“Bullied” brings issues of bullying to light for students and faculty

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At the end of October, my advisory had watched a documentary, “Bullied,” about a man named Jamie Nabozny, a man who grew up in Northern Wisconsin, in the small town of Ashland. When Jamie started middle school, his life took a turn for the worst when he started middle school and was targeted and harassed for being homosexual. It didn’t end when he started high school; it actually got worse for Jamie, who endured several beatings that landed him in the hospital and one beating requiring surgery. Jamie ran away, to Minneapolis Minnesota. Eventually he came home to Ashland, but finishing high school required that he transfer schools.

After watching the entire documentary, a select few advisories and academic classes got to see Jamie speak. I appreciated being able to see Jamie, it put his story in perspective. Rather than being another film we had to watch, seeing him speak was a powerful way to follow the video because it put a face to the name. Every student in the room was able to connect to what he was saying in some way. Junior Danny Dutkiewitz said “he was very compassionate and loved what he did, all he wants to do is help schools so other kids don’t have to go through.” I think it’s important to understand that even if Jamie went to 20 different schools and only made a change in one it was well worthwhile, but I think that almost every school Jamie has traveled to, he’s made a difference.

Jamie’s personal Facebook page is open to the public. He regularly posts about gay rights and other issues of social Justice. Visitors can also see personal information, such as college, birthday, and pictures of him and his husband, their marriage license, and personal interests. This also allows anyone to message him about anything. Students send him stories about the positive changes their schools have made, to changes the students themselves have made, from leaving an abusive relationship to stopping bullying other students.

One of the lucky academic classes to go and see Jamie speak was Patricia Sheridan and Alexander Zilka’s American studies class. When asked why Sheridan brought her class, she said, “Alex Zilka and I brought our American Studies class for several reasons. First, we teach a unit on LGBTQ issues and explore the history of the gay rights movement. Our unit requires students to examine different milestones within the LGBTQ community ranging from the Mattachine Society and the Stonewall Riots to hate crime and same sex marriage legislation.” Sheridan also noted that she and Zilka want their students to leave their class with a cultural awareness about issues that relate to the American experience, “What better way to bring that awareness to our students than to hear a firsthand account that led to a landmark civil rights case?” Sheridan said “Overall, our students enjoyed the presentation. It should be a presentation that all educators are required to see.”

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