By: Bernarda Cervantes
“The mission of Cartersville High School is to prepare students to become informed, contributing members of society through vigorous instruction in a caring, compassionate culture.” It’s noble, and it’s what all schools should aspire to do. But what happens when that culture isn’t caring or compassionate to all students?
It’s universally agreed upon that bullying is wrong. Schools treat bullying as a serious offense, and all 50 states have laws against bullying. In Florida, following the highly publicized case of Rebecca Sedwick, a 12 year old driven to suicide by bullying, a statute named after the teen, Rebecca’s Law, has made cyberbullying punishable by a year in jail in the case of a second conviction. Bullying has been recognized and treated with the severity it requires, in Georgia, once a student commits a third bullying offense they are moved to an alternative school, if they are between grades 6-12. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a written testimony submitted for public briefing on “Peer-to-Peer Violence and Bullying” for the U.S Commission on Civil Rights there is particular concern, “…about the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – or LGBT – students. It is one of the few remaining forms of bigotry that can go unchecked on campuses.”
Unfortunately, cases of anti-LGBT bullying have occurred within Cartersville High School. A gay student was at one point locked in the closet of a classroom for his sexual orientation. Oftentimes students have used anti-LGBT slurs while talking to classmates in a joking fashion, which only reaffirms that Cartersville High School has a serious problem-the school environment is not compassionate or caring at all times, or for all students, as the school’s mission statement describes.
But what can we do? It’s time to take action as a community to stomp out bullying based on sexuality or gender. This isn’t a problem the administrators can make go away alone. Everyone at school is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and respectful environment for all of our students. Being more careful in what we say and how we treat each other is one step. Another, and one that is overlooked, is being more aware of LGBT issues. Further education on the subject would go far, since the best way to combat ignorance and bigotry is education and communication. Cartersville High School is a tight knit school with a total enrollment of 1,115; Cartersville is a tight knit community with a population of 19,731; this community can go farther to make it a more inclusive environment for everyone.