susanstinson: (Default)
[personal profile] susanstinson
I just saw the terrible news that, in the nearby city of Springfield, 11-year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover has hanged himself after enduring anti-gay bullying. Evidently, his mother's attempts to talk with school officials about the bullying did not result in an effective response. Oh, I feel for that child and his family.

It makes my heart ache, it really does, for all of the children who are harassed at school, who have to fight so hard to find the inner resources to get through the attacks, often in isolation. It happens so much around perceived gayness or queerness. It happens around so many things. It happens around fatness.

I experienced harassment around being fat as a little girl and a high school student, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Other kids didn't perceive me as queer, but there was no missing the fact that I was fat. I've heard stories of children who have killed themselves in response to fat-related bullying, and a quick google turned up more. I'm not going to link to them -- reinvoking all of that waste and loss and sadness seems as if it might not be helpful.

But, I also heard this week that Massachusetts schools are starting to send reports on students' BMI home to their parents. And, very sadly, I think that this kind of institutional focus on weight and the bullying of fat children is related.

Here is an excellent article linking school programs that focus on fat kids with bullying by Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, who wrote The Tyranny of Health.

Here is the main page of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network, which looks to be doing amazing work against bullying in schools.

Here are strategies around children and weight from Body Positive.
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susanstinson

May 2009

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