This Issue

Winter 2011 - Feature

Addressing the Issue of Bullying

During an Upper School chapel service in the midst of Homecoming Week, Chaplain Diane Martinson-Koyama took the opportunity to address a serious issue: bullying. She began by describing how Homecoming means the school community unites with a sense of returning home and how a home should mean everyone feels he or she belongs. She also talked about speaking and acting respectfully and responsibly towards others so that no one feels hurt or looked down upon. Below is an excerpt from her sermon.

The Bible says that from our mouths come both blessings and curses, yet it should not be so because cursing will poison the blessing. Once salt is added to water, it cannot yield fresh (James 3:10-12).

Leatherman-and-martinson-koyama

‘Iolani chaplains Reverend Daniel Leatherman and Reverend Diane Martinson-Koyama
So we must work at it in steps.

Sadly, there are some people who intend and want to hurt others. That is always wrong, and all of us must speak up against bullies for they will not stop if they think they have power over others. But, for the vast majority of us, intentional harm is not the goal; nonetheless, we still say things that can hurt. One of those expressions is, “That is so gay,” or a variation, “You are so gay.”

There was a time when “gay” meant happy, but not now. What is meant now is a putdown at the expense of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

I challenge you to make a pact today to stop using these expressions just as we have given up other words and phrases over the years that were offensive. You know the words—insulting terms for people of other ethnicities or backgrounds. We don’t use those words because they are hurtful, disrespectful. They aim to make someone feel less than the speaker. Using the word “gay” in an expression like, “That is so gay,” or “You are so gay,” has become hurtful in today’s language.  Don’t use it. Drop it from your vocabulary, and if you hear someone else say it, speak up and say, “NOT cool.”

For those of you who may think this is silly, let me assure you, it is not.  On September 22, our nation was shocked when Rutgers University freshman and talented musician Tyler Clemente took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after being “outed” through the Internet. Tragically, there have been other students, victimized by bullying, who have ended their lives…..

Regardless of where you personally stand on the issue of gay rights, no one should ever be made to feel that his or her life is not worth living.  God affirms your life no matter what your sexual orientation or any other characteristic that makes you feel different.

The teen years are not easy. Adolescence is a time of trying to figure out who we are and what’s important to us in life. It’s about discovering our own identities, separate and distinct from our parents.

For some of you, it’s about being you, standing apart, being a unique individual and not just one of the crowd. For others of you, it’s just the opposite. It’s about being part of the crowd, fitting in, and having an identity with a group that claims you.
The teen years are not easy. Adolescence is a time of trying to figure out who we are and what’s important to us in life. It’s about discovering our own identities, separate and distinct from our parents.

But, whether we hope to stand out or whether we want to blend in, we all aim to be accepted.

I would like ‘Iolani to be a community where everyone feels accepted, where everyone wants to continue to return well past graduation because the memories are happy and it truly is a “Homecoming” as a home should be. 

Learning to control our tongues and not letting hurtful words slip from our mouths is the beginning to creating a happy home. May the challenge begin. 

Amen.