Lady Gaga, 25, real name Stefani Germanotta, visited the White House this week "to talk about the important issue of bullying" according to CBS News, and ways to curb it. In Pres. Obama's absence, she met with presidential advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and staff members from the Office of Public Engagement.
While I agree that schools should be safe zones for students, and that bullying cannot be tolerated, my personal experience with the issue has a positive ending so I felt obligated to share my story.
It wasn't easy being over 6' feet tall in high school. I felt awkward and out of place… until I joined the basketball team. I was the coach's favorite, and when I practiced or played, I felt completely safe. But when I stepped off the court, I entered a world of stares, hurtful comments, and name-calling…Amazon woman, Big Bird, She-He, etc. Was it bullying? Did it cross the line of a punishable act? I'm not sure. All I know is that it hurt. Even my best friend, and I love her dearly, was guilty. Would I want her imprisoned for her lack of good judgment? No. But what I've learned since those awkward years, is that kids are just idiots with no conception of the damage their words cause. And if the truth were known, when they attack other kids, they are merely masking their own insecurities.
After leaving high school, I was awarded a full ride scholarship to do something I would have done for free...play basketball. And the men I would pass in the halls were taller than me so I could finally walk with straight posture. If I hadn't been given the arms, legs, dexterity, and agility that I have, I wouldn't be the person I am today. And the teasing about my height, while it certainly hurt and made me feel self conscience at the time, was nothing in comparison to the verbal bashing I would get from my college basketball coaches for blowing a shot. I earned a Psychology degree, and I'm attending medical school with the intention of becoming a Psychiatrist.
As I look back at my high school experience, and the awkwardness, pain, and insecurities that I felt, I realize it made me the strong, confident woman I am today. There are so many injustices in the world- too many to count. The kids in high school that most would assume had it all, weren't as together as one may have thought. When you peel back the layers of any kid, you will find internal family problems, sibling problems, economic problems, etc. It is how you deal with those issues that builds character.
My heart goes out to 14-year-old Lady Gaga fan Jamey Rodemeyer, who was subjected to years of taunting about his sexuality before taking his own life in September. Gaga is committed to keeping his memory alive and bringing awareness to the serious consequences that bullying can cause. I applaud her efforts!
In the end, we must pray for Jamey and those in similar situations, create awareness programs beginning with elementary education, hold our local school officials accountable, and insist parents take an active role in their kids' lives. It’s amazing the difference a good hug from a close family member can make.
Please watch the Jonah Mowry video that went viral after LG visited the WH. He is an Orange County kid that finally had enough. He posted this video at 4:00am, dreading having to start 8th grade. Since distributing the video, his life has improved. He put his foot down. Stood his ground. Enlisted the love and support of his family. And is thriving today.
He made a HUGE impact. Thank you, Jonah for daring to be YOU!