Stop the Bully, Teach Love

“Another Teen Suicide due to bullying” seems to be the most active headline of any form of press these days.  It’s astounding to read or to hear about what is going on in today’s society.  I am disgusted that young teens would take the time to ridicule, abuse, and taunt other teens that are different.

Why is this happening?

I am not just blogging about this because I am a lesbian parent, I am writing about this because even before I knew whom I would fall in love with, I too was picked on in school because I didn’t look the way everyone else did. Both girls and boys would pick on me for the way I dressed and the style of haircut I had.  I would often sit alone and watch the other kids play on the playground because I didn’t want to be called names.  I would walk home alone and keep to myself.

As this blog reveals, I have been through some very dark times in my life.  I too have had battles with suicide.  I have had my stomach pumped, I have been at the tip of a cliff wanting to jump, I have had a gun to my head, and I have seen a massive amount of blood pour from my veins. I didn’t know who to turn to or who really cared.  I was scared, alone, and didn’t feel loved.  I was lost and felt as though I had nowhere to turn.

When you least expect it, people enter your life for a reason.  There is a plan, whether it’s believed to be planned out by a higher power or just a universal plan. We are all loved, cared for, and appreciated. I had a dear friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma save my life.  Her name is Lisa.  She is an astounding woman who will always have a place in my heart because she was there when my life depended on it.  She loved me, she helped me, and she supported me.  We truly will be friends forever.

I also had a teacher in high school named Mrs. Allen who at the time taught me that I deserve love and am also capable of love. We would meet each morning in her classroom before school just to talk.  I needed her more than she knew. She was my encouragement, my hope, and she would tell me she loved me.  We were so close that she even came with me to the mother daughter tea that same year.  When I graduated, I spent countless hours making a book of memories for Mrs. Allen that depicted all the time I’d spent with her and her family. She was a profound teacher and friend who provided a foundation that I still nurture in my life today.

The reality of this relationship today: she wants nothing to do with me since she found out I was a lesbian about 5 years ago.  This is a prime example of what is wrong with our society.  It’s ok to love people for whom you think they will become, but when they find true happiness, you choose to stop loving them.  Really?  Sadly, this happens daily.

I won’t address people of faith specifically, but what I will say is that LOVE is LOVE.  You can choose to LOVE or you can choose to be prejudiced with your LOVE, which is why there are people today who are suffering alone.  We can’t choose to be part of a faith where love is perceived to be only fit for certain types of people.  We need to teach love to be what it was always meant to be and that is LOVE FOR ALL PEOPLE.

It all starts with US, parents, role models, caregivers, teachers, anyone who is in the world and comes across children and young people.  They say “leadership starts at the top” – this I believe.  The way we carry ourselves, the way we conduct ourselves during conflict, and those who surround us witness the way we love.  Take a moment to think about how you reveal yourself in the world.  Is it what you would want your child to reveal?

I honestly don’t remember anyone ever talking to me about compassion, love, or the differences in the world.  In today’s society that is filled with so many differences: cultures, sexual orientation, disabilities, race, personalities, religious views, political dominance, etc.  I agree with Ellen DeGeneres: a class should be required in school to educate kids about tolerance: Differences and Compassion, They belong Together!

Make it Count by being a good role model and teaching love.

Ashley Stevenson