but there are a lot of positive things going on for him in the city. Here’s a LINK to a recent article that is so encouraging. The last line in the piece is a quote from Darnell:

          “It’s overwhelming,” Young said. “It’s crazy how much support I have here.”

          I’m so glad he’s feeling loved. :)

          Like

  2. Great post and tough to read.

    I just wanted to say “Thank You” to everyone for letting me be included in your Hop Against Homophobia. I am afraid I am not a talented m/m fiction writer like yourself but I am an avid reader of it.

    Actually when you are a straight girl who writes gay porn for an adult studio it is hard to fit in anywhere so I really appreciated how warmly I was welcomed into your group.
    http://shadowsterling.blogspot.com/2012/04/studio-i-write-for.html

    But this is a cause I feel strongly about and I wanted to let you know I appreciate the opportunity to be included.

    Shadow Sterling

    Like

  3. Andrea says:

    This is the first I have heard of Darnell’s story. It makes me wonder what our local schools do about bullying. I have a 5 year old in the schools, I should know these things. Thanks for opening my eyes a little bit today.

    Like

    • Hi Andrea,

      Not all school systems are cut from the same cloth, obviously. We just happen to be very lucky in that regard. I think they all probably have anti-bullying policies, the question is how strictly they’re enforced. We’re all smart enough to know that the rules don’t mean squat if there’s no one there to make sure they’re being applied to every child in every situation, regardless of what the bullying involves.

      Thanks for reading about Darnell.

      Like

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and reading Darnell’s story. I hope someday he, and others who want nothing more than have the right to be whom they are, will be able to do so without fear. There’s a long way to go, but every journey begins with the first step.

      Like

  4. Education has to come from school and the home in this area. If we can’t rely on teachers to give the right message, it’s very sad. Bullying in unacceptable for ANY reason. It’s hard enough for kids that are different to go about their daily lives without ignorance making it worse.

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  5. Thank you all so much for stopping by! I’m glad to share Darnell’s story in spite of the fact that it’s so utterly sad.

    I just posted a much happier blog about a couple at my daughter’s school. If you’re interested in reading about some of the good things that can come from education and opening hearts and minds, click HERE.

    Like

  6. Foretta says:

    Thank you so much for participating in the hop. I hope that this helps to spread the word and that one day a hop like this will no longer be needed. I have shown many of the post to my nieces and nephews. We recently have been discussing how damaging bullying is and how innocent remarks can make you be seen as being a bully. One of the things that makes me mad is when I hear…you’re so gay… pisses me off. These post have helped them already. I heard my nephew stand up to someone that called someone else a hurtful name… I was so proud. Thank you all for helping by sharing hurtful and/sad memories and your personal views/message.
    I pray one day for equality for EVERYONE not just some.
    forettarose@yahoo.com

    Like

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing the experience with your nieces and nephews. See, you’re serving to participate in the next step in this whole process–Education. Future generations have to learn from us, now, that loving someone who loves you in return isn’t limited by the equipment that person comes with.

      I posted a positive story this morning that shows some of the progress my own kids are witnessing firsthand in the fight. If you’re interested, click HERE.

      And thanks for spreading the word!

      Like

  7. It sounds as though more schools should be run by people like the one who runs your daughter’s. That the school does nothing about bullying in this day and age is awful. I know bullying was bad for me in the 80s but at least I never had to resort to carrying a stun gun when I went to school. The authorities at that school should be looking for the bullies not excluding the victim.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us.

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    • After the responses I’ve received to this post and the post I did yesterday about my daughter’s friend Derek and his boyfriend Ty, I’m beginning to realize how blessed we are to live where we do. Indiana will never be a hotbed of progressive thinking, but our school system is hopefully paving the way for a more tolerant generation of kids who embrace a live and let live mentality.

      For a school system to blame the victim for abuse in any form is ludicrous. Darnell is getting a lot of local support, though, to be who he’s meant to be. It’s so encouraging to see in spite of the fact he’s had to go through what he has. The boy needs to know he’s loved. :)

      Like

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