- October 3, 2014
Post submitted by Gerry Orz, a 12-year-old youth activist, reporter, actor and film producer.
Almost every day, youth around the world experience bullying for being unique. These kids are the future. But how can they reach their potential if they face so much hurt and hate? I know it can happen because it happened to me.
I was in the third grade and just moved to California with my two moms. I proudly told my peers about my parents, which immediately caused a reaction, and not a good one. “You have two mothers? Where is your dad? Who is taking you fishing, teaching you how to play ball?”
To me, my life is 100 percent normal. My parents are great and can do anything. From helping with art projects to fixing a car, they can do it all. My peers didn’t understand. They thought I was gay because my parents are gay. They would bully me about other things too and it made the next two and half months the worst in my life.
I was called names and pushed to the ground and I started wondering if I’m worthy of living. I was ashamed to tell my moms the truth. I finally came clean after my teacher after doing some research about suicides stories. Coincidently, I saw Ellen DeGeneres the next day talking about a victim who lost his life to bullying and asked everyone to help stop this epidemic. I decided to make a difference through creating a film that kids my age would relate to. I wrote and directed “Day of Silence” and posted it on YouTube. Soon after, my local State Senator, Carol Lui, invited me to Sacramento. I addressed the Senate and December 12 became an official annual bullying prevention day in California.
According to HRC’s survey of 10,000 youth, Growing Up LGBT in America, LGBT middle school students reported far more harassment than LGBT high school students or straight students.
Among middle school LGBT students surveyed, 58 percent reported being excluded for being different, 67 percent reported being harassed and 28 percent reported being physically assaulted at school.
Like HRC, I believe that if we work together, we can put an end to bullying in schools across America. I even founded NPO Kids Recourse, which is dedicated to teaching kids how to deal with today's problems through visual education.
Let’s remember not just this month, but also all year, that no one is born to bully. We are what we learn and civic-minded education and tolerance should be taught in classrooms and homes across the world. I’m a former bullying victim, but that experience didn’t define me, and it should not define anyone ever again.
Orz’s new film, The Equation of Life, is premiering this month in alliance with Bullying Prevention Month.