Sirdeaner Walker, mother of one of the boys who committed suicide in April, was in Washington yesterday. She testified in favor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, an anti-bullying bill currently before the
Department of Education and Labor in the House House Education and Labor Committee.
Very soon after Carl died, I heard from someone at an organization called GLSEN, which stands for Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. They were offering their sympathy and support and it meant a lot to me to learn that I wasn’t alone, that other families had gone through this.
But I have to admit, I felt a little nervous. My son was only 11. He didn’t identify as gay or as straight or anything like that. He was a child. Those kids at his school called him those names because they were probably the most hurtful things they could think of to say. And they hit their mark.
So, I didn’t really know what to expect when my contact with GLSEN brought me together with a diverse group of students, some of whom had been the victims of bullying. It was the National Day of Silence, a day that gets young people involved in raising awareness about bullying. These were kids from a pretty wide range of backgrounds. And what amazed me the most was not how different we all were, but how much common ground we had. We shared our stories, and it gave me hope and the courage to speak out on behalf of my son, Carl.
I know now that bullying is not a gay issue, or a straight issue. It’s a safety issue. It’s about what kind of learning environments we want for our children and how far we’re willing to go to protect and teach them.
For more on the Safe Schools Improvement Act, including a video archive of yesterday’s hearing, please visit the official page from the
Department of Education and Labor House Education and Labor Committee.