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Monday, December 8, 2014

12... and bullied to suicide - for being a male cheerleader

Yesterday morning my family and I were on our up at 4, out at 5 am trek to our daughter's first cheer competition of the season.

Per usual, my husband was driving.  He likes to drive and that's fine by me because I'm content to hang out and talk to the girls.
...or not since it was 5 am.  I was not nearly as caffeinated as I prefer to be at 5 am, so I spent the time in quiet browsing my Facebook and daily news feeds.

I came across an article that saddened me on several levels:


(you can click on the headline to read article)

What??  12??  Another 12-year-old??  Because of being bullied??  For being a cheerleader??  My mind first turned to my beautiful 12-year-old daughter (cheerleader) in the back seat.  Then I recalled the bullying case in Florida about a year ago where a young girl threw herself off a water tower for being bullied.  My mind began to swirl.

At twelve, my daughter is just beginning to learn who she is and who she wants to be.  Not quite a little girl, not yet a woman.  She is at the stage of her life where she's discovering herself.  I'll bet this is where this young boy was in his life as well.

I can't even wrap my brain around how sad and tormented this poor child must have been to decide that dying was his only option.

And why the torment??  Just because he was a cheerleader??  Really??

I know there are opinions on male cheerleaders.  Some dads cringe at the thought of their boys becoming cheerleaders, while others are fine with it.  I'm not here to say what's right and what's wrong.

What IS wrong is that young CHILDREN decided that because this 12-YEAR-OLD BOY was a cheerleader that he must, therefore, be gay - and they were so superior to him that they must torment him to the extent that they did.


Sorry - here's where my strong opinions come in...  As far as I'm concerned, people - that level of judgment is LEARNED behavior.  12-year-old children are mostly innocent when it comes to judgment for others being different.  They are still on the cusp of innocence & learning that others differences "make a difference."  This is where parenting comes into play.  This is where parents need teach their children kindness and acceptance of others' differences.

Twelve is a tough year.  It's the stage in a child's life where parents should maybe take tighter rein.  Especially in a world of social media where you may completely miss things.

6th Grader - Ronin Shimizu

It's no secret, I monitor my child's social media.  I monitored my older son's as well and I plan to monitor the short one's activity when her time comes.  I don't completely invade their privacy - but I keep an eye out.  I have the passwords and am very clear that I will go in whenever I want to look around to be sure all is OK.  I feel that it's my job.  I've learned from checking around that they are at the stage that the judgment and hate are beginning to surface.  Not completely - but it's starting.  For example, one of my child's friends sent her a text one day asking how she should color her poster to distinguish people of other races - black crayon for people of color and orange for Hispanics, yellow for Asians.  I found that unacceptable and addressed it with my daughter in a way she would understand.  My husband is Hispanic.  I asked my daughter flat out... "Is daddy orange?  Is your grandmother?  How about your aunts & uncles??  I am Dutch/German blonde hair, green eyes.  Why didn't I get a crayon color??"  She was upset, because again, she's still innocent - she didn't understand that what her friend was saying was wrong..  (I'm also being kind with regard to the context of the text.)  I felt it was my place to discuss this with her and tell her why it was wrong and how we shouldn't label anyone because of the way they look.  She got the message.  Acceptance.

This is exactly how I feel about the incident with this poor child.  No one had the right to color that young boy with a "pink crayon."  (not judgement, trying to make a point.)

Being a cheerleader certainly isn't a red flag to say "I'm Gay, I'm Gay."
Maybe he was gay OR maybe he liked one of the girls and wanted to be around them more.  OR maybe THIS was just his sport.  THIS was the thing he was good at.  THIS is the place he shined.
This young boy being a cheerleader doesn't make him any more gay than being a big burly auto mechanic (whatever) makes another straight.  What you do / how you look doesn't define you.
How you treat others is what defines you.

LEAD WITH KINDNESS AND ACCEPTANCE.  PERIOD!

This little boy didn't have to die and I'm so incredibly sad for his family that he died in this way.

Keep in mind that until you are sparkly clean, have no sin and lead the absolute perfect life - you don't get to judge.

When you point a finger, you can expect to have 3 pointing back at you.

This should not have been.


My deepest heartfelt condolences to the family of Ronin Shimizu.

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Jenn
 

If you have or know a teen who is struggling with suicidal thoughts - please reach out.



3 comments:

  1. Things are changing for the better, but the culture has a ways to go. When I was 12 (21) for that matter I was not aware that homosexuality even existed and I was not alone in this. Perhaps those were better times for that reason. Now that homosexuality itself is out of the closet acceptance will follow but it will take time. (And by homosexuality, I mean any difference that we may not fully understand.

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  2. I read that this weekend and was just speechless and heartbroken that he felt that was his only option.

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