It’s not getting better

Facing competition from a 20-year incumbent, Republican candidate for state Senate Ron Brown knew he had to get his name out in the community. The recently retired Eau Claire fire chief already had some recognition in the area, so he used that to his advantage.

Story by Emily Gresbrink

Last week, a town in Ohio lost lives due to a school shooting. National media attention turned to the school and the student responsible for the death of his classmates — reports came out saying he was a reported victim of bullying, according to a Feb. 29 Huffington Post article.

Not long before that, the state health department declared an area in Minnesota a “suicide contagion area” after nine suicides of Anoka-Hennepin district students, four of whom were reportedly gay or lesbian and were bullied.

On Feb. 2, the Rolling Stone reported that there was another commonality: “The tragedies come at a national moment when bullying is on everyone’s lips, and a devastating number of gay teens across the country are in the news for killing themselves.”

And now, just over the weekend, Rick Santorum said he not only wants to ban gay marriage — but null all existing ones. All of those 125,000-plus couples, split up because of who they love.

How can we say it is getting better — or it’s ever going to get better — when these ignorant and hateful things keep happening?  Don’t you think by now there would be some sort of
general improvement?

This is a problem that puts nearly every one of us at fault, regardless of our sexuality. It begins with us. By not saying anything — by not supporting the cause — it won’t get better. Saying “it gets better” fixes nothing. Doing things will only make it better.

If you don’t agree with same-sex marriage or homosexuality, that’s fine as well — just keep it respectful towards those who do agree with it or are in same-sex   relationships.

Do not say hateful names, do not openly judge them or reprimand their choice to be open.

It starts with us. The change to make things better will not happen if you sit and wait for it. Major campaigns and representatives of these movements thrive because of the fuel from below.

Sure, there are things out there that are getting better: As of now, more and more states are allowing same-sex unions and marriages. That’s a plus!

More and more people are becoming aware and taking a stand against bullying homosexual youth (Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way Foundation,” and FCKH8, to name two) in schools.

The Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota passed a new anti-harassment and bullying policy passed by voice vote in the school district in mid-February. That’s also a step.

However, it’s cruel that it had to come after the death of nearly 10 students. It’s cruel it had to wait until lives were lost and the district came under national shame to change.

It’s cruel to know that citizens of our country have to deal with the death of fellow children, adolescents and adults who are gay or lesbian. And only for that reason — only because of their sexual orientation.

Why didn’t those students — why didn’t one student or one person — stand up and say that’s wrong in those cases?

How is it getting better when people are dying and being perpetually bullied? It’s an age-old problem that’s getting worse as time passes.

As an ally, I am sick and tired of seeing these stories on the news of students younger than me dying. I’m sick of seeing children getting away with bullying and not learning the harm of words.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to say, “It got better,” or, “It is getting better.” For now though, it gets better only when you decide to make the change.