This entry is by Student Ambassador Brandon S. A week ago I was invited to speak on a panel after a screening of Lee Hirsh's new movie Bully. I remember how a few days before I was invited a headline caught my eye while I was flipping through articles in my phone. "Motion Picture Accreditation Association: Don't let the bullies win! Give 'bully' a PG-13 instead of an R rating." I researched the issue, Bully was given an R rating for "language", about 3 instances when students cursed while bullying another student, which is completely appropriate for a movie ABOUT bullying. As an GLSEN Media Ambassador, I realized that the film could reach the most people that needed to see it, youth who are bullied or people who bully others that don't feel comfortable telling their parents about their situation, if it was rated PG-13. I was confident about my knowledge on how Bully would help students and adult allies across the country address and fight bullying, but I was nonetheless nervous to be on a panel with Eliza Byard, GLSENs executive director, congressmen Mike Honda, a leader in the Japanese American (JA) community and the director himself, Lee Hirsh, but confidence came to envelop me as I remembered my ambassador training with GLSEN just a few months before, and the opportunity afforded to me to represent youth issues on a forum with community leaders I admired.
The conversation on the panel ranged from youth empowerment to changing culture in America, from what we can do in terms of policy to help educators educate the nations youth on respect. I even got to bring up how bully culture is only perpetuated by things like zero tolerance policies that assign disciplinary action to incidents without involving counseling into the required courses of action. These policies only punish youth--often times everyone involved--without taking into account what is happening with the youth, not attempting to educate but rather just punishing the youth. How does this help teaching people who bully that bullying is wrong? It was an amazing experience, I got a lot of feedback from people who appreciated the issues I brought up, and I met Kathy Griffin!!! I felt empowered, as a Media Ambassador, as a member of GLSEN, as a youth who wants to make a difference and is. None of which would have been possible without GLSEN providing the oppurtunity for youth like me to empower ourselves and represent the organization. Thank you GLSEN! Applications for 2012 - 2013 will be available in early April. If you are a middle or high school student and are interested in being a Student Media Ambassador, visit www.glsen.org soon. Photo credit Sarah Taylor